Conservation Agriculture in Africa: Analysing and Foreseeing its impact – Comprehending its Adoption (CA2AFRICA).

Published on 26 June 2011

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Start Date: 1 January 2010 | End Date: 30 June 2012


Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly seen as a promising alternative for coping with the need to increase food production on the basis of more sustainable farming practices. CA specifically aims to address the problems of soil degradation resulting from agricultural practices that deplete the organic matter and nutrient content of the soil. It aims at higher crop yields and lower production costs. Inspired by the efficacy of combating erosion and reversing crop yield decline in the United States of America and Brazil in the 1970s, a growing number of research and extension programs in Africa, supported by major international initiatives (e.g. FAO, GTZ, the DMC- direct sowing mulch-based systems initiative under GFAR, ECAF, CIMMYT, AFD) have increasingly promoted the principles of CA. Yet, success with adopting CA on farms in Africa has been limited.

This project seeks to better understand the reasons for the limited adoption of CA in Africa. A better understanding of the extent and in which techno-institutional conditions CA strengthens the socio-economic position of landholders, is a pre-requisite to know where and how to promote large-scale CA adoption. The goal is, therefore, to examine the agro-ecological, socioeconomic and institutional conditions that determine success or failure of CA. This knowledge will contribute significantly to successful (re)design of CA practices to better adapt them to African farming systems and their context. The project brings together the major research players involved with CA in Africa to share, assess and learn together with practitioners from past and ongoing experiences on CA in five regions across the continent. With the five regions the project covers the major agro-ecological zones and farming systems of Africa. It will draw on a number of selected case studies from these regions to identify lessons and priorities for future research, practice and policy on CA in Africa. The integrated assessment of these case studies will be done mostly through the use of carefully selected bio-physical, socio-economic and innovation systems models.

A main outcome of the project will be a better understanding by stakeholders involved in CA research and development across Africa of the impact and adoption of CA. With such understanding, formal research and development actors in Africa and their international partners will be in a better position to target CA technologies to the diverse African farming systems. This is one of the necessary conditions to have a profound impact on rural livelihoods.

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