Initiating Sustainable Agricultural Systems Through Conservation Agriculture in Mozambique: Preliminary Experiences from SIMLESA Dias, D.J 1 , Nyagumbo, I 2* and Nhantumbo, N.S 3 , Tomo, A 4 Instituto de Investiga ç ão Agr á ria de Mo ç ambique (IIAM) [email_address] CIMMYT, International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Box MP163, Mt. Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe, [email_address] ; Instituto Superior Polit é cnico de Manica, Faculdade de Agricultura, [email_address]
CIMMYT, IIAM and other partners since August 2010, have been implementing SIMLESA, a research initiative aimed at promoting a sustainable intensification of maize–legume cropping systems for food security in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Objective of this paper is to highlight experiences gathered during this first season of implementation focussing on the successes, challenges, lessons learnt and insights on the future.
Exploratory CA trials were established in 6 communities distributed within three provinces (Manica, Tete and Sofala) of Mozambique (see map). A criteria for selection was based on attributes such as:
Potential to boost yields using CA,
Potential for maize legume systems
Availability of secondary data including meteorological data.
Testing sites Angonia (R10) (Communities of Ciphole and Cabango) Sussundenga (R4) Community of Sussundeng-sede R10: Community of Rotanda Manica (R10&R4) Community of Chinhadombwe) Gorongoza (R4) Community of Canda-sede )
Perceptions of host farmers regarding what they think were reasons for being selected to host trials Reason for being selected Frequency Percent hard worker 18 51 ability to run trials and experience from other trials 8 23 s/he is trustworthy 2 6 very active/ willing to learn/ good fields 7 20
Previous experience hosting other trials 28.6 % have never participated in any research trials before 71.4 % have hosted other research/ extension trials before
Table 2. Key attributes of trial host farmers Variable Mean Standard deviation Period of residence in the community (yrs) 35.1 17.5 Family size ( no. of persons) 8 3.4 Age of household head (years) 45.5 12.7 No. of years in school (years) 6 3.3 Contribution of labour in own farm 84.3 31.2 Land size (ha) 4.8 3.6
The selection to host trials differed from site to site and depended very much on cultural habits with some gender biases.
In Manica and Tete sites, the process was more supportive of women with one to three women being selected to host trials per site and an average of two women participating in CA committees (Table 3).
Table 3: Gender characteristics of CA trial host farmers and research committees by community Province/District Farmers selected to host trials by community Farmers in Local Research Committees Total Male Female Male Female Sofala: Gorongosa-Canda 6 0 5 0 11 Manica: Chinhadombwe 5 1 3 2 11 Manica: Sussundenga Sede 5 1 3 2 11 Manica: Sussundenga-Rotanda 5 1 2 3 11 Tete: Angonia-Cabango 3 3 3 2 11 Tete:Angonia-Chiphole 5 1 2 3 11
In contrast, in Gorongosa no women featured on any role!
Although meant to ensure ownership and identification with the project the approach in some situations e.g. Gorongosa, led to selection of the same people already hosting trials from other initiatives.
Farmers were motivated by the resources availed to them through the project such as inputs and equipment (Jab planters, direct seeders) which they considered as very useful tools due to their ability to make the sowing easier and less time consuming.
There were complaints over bad functionality, unavailability on the local market and the high cost of the equipment were major constraints to famers interested in adopting the initiatives
The initiative found that success on implementation starkly depended on:
Motivation of the local extension worker as well as the interest of the local farmers.
The quality of CA implemented, highly depended on the extension workers knowledge, motivation, resources put at their disposal and their workload or commitment to other initiatives .
The existence of other projects with different approaches also led to confusion among both the extension staff and farmers.
Quality of CA management Site No. of farmers % applying residues by flowering stage Weed management by mid Season Maize average yield (kg/ha) Quality of Extension support Chiphole 6 100 1 excellent, 2 good; 3 average 3371 Very good Kabango 6 83 1 very good; 3 good; 1 average; 1 poor 4384 Very good Sussundenga 6 83 3 excellent; 2 average, 1 late planted 1997 Very good Rotanda 6 100 2 good, 3 average, 1 late planted 2458 average Gorongosa 6 83 2 good, 2 average, 2 very bad 1075 average Manica 5 20 1 excellent, 4 very bad 2198 Poor
The first six months of implementation revealed complex challenges:
The unavailability of residues
Termite infestation was also a deterrent to residue application for example in Manica.
Weed management also proved a serious challenge with some farmers calling for the use of pre-emergence herbicides in addition to glyphosate while others avoided hand/hoe weeding on plots treated with herbicides.