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Conservation Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa-Leveraging Institutional Innovations and Policies for Sustainable Intensification and Food Security (CASFESA) Project: Progress Report 1st August 2013 - 31st January 2014

Year: 2014
Abstract: Conservation Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa-Leveraging Institutional Innovations and Policies for Sustainable Intensification and Food Security (CASFESA) project is funded by EC-IFAD and implemented by CIMMYT in Ethiopia and Kenya (Eastern Africa), and Malawi (Southern Africa) in collaboration with national partners (Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, EIAR, Kenyan Agricultural Research Institute, KARI, and Department of Agricultural Research and Technical Services, DARTS in Malawi). The overall goal of the project is increasing food security and incomes of resource poor smallholder farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa through pro-poor technological and institiutional innovations that improve productivity and enhance the resilience and sustainability of farming system. To systematically assess the role of institutional innovations and technological interventions in enhancing crop productivity and income of resource poor smallholder farmers, we followed a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) where Conservation Agriculture (CA) technologies are demonstrated in randomly selected treatment villages. Farmers in the treatment villages are invited to visit the demonstration plots in their villages and participate in the CA-based technology evaluations compared to their traditional (conventional) practices. With the aim of better adoption of CA-based practices in the treatment villages, in addition to CA-based technology demonstrations, the project facilitates/strengthens institutional and market arrangements that could enhance resource-poor smallholder farmers’ access to CA related inputs like herbicides and farm equipments. In the final CA adoption assessment, farmers in the treatment villages are compared with farmers from counterfactual control villages. Control villages are randomly selected along with the treatment villages when the project implementation starts and left aside with no intervention. This report covers activities conducted during the period of 1st August 2013 to 31st January 2014. During this period project activities were conducted in the two countries (Ethiopia, Kenya), second cropping season in both countries. From the biophysical point of view, there is soil and moisture conservation mechanism added to minimum soil disturbance in Embu Kenya. Furrows and ridges were made during the first season where maize and beans were planted on. Furrows are used to conserve moisture when there is less amount of rain by tieing them at a given interval and drain excess water from the plots when floded due to excessive rain. Though the principle of CA doesn’t allow mechanical soil disturbance, following the principle of minimum soil disturbance, furrows and ridges could be made once in 4 or 5 years and then then maintained with mimimum disturbance to the soil each cropping season. The other innovation was seen in Embu where maize residue is highly demanded for livestock feed. Farmers who were interested to retain residue on their farm, spray herbicied on the residues and put a red ribbon in the field as a sign of warning that the residue is treated with harmful chemicals and not good to use as feed. Application of different combinations herbicied use for grass and broad-leafed weeds were also observed at Embu/Kenya. During this reporting period, two draft scientific papers were completed. Both papers has been accepted for oral presentation at the 6th International Conference on Conservation Agriculture at Winnipeg, Canada the coming June 2014. The first draft paper focused on targeting potential recommendation domains of CA in Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi considering both bio-physical and Socio-economic variables affecting the applicability and feasibility of conservation agriculture. The second paper analyzed resource (labor and draft power) saving and productivity enhancing impacts of zero-tillage in Ethiopia. Though the project is not directly focusing on nutrition, it encourages legume intercropping with maize which could enhance households’ protein intake. Particularly, for CA demonstration hosting farmers, the quantity of beans harvested from the intercropped demo-plots has been small for marketing. Thus, farmers were using the beans harvest for home consumption. Interestingly, both in the main and minor seasons in Kenya, the number female participants in farmers field day is larger than the number of male participants. Maize is a food security crop in Kenya and female farmers are more interested to technologies related to food security crops like maize and beans. Partnership with the existing stakeholders were strengthened by conducting field days together where they were promoting their products (seeds, chemicals, insurance) and the agricultural offices to incorporate sustainable intensification practices in their extension system through time. Overall the project achievement during this reporting period was good. Data analysis from the two seasons will be finalized during the upcoming reporting period. Since the project is ending by December 2014, results from these analyses will be used as inputs to the project ending workshops communicating lessons learned and challenges faced in promoting CA technologies in the study areas.
Format: PDF
Language: English
Publisher: CIMMYT
Copyright: CIMMYT manages Intellectual Assets as International Public Goods. The user is free to download, print, store and share this work. In case you want to translate or create any other derivative work and share or distribute such translation/derivative work, please contact indicating the work you want to use and the kind of use you intend; CIMMYT will contact you with the suitable license for that purpose.
Type: Report
Region: East Africa
Region: Southern Africa
Place of Publication: Mexico
Pages: 13 pages

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