ROCH MONGBO1, ANNE FLOQUET2
1University of Abomey Calavi, Department of Economy, Benin
2Cebedes NGO, Benin
Over the past 10 years in southern Benin, pineapple production has been going through a tremendous development following a rapid increase in local and regional demands and a relative success of a few agricultural and trade entrepreneurs in sizing niches on European markets. This is considered as a real blessing for this part of the country where the agrarian development over the century (palm trees economy controlled by the elders, failure of state agricultural services to promote a sustainable farming system and a cash crop as cotton in the central and northern part of the country, important development of land market by the end of the 1980s to the benefit of urban ad middle class population, etc.) has generated soil exhaustion, over fragmentation of family farms, rampant poverty and vulnerability of small farmers and massive migration to Lagos and Cotonou. This paper presents part of the results of empirical investigations conducted in 2004 and 2005 on the circumstances, modalities and consequences of the recent development of a pineapple economy in southern Benin. The research was conducted in 3 villages representative of the agro-ecological variety of the pineapple production area. Qualitative methods were combined with a quantitative survey on a randomly selected sample of farmers. The results presented and analysed in this paper start with a short description of the various strategies and coalitions of actors (farmers and their organisations, merchants, inputs sellers and agricultural extension services) that have ended establishing a commodity chain `filière ananas' in the southern Benin with marginal if any intervention of the state. Then, based on the empirical data, the paper presents and analyses the technological development at farm level, the strategies of farmers to manage farm labour, activity systems and access to inputs and market. The paper pays particular attention to the social stratification induced by these transformations and the challenges therein for researchers and policy makers.
Keywords: Cash crop, commodity chain, endogeneous institutional innovation, pineapple, stakeholder networks