FACULTY OF HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES
A STUDY INTO THE ROLE OF CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE AS A CLIMATE CHANGE MITIGATION STRATEGY, A CASE OF WARD 4 (MARKO) IN MATOBO DISTRICT.
A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR A BACHELOR OF SOCIAL SCIENCE HONOURS DEGREE IN GEOGRAPHY AND POPULATION STUDIES AT LUPANE STATE UNIVERSITY
SUPERVISOR: MR. M. SITHOLE
DeclarationI Mthabisi Moyo L0140963D, do hereby declare that the subsequent work is my own original work culminating from years of hard work in the best of my knowledge. This work has not been extracted from other people’s work without acknowledgement. This research work has not been submitted to any university or college in whole or in part for any award at any institution by me or any other person. The views expressed in this research project are that of the author except where indicated by means of complete reference. Any errors, additions and omissions remain the sole responsibility of the author.
DedicationTo my beloved parents Mr. and Mrs N. Moyo.
AcknowledgementsMy deepest gratitude goes to my supervisor Mr. M. Sithole who gave me ambition, unwavering support and guidance in putting this dissertation together. Indeed, if not for him, through his encouragements and guidance, this dissertation would not have taken this shape.
This dissertation would not have been possible if it was not for Marko ward traditional leadership and local farmer’s assistance in carrying out the research. I would like to extend my thankfulness to Mrs. P. Dube, ward 4 Agricultural Extension Worker under Agritex Department for her support in acquiring all the data I needed for the research.
My appreciation would be incomplete if I did not mention the support I got from my best friend and roommate Ketumile Pindi Moyo. I am so much grateful to him for staying up late at night encouraging me to keep going when things got tough.
Above all, I thank the Almighty God in Heaven for his love endures forever and for giving me strength, understanding and direction all the times during this project. All the glory goes to him for taking me this far.
AbstractClimate change has emerged as one of the world’s threat to food security throughout the entire globe. This has been evidenced by an increase in extreme weather events such as droughts, and floods leading to crops failures. The main objective of this study was to assess the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy in ward 4 (Marko), in Matobo district, Zimbabwe. Conservation agriculture (C.A) has been widely promoted as a panacea to food security problems faced by smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe and abroad. The mixed methods and case study research design were employed in the study. Data was collected through the use of questionnaires, focus group discussions, interviews, and observations. Probability sampling was used to select 40 households in the study area. Results from the study revealed that C.A improves and result in an increase in crop production which lead to food security amongst C.A Families. Only few farmers are practicing conservation agriculture in ward 4, as most farmers still depend on the drought prone conventional farming method. It emerged that farmers began practicing C.A in ward 4 during the 2004-2005 farming season. Organisations such as Agritex and World Vision Zimbabwe provide conservation agriculture support to farmers. Farmers hinted that the major reason for not practicing the method was that it is very hard, labour demanding, and due to lack of adequate knowledge on C.A. The author recommends that the NGOs to promote conservation agriculture as a climate smart agriculture for arid and semi-arid regions instead of farming for the poor which has led to low uptake in ward 4.
