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Contribution to the study of the Zai: the logic of the spreading of the technique in Yatenga (Burkina Faso)

Eric Arzouma BOLOGO student laureate

°1976 Burkina Faso
Masters in sociology, Université de Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, 1998.

Contribution à l'étude du Zai : la logique de la diffusion de la technique dans le Yatenga (Burkina Faso)

The sociology thesis which Eric Bologo dedicates to the Zaï, an agricultural technique of endogenous origin, applied by a part of the peasant population of Yatenga (Burkina Faso), is based on solid agronomic foundations and forces the operators of rural development to question certain issues. The work is built around a well-delimited field of research, and, above all, the author brings together and develops very recent viewpoints from the socio-anthropology of the development.
We are here confronted with a real sociological thesis, the principal merit of which is to offer, via a case study, relevant conclusions, not only for the agronomists, but also for the "developers", the peasants' organizations, the various schools for social sciences which are dealing with development isssues in developing countries . Two essential lessons can be derived from it:
1. A technique the origin of which is endogenous can, ipso facto, not be generalized easily, not even in a homogeneous sociocultural environment.
2. The diffusion of a tried and tested cultivation technique, familiar to the farmers and mastered by them, is more defined by the configuration of social actors and what is put at stake hereby, than by the efficiency of the method itself.
The notion "arena", which the author derives from contemporary sociology, shows in this particular case that it is not so much the cultural heritage, characteristic for a population, that is at stake in the adoption or the diffusion of a practice, as the social relations that have recently been created by the institutionalization of the rural development and its actors.