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Effective research, inclusive of socio-economic challenges, and targeting strategies for enhanced CA adoption

Examples show that introducing conservation agriculture, where there is little awareness of the technology, best begins with a program of research and development over 3-5 years.

The main tasks of such a program are to

(1) verify and adapt the system to local conditions through agronomic research;

(2) develop local capacity to fabricate and maintain effective and affordable conservation agriculture seeders;

(3) facilitate extensive participatory collaboration among researchers, extension personnel, non-governmental organizations, private industry and farmers to raise awareness of the system, share lessons learned, and guide the adoption of conservation agriculture to local conditions.

 

The first step of implementation is to discuss the approach with local stakeholders and demonstrate its application. After one cropping season, researchers and their local counterparts should conduct trials that directly compare the results in fields managed with conservation agriculture with those in fields using existing practices. The lessons learned in these trials are good starting points to see how to adapt conservation agriculture to local conditions, develop locally appropriate recommendations of best practice, and generate local capacity to support the new seeding technology.

 

Despite the wealth of information on zero tillage, there still are significant knowledge gaps. Particularly scarce are reliable and empirically based zero-tillage diffusion indicators and documented evidence of zero tillage’s socio-economic, livelihood, and environmental impacts. Addressing these knowledge gaps would significantly enhance the understanding of the sustainability implications and remaining challenges. A better understanding of livelihood implications and stakeholder dialogue/participation would enhance the ability to keep interventions “pro-poor” and need-based. Addressing the knowledge gaps would also enhance the ability to scale-out and replicate the success in a cost-effective, equitable, and sustainable manner.

 

Research and development still faces the challenge of adapting and developing sound, economic conservation agriculture practices that all types of farmers will adopt year round across crops and across regions.

 

Conservation agriculture is commonly regarded as appropriate for a wide range of smallholder conditions, but often this assumption goes without rigorous evaluation or detailed testing.

 

Research to adapt CA to local circumstances, f.i. CAWT  (Conservation Agriculture with Trees). Further research on weed management in conservation agriculture is recommended.

 

The concept of “Pfumvudza” utilizes the smallest possible plot that will produce enough food to feed the family for one year. Participants of IACCA suggested the need for research to establish its scientific basis, feasibility for scaling-up and sustainability.

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Effective research
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