Full Length Research Paper
For some years, the Republic of Benin has promoted mechanization and modernization of its agricultural sector as a driver of food security, socio-economic development and sub-regional solidarity. New agricultural technologies such as tractors and pesticides have been introduced into the small scale farming systems and have reached record adoption rates in various agro-ecological zones of the country. However, rural actors’ use of these technologies also leads to new forms of territoriality which make some winners and others losers. This study was carried out in the cotton basin of northern Benin to scrutinize the forms of appropriation of agricultural technologies and the effects on access to productive resources and interactions between farmers and herders who are cultural neighbors. Participatory observation was carried out over ten months in the district of Gogounou where informants who were purposively selected were engaged in 164 individual interviews and 21 focus group discussions recorded by consent, transcribed and thematically analyzed. By analyzing the mechanisms of appropriation of herbicides in rural areas and the related political ecology of land use, the paper argues that herbicides reconfigure tenure systems by inducing new forms of land-tenure insecurity and land-use conflicts between socio-professional groups that depend on the same natural resources for their livelihoods. Community-based discussions can engage stakeholders in exchanges of sustainable production alternatives, just as institutional reforms are needed to better channel the uses of modern agricultural technologies.
Key words: Benin, herbicide, territorialization, tenure insecurity, land-use conflicts.
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