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Wageningen Universiteit Pays Bas (1999)

Modelling the dynamics of agricultural development : a process approach : the case of Koutiala (Mali)

Struif Bontkes, T.

Titre : Modelling the dynamics of agricultural development : a process approach : the case of Koutiala (Mali)

Auteur : Struif Bontkes, T.

Université de soutenance : Wageningen Universiteit

Grade : PhD thesis 1999

Résumé partiel
Sustainability of agricultural production and food supply is threatened in many developing countries by human population growth. The increasing food requirement forces the population to extend the cultivated areas to less fertile areas, often without taking sufficient measures to maintain soil fertility, causing soil degradation and declining yields. Moreover, the ensuing competition for land and other resources increases differentiation between rich and poor. To change this course of development, appropriate measures have to be taken at the farm and at the policy level, requiring insight in the relevant agro-ecological and socio-economic processes and their interactions.

However, there is no generally applicable definition of sustainability, hence criteria need to be defined in relation to the area studied. In this study, the criteria pertain to agro-ecological aspects such as soil fertility, crop and animal production, and to socio-economic aspects such as income distribution and cereal prices. As the concept of sustainability has a temporal dimension, a time frame needs to be defined. A period of 25 to 30 years is considered suitable, as the chance of uncertain events increases with time. An ecologically uniform region within a country is considered an appropriate level of analysis of sustainability issues, as this allows to take decision making at both regional and farm level into consideration.

To obtain insight in the processes related to agricultural sustainability, it is useful to consider the problem situation as a system and to represent it as a quantitative model. It is thereby important to develop such models interactively with the stakeholders. These models should include agro-ecological as well as behavioural processes at the farm level and allow aggregation of these processes to the regional level.

In the past decennia, different types of agro-ecological models have been developed. Most of these models address only a limited number of aspects, such as crop production or organic matter dynamics and are often limited to one growing season. Moreover, these models are usually very detailed and have high data requirements. For the purpose of this study, insight in the interactions between ecological processes, such as soil fertility and crop growth over a longer period is required. As the availability of data is often limited in developing countries and as it is not necessary to make precise predictions in a regional study with a long time frame, summary models are used to simulate ecological processes. These summary models allow integration of many processes over a longer period and require a limited amount of data.

Mots clés : agricultural development / farm management / land use / dynamics / simulation models / decision making


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