Assessing the impacts of conservation agriculture on farmer livelihoods in three selected communities in central Mozambique

Nkala, Peter (2011) Assessing the impacts of conservation agriculture on farmer livelihoods in three selected communities in central Mozambique. UNSPECIFIED thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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Doctoral Thesis,Agriculture is the major source of livelihood for more than 80% of the people in Mozambique. Many years of cropping using slash-and-burn practices has resulted in negative environmental impacts which result in low crop productivity, food insecurity, hunger and malnutrition. During the last 20 years there have been a number of initiatives by rural development and research organizations working in partnership with the government to introduce environmentally friendly, more efficient and sustainable technologies, so as to restore soil fertility, improve moisture conservation and ensure increased crop productivity. Among these technologies, conservation agriculture has been promoted since 2007 by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture (MINAG) in central Mozambique. Conservation Agriculture builds on three principles: minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation. This study assesses the alleged livelihoods benefits of conservation agriculture for smallholder farmers. These benefits include improving productivity, household income, food security and subsequently alleviating poverty. First, the benefits of conservation agriculture in southern Africa as reported in the literature were reviewed. Then empirical data was collected in the communities of Nhanguo, Pumbuto and Ruaca in central provinces of Manica and Sofala in Mozambique. The data was used to assess the differences between 75 households who had adopted (some) conservation agriculture techniques and 90 households who had not adopted any conservation agriculture techniques. Furthermore, how smallholder farmers are redesigning conservation agriculture was examined. Finally, the energy and labor efficiency of conservation agriculture was assessed. The results show that vulnerable livelihoods, lack of access to agricultural assets, lack of institutions supporting smallholder farmers are among the factors explaining the slow adoption of conservation agriculture in central Mozambique. Under these conditions conservation agriculture has only a weak impact on livelihood outcomes, mostly through a slight improvement in crop productivity. Farmers are actively engaged in redesigning all the three principles of permanent soil cover, minimum tillage and crop rotation, thus indicating that promoting conservation agriculture as a package may not be suitable for all categories of smallholder farmers. Finally, comparing energy use within conservation agriculture and conventional agriculture shows some efficiency gains. The study concludes that conservation agriculture is a complex technology whose short- and long-term benefits are not fully apparent. If smallholder farmers are to adopt the technology, a participatory approach to adapting the technology to their need might be more promising than the current transfer-oftechnology approach.

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation Agriculture,Livelihoods,Smallholder,Mozambique
Divisions: Universities > State Universities > National University of Science and Technology
Depositing User: Mr. Edmore Sibanda
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2015 15:44
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2015 15:44

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