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System dynamics and the defintion of research domains for the northern Guinea Savanna of West Africa
The northern Guinea savanna in Africa (NGS) with a season length of 151–180 days and an altitude below 800 m has long been recognized as highly suitable for crop production and animal husbandry. At present, land use intensity and farming as well as livestock systems vary widely across the zone. Subsistence farming and traditional pastoralism are present as well as intensive, market-oriented production of cash crops and highly integrated crop-livestock systems. This article presents an approach for addressing the challenge of technology development and transfer in the NGS. It is based on an analysis of the evolutionary change of agricultural systems. Exogenous and endogenous determinants have been identified for the formation of, at present, four agricultural systems, five major resource domains and at least ten major farming domains in the NGS. The domains cluster areas of similar resource endowments and development potential which are at a similar point along generalized evolutionary pathways. The additional differentiation of farmer domains integrates changes in equity and externalities into the concept. Resource degradation, biotic constraints and issues of equality are briefly analyzed according to the framework.