Mainstreaming CA challenges to adoption, institutions and policy. Amir Kassam


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A presentation made at the WCCA 2011 event in Brisbane, Australia.

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Mainstreaming CA challenges to adoption, institutions and policy. Amir Kassam

  1. 1. 5th World Congress of Conservation Agriculture, 25-29 September, Brisbane Mainstreaming Conservation Agriculture:Challenges to Adoption, Institutions and PolicyAmir Kassam, Theodor Friedrich, Jules Pretty, Francis Shaxson, Herbert Bartz, Ivo Mello University of Reading, UK Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome University of Essex, UK Tropical Agriculture Association, UK Brazilian No-Till Association, Ponta Grossa, Brazil
  2. 2. Outline• Background – mainstreaming• Challenges –adoption –institutions –policy• Opportunities• What is needed• Conclusions
  3. 3. Mainstreaming CAFor CA to be a preferred paradigm of choice byconcerned stakeholders – by farmers of all types(adoption), by service providers (institutions –private, public, community), and by policymakers & politicians (policy ).
  4. 4. Mainstreaming CASo that CA mind set and innovation system takeroots to serve as a sustainable ecologicalfoundation for the multi-functional food andagriculture land use system and into whichother complementary on-farm and landscapelevel production and ecosystem managementpractices can be/are integrated (e.g. GAP,precision & energy efficient farming; controlledtraffic farming, integrated land usemanagement etc)
  5. 5. Mainstreaming CANot an exclusive vision & purpose – as mostexisting production systems, sub-systems andpractices can benefit from integration of CAprinciples e.g. IPM, IPNM/ISFM, irrigated systems,agroforestry, SRI rice, organic farming, rotationalfarming, integrated crop-livestock system.
  6. 6. Mainstreaming CANot saying that CA is the only agro-ecologicalapproach to sustainable productionintensification.Others are free to promote non-CA paradigmsand practices if they think they can harnessecologically sustainable productionintensification and ecosystem servicessimultaneously.
  7. 7. Mainstreaming CASo mainstreaming at two interlinked levels:• At the level of on-farm adoption – where productivity, output and sustainability are of major concern (THIS PRESENTATION)• At the integrated landscape level – where environmental ecosystem services are also of major concern to rural communities and society generally (A different set of additional barriers involved here)
  8. 8. Challenges to Adoption (within a given effectivedemand and market access)
  9. 9. Challenges to Adoption• TA to CA – A fundamental operational change – Issues of knowledge base, personal experience, risks, all would influence the state of the mind & psychology of the would be adopter towards CA• Discussed for 70 years, practiced for 40 years• “Real”: more than 120 Mill ha• Yet: it is relatively unknown and not promoted as a mainstream production system choice• Typical adoption curve, slow start
  10. 10. Challenges to Adoption• Necessary conditions for adoption, to be mobilised at the individual, group, institutional and policy level to create the sufficient conditions for uptake and continuation• But farmers do not start from a clean sheet – more than 90% of them practice tillage-based systems which have ‘worked’ for them so far, and they aspire to intensify within the same paradigm
  11. 11. Challenges to Adoption• And are forced to stay with the old ‘interventionist’ tillage paradigm by the private and public parts of the food and agriculture system – the market capitalism version of harnessing production intensification and its socio-economic assumptions – strong on input and output market liberalization and access and value chains but weak or almost ‘unconcerned’ about on-farm and landscape agro-ecology or ecosystem functions and management
  12. 12. Challenges to AdoptionIntellectual challenges to adoption (1):• CA is counterintuitive• CA against “common knowledge”• Tillage and plough part of culture & existing system• “Experiential knowledge” of CA: – More knowledge – positive view – Little knowledge – negative bias (majority)
  13. 13. Challenges to AdoptionIntellectual challenges to adoption (2):• CA is unknown, no option for farmers• CA pioneers need technical guidance – knowledge intensive, forward-planning• CA no package ready for adoption – local adaptation, farmer R&D• CA publications often poor quality
  14. 14. Challenges to AdoptionSocial challenges to adoption:• Social isolation/peer pressure• Land tenure, communal rights on land/residues• Adoption depends on entire communities – social capital
  15. 15. Challenges to AdoptionBiophysical and technical challenges to adoption:• CA practices not for every situation readily available• Crop rotations/cover crops/livestock integration need local solutions• Unavailability of inputs: cover crop seeds, equipment
  16. 16. Challenges to Institutions
  17. 17. Challenges to InstitutionsFinancial challenges to adoption:profit vs. investment capital• Investment for building up soil health (initial “repairs”)• Investment into new equipment• Unavailability of services – credit, machinery contractors, low cost adaptations
  18. 18. Challenges to InstitutionsInfrastructural challenges to adoption:• Inputs required for sustainable intensive production: available, affordable, accessible• Different inputs for CA (cover crop seeds, herbicides, equipment)• Suppliers need to be proactive
  19. 19. Challenges to PolicyPolicy challenges to adoption:• Policy makers unaware of CA• Policies working against CA (commodity subsidies, tillage laws)• Lack of inter-sectoral coordination (agriculture-mechanization-finance …)• Landownership/-user rights
  20. 20. But there are opportunities to promote CA• Increasing pressures on land use in general and farmers in particular are opportunities for change.• Crisis and emergencies• Increasing environmental concerns• Challenges of climate change
  21. 21. What is needed?• Reliable local individuals and institutional champions• Dynamic institutional capacity to support CA• Engaging with farmers & farmers with farmers (social capital development)(a) The importance of working with farmers towards improvements in current practices.(b) Importance of farmers’ organizationsincluding FFS, Cooperatives, Clubs, Networks
  22. 22. What is needed?Providing knowledge, education and learningservices(a) The need for scientists and extension agentsto recognise and characterise the problemsrelating to soil health in agricultural land andfacilitate problem solving(b) The need to build up a nucleus ofknowledge and learning system in the farming,education, extension and scientist community
  23. 23. What is needed?Mobilizing input supply and outputmarketing sectors for CA(a) Accessibility and affordability ofrequired inputs and equipment(b) Financing and enabling the initialstages
  24. 24. What is needed?Designing and implementing policy andinstitutional support – Putting a political emphasis on policy and institutional support for mainstreaming CA – The need to sensitise policy-makers and institutional leaders – Formulating enabling policies including for rapid up-scaling
  25. 25. Conclusions• CA adoption rarely spontaneous• Hurdles keep farmers from adoption• All hurdles have solutions• Benefits from CA can be harnessed with supportive policies and institutional service providers in response of actual local, national and global problems• This has begun to occur in Africa and Asia in recent years
  26. 26. Let’s share our capacities in the global CA-CoP to advance CA Thank youMore information:Theodor.Friedrich@fao.orgkassamamir@aol.com