Contours, crops and cattle: Participatory soil conservation in the Andean foothills, Bolivia.
During research-planning workshops, farmers produced farm plans for their own SWC trials, taking into account their responses to introduced technologies such as contour hedgerows and cover crops. Drawing on this work, this article reflects on the principal features of farmers’ own practices, and the potential for assimilating new technologies into the farming system in the temperate valleys. It was concluded that constraints to contour hedgerow adoption include lack of information (and farmer-to-farmer contact), as well as scarcity of planting material. By overcoming these constraints, farmers are interested in adapting hedgerows into their production systems. Although scarce, labour is not a discouraging factor at this stage, although it could account for the very wide spacing of hedgerows preferred by farmers. The major remaining constraints are the importance of livestock, and the extensive livestock management practices. Contour hedgerows may ndeed contribute to maintaining the productivity of cropped land, but by focusing on options for cropland, scientists are only addressing a small component of a much wider productivity and environmental problem which requires more complex social and managerial changes. If attitudes to the value and productivity of livestock change, more intensive management may be possible, at which stage hedgerows or other arrangements for fodder production may be an important integrated factor in farm management.
Lawrence, A. Contours, crops and cattle: Participatory soil conservation in the Andean foothills, Bolivia. Agroforestry Forum (1997) 8 (4) 11-13.