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u Declaration PAGEREF _Toc512431558 h iiDedication PAGEREF _Toc512431559 h iiiAcknowledgements PAGEREF _Toc512431560 h ivAbstract PAGEREF _Toc512431561 h vList of Tables PAGEREF _Toc512431562 h ixList of Figures PAGEREF _Toc512431563 h xList of Plates PAGEREF _Toc512431564 h xiList of Acronyms PAGEREF _Toc512431565 h xiiCHAPTER 1 PAGEREF _Toc512431566 h 11.1 Background of the Study PAGEREF _Toc512431567 h 11.2 Statement of the Problem PAGEREF _Toc512431568 h 21.3 Justification for the Study PAGEREF _Toc512431569 h 31.4 Objectives of the Study PAGEREF _Toc512431570 h 31.4.1 Main Objective PAGEREF _Toc512431571 h 31.4.2 Specific Objectives PAGEREF _Toc512431572 h 31.5 Research Questions PAGEREF _Toc512431573 h 41.6 Theoretical Framework of the Study PAGEREF _Toc512431574 h 41.7 Description of the Study Area PAGEREF _Toc512431575 h 51.8. Structure of the Study PAGEREF _Toc512431576 h 6CHAPTER 2 PAGEREF _Toc512431577 h 72.1. Introduction PAGEREF _Toc512431578 h 72.2. Definition of Climate Change PAGEREF _Toc512431579 h 72.3 Climate Change as a Global Concern PAGEREF _Toc512431580 h 72.4 Conservation Agriculture as Climate Change Response Mechanism PAGEREF _Toc512431581 h 112.4.1 Conservation Agriculture PAGEREF _Toc512431582 h 112.4.2 The Principles of Conservation Agriculture PAGEREF _Toc512431583 h 122.4.3 Global origins of Conservation Agriculture and its adoptions PAGEREF _Toc512431584 h 132.5 Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc512431585 h 15CHAPTER 3 PAGEREF _Toc512431586 h 163.1 Introduction PAGEREF _Toc512431587 h 163.2 Research Design PAGEREF _Toc512431588 h 163.3 Sources of Data PAGEREF _Toc512431589 h 173.3.1 Primary Data Sources PAGEREF _Toc512431590 h 173.3.2 Ethical Considerations PAGEREF _Toc512431591 h 183.3.3 Secondary Data Sources PAGEREF _Toc512431592 h 193.4. Problems of the Research PAGEREF _Toc512431593 h 193.5 Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc512431594 h 19CHAPTER 4 PAGEREF _Toc512431595 h 204.1 Introduction PAGEREF _Toc512431596 h 204.2 Respondents Household Profile PAGEREF _Toc512431597 h 204.2.1 Education Level PAGEREF _Toc512431598 h 214.2.2 Duration of Residence PAGEREF _Toc512431599 h 224.3 Conservation Agriculture and its Applicability PAGEREF _Toc512431600 h 234.3.1 Conservation Agriculture Adoption in Ward 4 PAGEREF _Toc512431601 h 234.3.2 Crops grown under Conservation Agriculture PAGEREF _Toc512431602 h 264.4 Impact of Conservation Agriculture on farming Landscape PAGEREF _Toc512431603 h 274.4.1 Conservation Agriculture and food security. PAGEREF _Toc512431604 h 284.5 Role of Government and NGOs in Promoting Conservation Agriculture. PAGEREF _Toc512431605 h 304.5.1 Organisations Providing Conservation Agriculture Support in Ward 4 PAGEREF _Toc512431606 h 324.6 Factors Influencing the full Adoption of Conservation Agriculture PAGEREF _Toc512431607 h 344.6.1Reasons for not practicing Conservation Agriculture in ward 4. PAGEREF _Toc512431608 h 354.6.2 Factors affecting Farming in the Ward. PAGEREF _Toc512431609 h 384.6.3 Reasons why Conservation Agriculture Uptake is low in Ward 4. PAGEREF _Toc512431610 h 394.6.4 Strategies to increase Conservation Agriculture Uptake PAGEREF _Toc512431611 h 414.7 Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc512431612 h 42CHAPTER 5 PAGEREF _Toc512431613 h 435.1 Conclusions PAGEREF _Toc512431614 h 435.2 Recommendations PAGEREF _Toc512431615 h 455.2.1Recommendations for further research PAGEREF _Toc512431616 h 45APPENDICES PAGEREF _Toc512431618 h 46Appendix 1: A QUESTIONNAIRE PAGEREF _Toc512431619 h 46Appendix 2: Interview Guide PAGEREF _Toc512431620 h 50Appendix 3: Focus Group Discussion Guide PAGEREF _Toc512431621 h 51REFERENCES PAGEREF _Toc512431622 h 52
List of TablesTable 4. SEQ Table * ARABIC 1 Period of stay within the community by Respondents…………………………………………33
List of Figures TOC h z c “Figure” Figure 1.1 Location of ward 4 in Matobo District. PAGEREF _Toc512807237 h Error! Bookmark not defined…………………………………………………………17
