Tailoring Conservation Agriculture to small farmers


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Tailoring Conservation Agriculture to small farmers

  1. 1. Tailoring Conservation Agriculture tothe Needs of Smallholder Farmers in Developing Countries: An Analysis of Issues. Patrick C. Wall CIMMYT MR International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center
  2. 2. What is Conservation Agriculture?Comprises two basic components  Surface crop residue retention  Minimal soil movement
  3. 3. What is Conservation Agriculture?Plus other components essential toovercome problems that emergeonce crop residues are retained:• Crop rotation• (Green manure cover crops)
  4. 4. Benefits of Conservation Agriculture Increased water infiltration Reduced moisture evaporation Less water run-off and soil erosion Reduction in labor and energy use Less turn-around time between crops Reduction in production costs * Increases in soil organic matter * Increases in nutrient availability * Greater biological pest control * * Slower, cumulative benefits
  5. 5. Problems with Conservation Agriculture Mind-set. The paradigm of the plow! Weeds Nitrogen mineralization and fertilization Not adapted to soils with poor drainage Very dry areas?
  6. 6. Adoption of Conservation Agriculture Worldwide – estimated 95 million hectares (Derpsch, 2005) Mostly on large, mechanised farms Over 90% in the Americas and Australia
  7. 7. Adoption of Conservation Agriculture on Small Farms Brazil – approx 100,000 ha Ghana – 200,000 small farmers China? 2500 Est. 2000 Indo-Gangetic Plains. Hectares x 1000 1500 2 million ha of wheat 1000 in the rice-wheat 500 system. 0 98/99 99/00 00/01 01/02 02/03 03/04 04/05
  8. 8. Some Characteristics of Small Farmers Little access to financial capital Prioritize production of family food needs, with sale of produce in excess of these requirements. Risk averse Manage mixed crop/livestock systems Limited land resources (although this is often not their primary limiting factor) Rely on manual labor, animal traction and/or small tractors for draught power, although they may contract service providers (with larger equipment) for some activities
  9. 9. Some Characteristics of Small Farmers (contd.) Rely to a large degree on family members for hand labor. Have close community  Have less formal education linkages with weaker links than large-scale commercial outside the community. farmers  Often are situated in marginal areas with respect to rainfall and topography  Often have precarious land tenure
  10. 10. An analysis of the patternsof adoption of zero tillage insix cases:• Brazil• Paraguay• Bolivia• Mexico• Indo-Gangetic plains• Ghana
  11. 11. Factors that Influence the Spread of Conservation Agriculture  Mind-set  Knowledge  Research and extension systems  Access to inputs and equipment  Competition for crop residues  Labor requirements  Crop productivity  Political issues
  12. 12. Mind-set Doing away with the culture of the plough Peer and community pressure
  13. 13. Knowledge - Management of CA Technologies Conservation Agriculture is more knowledge-intensive than input-intensive Success depends more on what the farmer does than on the inputs s/he applies Smallholder farmers have little access to knowledge systems outside the community Often their source of new agricultural information is from sporadic contact with extension agents Extension agents in developing countries are often poorly linked to knowledge and information systems
  14. 14. Knowledge - Remodeling Research and Extension Systems (1)  Research and Extension Systems in the developing countries generally follow a linear model of knowledge development and flowResearchers conducting formal Researchers Farmersresearch in established institutions Extension agents Basic Strategic Applied Technology Adoption research research research transferKnowledge flow
  15. 15. Knowledge - Remodeling Research and Extension Systems (2) Although the principles of CA appear to have very wide applicability, the techniques and technologies to apply the principles are very site specific CA is a complex “technology” that involves changes in many aspects of the production system Research and extension systems cannot develop “packages” for all conditions.
  16. 16. Knowledge - Remodeling Research and Extension Systems (3) Machinery Manu- facturers  For Complex Technologies, Multi- Input Extension Agent InnovationSuppliers (Change) Agents Systems are required. Innovative Farmers  Participation of stakeholders is essential. Equipment Researchers Developers
  17. 17. Limited Access to Inputs CA may require more investment in purchased inputs, especially in the first years Smallholder farmers are willing to purchase and apply inputs if the risks are low - CA generally reduces the risk associated with crop production, especially due to drought Due to low volumes of demand and production, coverage of input and output markets may be poor Programs that help support and develop input and output markets are necessary
  18. 18. Access to Equipment Adequate equipment, especially for direct seeding, is a prerequisite for successful application of CA There is little private investment in the development of equipment for smallholder farmer
  19. 19. Access to Equipment (2) Dissemination of available equipment Participatory evaluation and modification Stimulation (support) of local manufacture
  20. 20. Competition for Crop Residues Competition is mainly for animal feed Animals are generally very important components of the production system Communal grazing rights often apply
  21. 21. Competition for Crop Residues (2)  But surface crop residue retention is essential for the success of CA  How much residue must be kept? 100 80Relative 60Erosion % 40 20 Cover % 20 40 60 80 2Residue 4 t/ha 6 Erenstein, 1997. Based on data of Shaxon et al., 1989, 8 Tripp and Barreto, 1993, and Kok and Thien, 1994.
  22. 22. Competition for Crop Residues (3) R0 Forage A0 C M R 0 Ground CoverBased on Sain, 1997
  23. 23. Competition for Crop Residues (3) R1 R0 Forage A1 A0 C M R R 0 1 Ground CoverBased on Sain, 1997
  24. 24. Competition for Crop Residues (3) R1 R0 Forage A1 A0 C M R R R 0 1 2 Ground CoverBased on Sain, 1997
  25. 25. Competition for Crop Residues (4)Possible solutions  Concentrate inputs (progressively) on part of the farm  Intensify the production system to include better quality forage  Leave part or all of the low quality forage on the land  Community awareness of the problems of land degradation
  26. 26. Competition for Crop Residues (5) Data of K. Sayre from central Mexico Grain Yield (kg/ha)8000600040002000 W-M, ZT, +Res. W-M, ZT, -Res. M-M, ZT, +Res. M-M, ZT, -Res. W-M, CT, +Res. W-M, CT, -Res. 0 1996 1997 1998 2000 2001 2002
  27. 27. Labor use and labor productivity The most important factor that has driven adoption on small farms In many cases crop productivity per unit of labor is more important than per unit of land Especially important where family size or health is declining100 km/ha (Ethiopia, Bolivia) 140,000 hoe strokes/ha/yr (Malawi)
  28. 28. Crop Productivity Under equal conditions CA may not give yield benefits CA allows more timely seeding – often a critical factor in achieving high yields Downside risk is generally lower with CA
  29. 29. Policy Aspects Land tenure Subsidies Land stewardship payments and environmental services
  30. 30. Facilitating the spread of CA in E&S Africa