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Les savanes d'Afrique centrale entre enclavement et intégration aux marchés / Central African savannas: between isolation and market integration

G. Magrin, J.-Y. Jamin, G. Faure and G. Duteurtre
Annales de Géographie
112e Année, No. 633 (septembre-octobre 2003), pp. 471-494
Published by: Armand Colin
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23456322
Page Count: 24
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Les savanes d'Afrique centrale entre enclavement et intégration aux marchés / Central African savannas: between isolation and market integration
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Abstract

Les savanes d'Afrique centrale qui s'étendent à travers le Nord du Cameroun, le Sud du Tchad et la République centrafricaine présentent une certaine homogénéité. Milieux de transition entre Sahel et Afrique forestière, ce sont des espaces enclavés, encore peu urbanisés, au peuplement contrasté, où la culture cotonnière marque fortement les systèmes agraires. Des changements rapides sont néanmoins en cours. La croissance démographique encourage l'intensification des cultures et alimente des fronts pionniers agricoles. Les crises cotonnières et l'urbanisation stimulent l'essor du vivrier marchand et l'intégration de l'élevage aux marchés. Les perspectives alimentent cependant bien des incertitudes. La chute des cours mondiaux et les difficiles privatisations rendent incertain l'avenir du secteur cotonnier. L'émergence des ONG et des organisations de producteurs, le désengagement de l'État, les décentralisations, sont des sources d'espoir autant que d'interrogation. La prochaine exploitation du pétrole tchadien et les grands travaux routiers devraient amplifier les mutations spatiales en cours. En stimulant l'urbanisation, elles augmenteront la demande en produits agricoles et pastoraux, encourageant la diversification et l'intégration aux marchés des systèmes économiques ruraux là où les conditions naturelles, l'accessibilité et les dynamiques sociales sont les plus favorables. L'association d'une approche écorégionale avec la prise en compte des diversités locales permet ainsi de comprendre les dynamiques spatiales contemporaines en Afrique. This study illustrates how an eco-regional approach that takes into account the local diversity contributes to a better understanding of the contemporary spatial dynamics in Africa. It was applied to the study of the Central Africa savannas, which spread across Northern Cameroon, Southern Chad and the Central African Republic, are fairly homogenous geographically. Located between the Sahel and the African forest regions, savannas are transitional environments, enclosed spaces, which are still very rural and have a relatively dense but diverse population. The development of the cotton production since the colonial times has heavily marked the agricultural systems. These areas are now being affected by rapid changes. Demographic growth is encouraging the intensification of crop production, and the combination of crop and livestock production. At the same time, people are moving from densely populated areas to set up agricultural pioneer fronts in sparsely populated areas. The "cotton crises" and regional urbanization are stimulating agricultural diversification, which is best seen by the growth in commercial food crops and the introduction of livestock production into the markets. However, the future outlook for evolution is unsettled. The cotton sector has an uncertain future given the world market crash, and the pressure to privatize from Bretton Woods. The management reorganization, which has seen non-State structures (NGOs, farmer organizations) taking the initiative to the detriment of the State, and the increasing decentralization policies are as much a source of hope as a cause for concern. The next extraction of Chadian oil from Doba is likely to amplify the spatial changes that have begun. The same applies to the road construction underway. By stimulating urbanization, these projects will increase demand for crop and animal products and encourage agricultural and pastoral systems to diversify and become better integrated into the market. Thus, they are likely to lead to a situation where land is increasingly graded, something that will benefit those whose geographic potential (natural conditions, accessibility) and social dynamics will adapt most to the changes in progress.

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