Figure 4.2 Distribution of Respondents by Gender PAGEREF _Toc512807238 h 20Figure 4.3 Distribution of respondents by age PAGEREF _Toc512807239 h 21Figure 4.4Respondents Employment Status PAGEREF _Toc512807240 h 22Figure 4.5Conservation Agriculture Practice PAGEREF _Toc512807241 h 23Figure 4.6 A Profile of Conservation Agriculture Practices. PAGEREF _Toc512807242 h 24Figure 4.7 Crops Cultivated under C.A PAGEREF _Toc512807243 h 26Figure 4.8 Agricultural Produce……………………………………………………………………………………..38 Figure 4.9 Harvested nothing under C.A PAGEREF _Toc512807244 h 27Figure 4.10 Harvests comparison between C.A and C.F PAGEREF _Toc512807245 h 28Figure 4.11 Food security……………..…………………………………………………………………………….………39 Figure 4.12 Sufficient Agricultural produce PAGEREF _Toc512807246 h 29Figure 4.13 Farming Support received by Respondents PAGEREF _Toc512807247 h 31Figure 4.14 Farmers Group PAGEREF _Toc512807248 h 34Figure 4.15 Reasons why majority farmers do not practice C.A in ward 4 PAGEREF _Toc512807249 h 36Figure 4.16 Respondents Factors Hindering Conservation Agriculture in Ward 4. PAGEREF _Toc512807250 h 37Figure 4.17 Problems affecting Respondents Farming Method. PAGEREF _Toc512807251 h 39Figure 4.18 Reasons affecting C.A uptake PAGEREF _Toc512807252 h 41
List of PlatesPlate 4.1 Manure application by a Farm Worker……………………………………………………….………40
Plate 4.2 Donkeys pulling a Plough………………………………………………………………………….….…….50
Plate 4.3 Tractor used during Conventional Farming…………………………………………….….……….50
List of AcronymsCA Conservation Agriculture
CF Conventional Farming
SDGs Sustainable Development Goals
UNFCC United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
SPSS Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
SSA Sub Saharan Africa
NGOs Non-Governmental Organisations
FGDs Focus Group Discussions
GHGs Greenhouse Gases
ICRISAT International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Trop
CHAPTER 1Background of the Study
Climate change has emerged as one of the world’s challenge that affects growth amongst countries. It continues to pose major threats to the concept of achieving sustainable development at national and international levels. The rapid pace of climate change coupled with rapid increase in global population and slow income growth, threatens food security globally. Climate change impacts experienced worldwide include changing weather patterns, rising sea levels and more extreme weather events such as veld fires, floods, heat waves and droughts (FAO 2012). These extreme events such as temperature rises and changing rainfall patterns pose an eminent threat to global food production. Efforts by the International community to mitigate climate change though the elapsed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been under way for decades. However, climate change impacts are still heavily felt mainly by the vulnerable developing countries FAO 2012). The SDG number 13 directly looks at the issues of climate change, as it looks on climate action. Moreover, the adoption of the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) in 1992 embodied the International Community’s commitment to address the global climate change problem.
According to UNFCCC (2007) Africa is considered as one of the most vulnerable regions in the world due to widespread poverty, limited coping mechanisms and its variable climate. This is buttressed by prolonged droughts in the Eastern Africa, unprecedented floods in western Africa and the depletion of rain forest in equatorial Africa. The GIGI Special Report (2009) noted that, the Horn of Africa’s pastoralist areas (Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia Border) have been severely hit by recurring droughts leading to around 11 million livestock lost. Climate change effects have affected and continue affecting agricultural production and food security, health, water and energy sectors thereby undermining Africa’s ability to develop. No part of the world remains untouched by the climate change phenomena and its effects. Zimbabwe is not an exception as it is vulnerable to climate change impacts as a result of its heavy dependence of rain-fed agriculture. Agriculture is the country’s leading socio-economic activity sustaining almost 80% of the population. Agricultures sensitivity to climate induced water stress has led to heavy devastating droughts leading to crop failures and food insecurity amongst the smallholder farmers (Brow et al 2012). The worst affected regions are in the drier parts of the country in Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces where rainfall has become low and unreliable (Gogo 2012). In Matabeleland South, Matobo district is the leading section with high cases of droughts and food shortages due to climate change.
