Participatory Approaches to Integrated Soil-fertility Management
The case studies presented in the previous chapters have shown how soilfertility management by small-scale African farmers is complex, involving multiple sources, processes and flows of fertility. There is great variability in how farming is organized and managed, determined by a wide range of socioeconomic conditions and differences in access to resources. In addition, there exists considerable variation in the agro-ecological conditions under which farmers operate. What is practical and profitable for farmers depends on the prevailing production circumstances. Under these conditions, it is difficult for research and extension to arrive at tailor-made recommendations. Management of soil-fertility in such settings clearly requires approaches that are responsive to diversity in agro-ecological conditions and socio-economic circumstances. Conventional approaches to soil-fertility management often start and finish with technological questions and answers, neglecting the broader systems implications and socio-economic and institutional conditions determining farmers’ abilities to manage their soils.