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Examining the synergistic effect of cocoa-plantain intercropping system on gross margin: A system dynamics modelling approach
Agricultural Systems  (IF5.37),  Pub Date : 2021-10-19, DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2021.103301
Joshua Aboah, Edinam Dope Setsoafia

CONTEXT

Cocoa-plantain intercropping is espoused in Ghana as a countervailing strategy for cocoa price fluctuation and household food insecurity. However, the call for a production shift from high-value crops to food staples within an intercropping system is based on limited empirical evidence. Moreover, although intercropping connotes efficient farmland use, there is an inconclusive argument about the effect of farm size used within an intercropping system on the farm income.

OBJECTIVE

This paper seeks to examine the synergistic effect of a cocoa-plantain intercropping system on farmers' gross margin in Ghana.

METHODS

System Dynamics modelling was used to: (i) unveil the inherent drivers of farmers' behaviour in a cocoa-plantain intercropping system; and (ii) quantitatively estimate the synergistic effect on farmers' gross margin.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS

Results showed that farmers that increase the farm size allocation for the intercrop in a cocoa-plantain intercropping system accrue a mean gross margin of 81.7%. The adoption of good agricultural practice contributes a 2% increase to the gross margin. A 5% increase in farm size allocation for intercropping results in 1% increase in the synergistic effect on gross margin. Also, the results revealed that farmers that engage in variable-input substitution and specification accrue the same gross margin of 79.2%. However, farmers that practice variable-input substitution are likely to be more food-sufficient due to the household consumption of the intercrop. Also, the results showed that the synergistic effect for intercropping is highest when farmers opt for complementary intercrops that have a lower production cost than the high-value crop. Consequently, farmers may divert production inputs from the cultivation of high-value crops to food staple to increase the synergistic effect of intercropping.

SIGNIFICANCE

The findings of this paper serve as a sounding board for the promotion of intercropping involving high-value export crops and food staple crops in developing economies, where specialisation in export crop cultivation is favoured. Also, the findings offer farmers the different options of intercropping strategies that can be adopted to increase their on-farm income.