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Plantain productivity: Insights from Cameroonian cropping systems

Dépigny, Sylvain, Delrieu Wils, Elodie, Tixier, Philippe, Ndoumbé Keng, Michel, Cilas, Christian, Lescot, Thierry, Jagoret, Patrick
Agricultural systems 2019 v.168 pp. 1-10
analysis of variance, crop yield, cropping systems, farmers, food security, herbicides, interviews, nitrogen fertilizers, planting, Cameroon
Understanding the components of plantain productivity is important for contributing to the food security challenge in West and Central Africa. The purpose of this study was to assess how production system and cropping system characteristics affect plantain productivity. Interviews with farmers, dynamic measurements of cropped diversity, recording of management practices and characterization of the harvested bunches were used to characterize 25 plantain fields in the form of 54 factors and 5 dependent variables. The average bunch weight measured was 11.6 kg. The within-field variability of the bunch weights measured was 4.2 kg. The calculated mean plantain yield was 6.8 t/ha/year and varied between 1.1 and 18.8 t/ha/year depending on the fields studied. Harvested bunches amounted to only 34% of the field potential. Segmentation analyses (CART) of the fields studied and analyses of variance identified 12 factors strongly linked to bunch sizes and plantain field lifetime. The highest bunch weights were measured in fields belonging to farmers who participated in training and also applied herbicide and nitrogen fertilizers more frequently and at higher rates. These practices also increased within-field variability for bunch weights. Lastly, the management practices recorded showed an intensification of chemical inputs in traditional plantain-based cropping systems. These results, especially the high within-field and between-field variability for bunch weights, call for better quantify the impact of planting material quality and varietal mixture on plantain productivity into plantain-based cropping systems.