Main Article Content
Soil fertility decline is a reality across the globe. Soil infertility has led to falling crop yields for both food and cash crops precipitating both poverty and food insecurity. Poor agricultural practices have often been blamed for declining levels of soil fertility. It was within this framework that this study was carried out to assess soil fertility levels in cocoa-based agroforestry systems in the Littoral region of Cameroon. Through the use of a mixed research approach and descriptive and inferential statistical analysis it was found that the most perceived indicators of soil fertility by cocoa farmers in cocoa-based agroforestry systems were cocoa yields (100%), soil colour (90%), indicator plant species (75%), presence of soil macro-organisms (80%), indicator weed species (65%), growth rate/vigour of the cocoa plant (70%), and level of compaction of the soil (50%). Chi-square test statistic (X2 = 15.92, p<0.05) revealed that there was a statistically significant difference in cocoa farmers’ perceptions of soil fertility indicators in cocoa-based agroforestry systems. Most cocoa farmers perceived the level of soil fertility in cocoa-based agroforestry systems to be between average (29%) and low (43%). Very few cocoa farmers perceived that soil fertility level in cocoa-based agroforestry systems was very high (5.3%). Chi-square test statistic (X2 = 38.42, p<0.05), revealed the existence of a statistically significant difference in cocoa farmers’ perception of the level of soil fertility in cocoa-based agroforestry systems. Correlation and regression analyses showed the existence of a direct and inverse non-causal and causal relationship respectively between several explanatory variables and soil fertility in cocoa-based agroforestry systems. It was noticed that explanatory variables such as fertilizer/manure application, diversity of tree species in the cocoa agroforests, diversity of soil macro-fauna in the cocoa agroforests, and density of soil macro-fauna in the cocoa agroforests, all had a statistically significant (p<0.05) direct non-causal and causal relationship with soil fertility in cocoa-based agroforestry systems. Meanwhile, explanatory variables such as age of the cocoa farm, density of cocoa plants in the cocoa agroforests, and application of agrochemicals in the cocoa agroforests, all had a statistically significant (p<0.05) non-causal and causal relationship with soil fertility in cocoa-based agroforestry systems. It is therefore recommended that there should be more organic fertilizer/manure application, more diversity of tree species in the cocoa agroforests, and measures to ensure the diversity and density of soil macro-fauna in cocoa-based agroforestry systems.
Nair PKR. Agroforestry systems and environmental quality: Introduction. Journal of environmental quality. 2011;40(3):784–790.
Jose S. Agroforestry for conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Agroforestry Systems. 2012;85:1–8.
Dollinger J, Jose S. Agroforestry for soil health. Agroforestry Systems. 2018; 92:213–219.
Awazi NP, Tchamba NM. Enhancing agricultural sustainability and productivity under changing climate conditions through improved agroforestry practices in smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. African Journal of Agricultural Research. 2019;14(7):379-388.
Tsufac AR, Yerima BPK, Awazi NP Assessing the role of agroforestry in soil fertility improvement in Mbelenka-Lebialem, Southwest Cameroon. International Journal of Global Sustainability. 2019;3(1):115–135.
Munjeb NL, Yerima BPK, Avana TML Farmer’s perception of soil and watershed degradation and the assessment of soil nutrients status under agroforestry systems in the western highlands of Cameroon: Case of Ako sub division. Journal of Soil Science and Environmental Management. 2018;9(8):119-126.
Awazi NP, Avana TML. Agroforestry as a sustainable means to farmer-grazier conflict mitigation in Cameroon. Agroforestry Systems. 2020;94(6):2147–2165. Available:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-020-00537-y
Nair PKR An introduction to agroforestry, Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer academic publishers; 1993.
Leakey RRB. Definition of agroforestry revisited Definitio of agroforestry revisited Agroforestry. 1996;81:5-7. Available:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269407082
Amare D, Wondie M, Mekuria W, Darr D. Agroforestry of smallholder farmers in Ethiopia: Practices and benefits. Small-scale Forestry. 2018;18(1): 39-56.
