Conservation Agriculture Practices and Adoption by Smallholder Farmers in Zimbabwe

This study is based on a panel survey interviewing 416 farmers practising conservation agriculture for at least five cropping seasons. Farmers obtained higher yields on conservation agriculture plots than on nonconservation agriculture ones. The mean maize yield on conservation agriculture was 1546 kg/ha compared to 970 kg/ha for non-conventional draft tillage plots across all 15 districts. However, the contribution of conservation agriculture to total household food security requirements was limited due to small plot sizes. Labor and land still remains a major challenge that limits the expansion of conservation agriculture area. Winter weeding remains a challenge, with 63% of farmers practicing it. Application of residues is still limited (56% of farmers practising it). Fertilizer application is largely dependent on access to free fertilizer. The survey results show that the 78 % of the respondent farmers were initially selected by the NGOs and were provided with inputs such as seed and fertilizer. The other 22% of the farmers in the sample were selected as spontaneous adopters, who did not initially receive any NGO support to implement conservation agriculture practices. Eleven percent of the interviewed farmers had stopped conservation agriculture practices by the 2008/09 cropping season due to withdrawal of input support by NGOs. Research should continue to explore different recommendations for different areas as farmers face dynamic agro-ecological and soil environments. Conservation agriculture should not be introduced as a blanket technology for all areas, but should be flexible and adaptable to local conditions.

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 Record created 2017-04-01, last modified 2017-04-26

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