It is in this context of food insecurity, hunger and starvation that the concept of conservation agriculture has emerged as a panacea for climate induced droughts and food problems throughout the world. Conservation agriculture plays a major role towards food security if properly adopted and practiced by farmers. The study seeks to understand how conservation agriculture has been used as a climate change mitigation strategy within the agricultural sector by small-scale community farmers. The area of interest is Ward 4 (Marko) in Matobo District where droughts are dominant.
1.2 Statement of the ProblemThe economy and the livelihood of the rural population in Zimbabwe are highly vulnerable to climate change due to heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture (GOZ 2010). Agriculture is considered as the backbone of the country, providing employment and livelihood for about 70% of the Zimbabwe’s population. As a result, the backbone of the country’s economy has been severely hit by a series of droughts due to climate change affecting the nation. The rise in temperatures coupled with rainfall variability has led to a fast track decline in agricultural out puts leading to hunger and starvation. Maize is the most cultivated crop within the country and has been greatly affected by climate change. This has led to low yields and food insecurity in Zimbabwe. The failure of the agriculture sector has an effect and a direct bearing on four dimensions of food security. These include food availability, food accessibility, food utilization and food systems. Farmers in marginal environments faces a rise in temperatures coupled with low and unreliable rainfall, resulting in the shifting of the traditional farming seasons. The changing global environment further promotes devastating droughts thereby weakening the food security of the nation. Food insecurity mainly in Matobo District has led to a dependency syndrome by the rural masses. This is so as the rural poor heavily rely on Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) for food aid so as to alleviate hunger in the area. According to FAO (2008), Zimbabwe in the past two decades has been characterised with increase in food and nutrition insecurity at household and national level due to climate change.
1.3 Justification for the StudyClimate change is one of the key areas widely researched throughout the globe as it has perverse impacts to food dimension’s and sustainable development. So many studies have been conducted concerning climate change and its impacts ever since the industrialisation era. Research resulted in various climate change mitigation measures put in place in which the so called conservation agriculture was adopted so as to ensure food security. Conservation agriculture has been praised in most developed and some developing countries by FAO as a climate change panacea to food crisis affecting the globe. However, with specific reference to ward 4 (Marko), this remains a myth due to lack of detailed studies and publications evaluating the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy. As a result, the study seeks to scrutinise the role played by conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy. The area of interest is ward 4 in Matobo District of Zimbabwe, where droughts and food insecurity are at climax. Generally, there is a research gap concerning the role of conservation agriculture in the area. Therefore, the study will contribute more to the body of knowledge as no study of this nature has been done in ward 4.
This study advocates for bringing out factors affecting the adoption of conservation agriculture as there is still high hunger and starvation in that particular area. The findings will help in terms of sparking intervention mechanisms in the ward. Also farmers will benefit through being enlightened on the important role played by this form of farming in a climate change enslaved global village.
1.4 Objectives of the Study 1.4.1 Main ObjectiveTo assess the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy.
1.4.2 Specific ObjectivesTo assess the extent of the use of conservation agriculture in ward 4.
To evaluate the impacts of conservation agriculture on the farming landscape of ward 4.
To assess the role of the government and NGOs in promoting conservation agriculture in the ward.
To identify factors affecting the full adoption and practice of conservation agriculture in the ward.
1.5 Research QuestionsWhat is the extent of the use of conservation agriculture in ward 4?
What is the impact of conservation agriculture on the farming landscape of ward 4?
What is the role of the Government and NGOs in promoting conservation agriculture in the ward?
What factors affect the full adoption and practice of conservation agriculture in the ward?
