Increasing CSA evidence.

We’re working to increase the availability and use of CSA evidence. Vuna have commissioned and are publishing research on key topics that impact on climate change, the agriculture sector and the East and Southern African region.

Assessing the Contributions of Conservation Agriculture to Building Resilience to Drought

Project Ref Number: 6924-EL04

Active period and status:
Project implementation completed – May 2016 to April 2017.

Conservation agriculture has been identified as a climate smart agricultural practice because it improves agricultural productivity, increases resilience of cropping systems to climate change, and mitigates greenhouse gases. This project aims to take advantage of the 2015/16 El Niño drought in southern Africa to test contributions of conservation agriculture to the resilience of farming systems in the context of severe drought. Field investigations compared productivity of farmers adopting key components of conservation agriculture, with the productivity of neighbouring farmers who did not adopted these practices. This study identified the contributions of conservation agriculture (CA) practices to improving crop systems resilience to drought, and recommended strategies for improving the adoption of CA, or related crop-management practices, that measurably improve resilience to drought in eastern and southern Africa farming systems.

Target Problem:
Conservation agriculture has been widely promoted as a set of climate smart practices in East and Southern Africa. However, adoption of these practices has been limited and much more piecemeal than anticipated. Many farmers have tried conservation agriculture techniques and then rejected the package. Some farmers have adopted parts of the standard conservation agriculture package. This research targets an assessment of whether those farmers adopting at least part of the practice achieved better production levels and yields, despite the severe 2015/16 season drought in southern Africa, compared with neighbours in the same agro-ecology who did not adopt.

Summary approach:
This project supported the preparation of an Evidence and Learning Report based on i) the results of a literature review examining expected contributions of CA to climate resilience, and ii) a farm survey examining whether components of CA improved the likelihood of achieving a harvest in the event of the 2015/16 El Niño drought in Zambia and Zimbabwe, and examining why neighbouring farmers make different adoption decisions. The report used this analysis to justify recommendations for further promotion of CA as a strategy for improving climate resilience.

Implementing partners: ICRISAT

Results / findings to date: The development of a Literature Review Paper and an Evidence and Learning Report on Assessing the Contributions of Conservation Agriculture to Building Resilience to Drought in Farmers Fields were completed internally in September 2016 and February 2017 respectively. A 2-page information brief was developed in May 2017. The Evidence and Learning Report and information brief will be broadly distributed and findings will be discussed in national and regional fora.