Awazi NP, Tchamba NM, Temgoua LF. Enhancement of resilience to climate variability and change through agroforestry practices in smallholder farming systems in Cameroon. Agroforest Syst 2020;94:687-705. Available:https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-019-00435-y
Asaah EK, Tchoundjeu Z, Leakey RRB, Takousting B, Njong J, Edang I. Trees, agroforestry and multifunctional agriculture in Cameroon. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. 2011;9(1):110-119.
Awazi NP, Tchamba NM, Avana TML. Climate change resiliency choices of small-scale farmers in Cameroon: determinants and policy implications. Journal of Environmental Management. 2019;250:109560.
Nfinn T Cocoa production in Cameroon. AFTA 2005 conference proceedings. 2005; 5.
Laird SA, Awung GL, Lysinge RJ. Cocoa farms in the mount Cameroon region: Biological and cultural diversity in local livelihoods. Biodiversity Conservation. 2007;16:2401–2427.
Sonwa DJ, Nkongmeneck AB, Weise SF, Tchatat M, Adesina AA, Janssens MJ Diversity of plants in cocoa agroforests in the humid forest zone of southern Cameroon. Biodivers Conserv. 2007; 16:2385–2400.
Jagoret P, Michel-Dounais I, Malezieux E. Long term dynamics of cocoa agroforests: A case study in central Cameroon. Agroforestry Systems. 2011;81: 267–278.
Jagoret P, Michel-Dounias I, Snoeck D, Ngnogue HT, Malezieux E. Afforestation of savannah with cocoa agroforestry systems: a small-farmer innovation in central Cameroon. Agroforestry Systems. 2012;86:493–504.
Jagoret P, Kwesseu J, Messie C, Michel-Dounias I, Malezieux E. Farmers’ assessment of the use value of agro-biodiversity in multispecies systems. An application to cocoa agroforests in Central Cameroon. Agroforestry Systems. 2014; 88:983–1000.
Tankou CM. The Cameroon cocoa story. The supply change – Make supermarkets fair project sponsored by the European Union; 2015
Alemagi D, Duguma L, Minang PA, Nkeumoe F, Feudjio M, Tchoundjeu Z. Intensification of cocoa agroforestry systems as a REDD+ strategy in Cameroon: Hurdles, motivations and challenges. International Journal of Agricultural Sustainability. 2015;13(3):187–203.
Mukete N, Li Z, Mukete B, Bobyeg P. Cocoa production in Cameroon: A socio-economic and technical efficiency perspective. International Journal of Agricultural Economics. 2018;3(1):1–8.
Jagoret P, Snoeck D, Bouambi E, Ngnogue HT, Nyasse S, Saj S. Rehabilitation practices that shape cocoa agroforestry systems in Central Cameroon: Key management strategies for long term exploitation. Agroforestry Systems. 2018; 92:1185–1199.
Essougong UPK, Slingerland M, Mathe S, Vanhove W, Ngome PIJ, Boudes P et al. Farmers’ perceptions as a driver of agricultural practices: Understanding soil fertility management practices in cocoa agroforestry systems in Cameroon. Human Ecology. 2020;1–12.
Temgoua LF, Momo SMC, Boucheke RK. Floristic diversity of woody species in cocoa-based agroforestry systems in the littoral region of Cameroon: Case of loum sub-division. European Scientific Journal. 2019;15(9):62–83.
Kimengsi JN, Azibo BR. How prepared are Cameroon’s cocoa farmers for climate insurance? Evidence from the south west region of Cameroon. Procedia Environmental Sciences. 2013;29:117-128.
Kimengsi JN, Tosam JN Climate variability and cocoa production in meme division of Cameroon: Agricultural development policy options. Greener Journal of Agricultural Sciences. 2013;3(8):606 – 617.
Tankou CM, de Snoo GR, Persoon G, de longh HH. Evaluation of smallholder farming systems in the Western Highlands of Cameroon. IOSR Journal of Engineering. 2017;7(1):1–11.
Plan Communal de Developpement – PCD Melong Melong Council Development Plan, Working Document. 2012;154.
Awazi NP, Tchamba NM. Determinants of small-scale farmers’ adaptation decision to climate variability and change in the north-west region of Cameroon. African Journal of Agricultural Research. 2018;13(12):534–543.
Dawoe EK, Quashie-Sam J, Isaac ME, Oppong SK Exploring farmers’ local knowledge and perceptions of soil fertility and management in the Ashanti Region of Ghana. Geoderma. 2012;179:96–103.
Rousseau L, Fonte SJ, Tellez O, Van der Hoek R, Lavelle P. Soil macro-fauna as indicators of soil quality and land use impacts in smallholder agro-ecosystems of western Nicaragua. Ecological Indicators. 2013;27:71–82.
Bezabih B, Lemenih M, Regassa A. Farmers’ perception on soil fertility status of small-scale farming systems in southwestern Ethiopia. Journal of Soil Science and Environmental Management. 2016;7(9):143–153.
Omari RA, Bellingrath-Kimura SD, Addo ES, Oikawa Y, Fujii Y. Exploring farmers’ indigenous knowledge of soil quality and fertility management practices in selected farming communities of the guinea savannah agro-ecological zone of Ghana. Sustainability. 2018;10(4):1034.
Oliveira PHG, Gama-Rodrigues AC, Gama-Rodrigues EF, Sales MVS. Litter and soil-related variation in the functional group abundances in cocoa agroforests using structural equation modeling. Ecological Indicators. 2018;84:254–262.
Tongkaemkaew U, Sukkul J, Sumkhan N, Panklang P, Brauman A, Ismail R. Litter, litter decomposition, soil macro-fauna and nutrient contents in rubber monoculture and rubber-based agroforestry plantations. Forest and Society. 2018;2:138–149.
Suarez LR, Audor LCU, Salazar JCS. Formation of macroaggregates and organic carbon in cocoa agroforestry systems. Florestae Ambiente. 2019;26(3).
Marsden C, Martin-Chave A, Cortet J, Hedde M, Capowiez Y. How agroforestry systems influence soil fauna and their functions – A review. Plant and Soil. 2020; 453:29–44.
Sileshi GW, Mafongoya PL, Nath AJ Agroforestry Systems for improving nutrient recycling and soil fertility on degraded lands. Agroforestry for Degraded Landscapes. 2020;225–253.
Dahlsjo CAL, Stiblik P, Jaklova J, Zidek M, Huaycama WJ, Lojka B, Houska J. The local impact of macro-fauna and land use intensity on soil nutrient concentration and exchangeability in lowland tropical Peru. Biotropica. 2020;52(2):242–251.
Moco MKS, da Gama-Rodrigues EF, da Gama-Rodrigues AC, Machado RCR, Baligar VC. Soil and litter fauna of cacao agroforestry systems in Bahia, Brazil. Agroforestry Systems. 2009;76:127–138.
Moco MKS, Gama-Rodrigues EF, Gama-Rodrigues AC, Machado RCR, Baligar VC Relationships between invertebrate communities, litter quality and soil attributes under different cacao agroforestry systems in the south of Bahia, Brazil. Applied Soil Ecology. 2010;46:347–354.
Wartenberg AC, Blaser WJ, Gattinger A, Roshetko JM, Van Noordwijk M, Six J. Soil fertility and Theobroma cacao growth and productivity under commonly intercropped shade-tree species in Sulawesi, Indonesia. Plant and Soil. 2020; 453:87–104.
Wartenberg AC, Blaser WJ, Gattinger A, Roshetko JM, Van Noordwijk M, Six J. Does shade tree diversity increase soil fertility in cocoa plantations? Agriculture, ecosystems and environment. 2017; 248:190–199.