1.6 Theoretical Framework of the StudyThe Food entitlement approach was propounded by Sen during the late 1970s. The entitlement approach concentrates on each person’s entitlements to commodity bundles including food, and views starvation as resulting from a failure to entitlements (Sen, 1984). In this context, hunger relates not only to food production and agricultural expansion, but also to the functioning of the entire economy and of the political and social arrangements that can, directly or indirectly, influence people’s ability to acquire food and to achieve health and nourishment. For one to really understand the genesis of famines, attention should not be focused on the total food supply in the economy but on the ‘entitlement’ that each person enjoys. (Sarracino, 2010). Devereux (2001) highlighted the four categories of entitlements which are production based, trade based, labour based and transfer based entitlements. Moreover, entitlements depend on two elements; the personal endowments, which are the resources a person legally owns such as house, livestock, land, and non-tangible goods, as well as the set of commodities the person can have access to through trade and production (Burchi and De Muro, 2012). Usually a decline of endowments can ultimately lead a person to high starvation. Therefore, people became food insecure due to a breakdown of the ability of a person to exchange his entitlements.
The entitlement approach contributed to re-address the problem of hunger and famine by diminishing the role of aggregate food supply and giving more relevance to the socio-economic conditions of people. The entitlement approach is comprehensive in understanding food security both at household and national levels as it focuses on what people produce from their pieces of land, what they can obtain by trading their physical assets, what they can obtain through the sale of their labour as well as what is legally given to them. Food security is not about having enough food at either national or household levels but about people being entitled to food through a variety of means (Sen 1981). This approach guided this study to question smallholder farmers in ward 4, the kind of assets people have, their income levels, their yields due to conservation agriculture or conventional farming as well as the size of the household, in an effort to check whether their yields and assets translate to food security.
1.7 Description of the Study Area The study area (Ward 4) is located about 130km, from Bulawayo, in the south eastern part of Matobo District in Matabeleland South Province. The district and ward population is 92796 and 4934 respectively (ZIMSTAT, 2015). The ward has a total of 988 households distributed amongst seven villages in the area. Crop production, mining, mopane worms harvesting and animal rearing are the main economic activities sustaining these households. Ward 4 is found on the southern side of Matobo District which is one of the dry areas in the District. The area is mainly suitable for extensive beef production as evidenced by high quality livestock’s in the area.
Ward 4 lies under Natural Farming Region 5, receiving rainfall of less than 500mm a year. Long dry spells and high summer temperatures of up to 40 degrees’ Celsius mean that the area is dry. These conditions have led to high incidence of crop failures in the district and ward. The result has been severe food crisis as evidenced by the influx of Food Aid Agencies such as World Vision and Catholic Services. Farmers in the region grow drought tolerant crops like sorghum, millet, short season maize varieties and other traditional crops that have survived the harsh environmental conditions in the area and the region at large.
Ward 4 is administered traditionally by chief Nyangazonke as the headman of the villages. He is a working with various sobhuku’s who are in charge of seven sub-villages, thus the ward still upholds traditional ways of life. The vegetation is of a savannah type composed of drought tolerant trees like Mopane and Acacia Karoo. Subsistence farming is dominant in the area as farmers rely on seeds from previous harvest, donations and use animals mainly cattle or donkeys as drought power although some are now using tractors.
The area is also dominated by high emigration into the neighbouring countries such as South Africa, Botswana and others moving into towns like Bulawayo. As a result, there is loss of the active youths to actively work in the agricultural fields. This is one of the factors fuelling food insecurity amongst households as the elderly can no longer manage to actively cultivate the fields.
Figure SEQ Figure * ARABIC 1 Location of ward 4 in Matobo District
1.8. Structure of the Study
The report of this study is presented in five chapters. Chapter 1 gives an introduction to the study by highlighting the background to the climate change problem. The chapter also presents the problem statement, objectives and justification for carrying out the study. Chapter 2 covers a review of literature on conservation agriculture. Chapter 3 provides the methodology of the study which discusses research methods and data collection tools adopted to achieve objectives. Interpretation of research findings and data analysis are discussed in chapter 4, while chapter 5 provides the summary, recommendations and conclusion of the study.
2.1. IntroductionThis chapter begins by providing a review of literature on climate change and its impacts in agriculture. The impacts of climate change on a global, regional and national scale are reviewed. Further, a review of literature on conservation agriculture as a climate change response mechanism is provided. Also case studies on research that has been conducted in Zimbabwe and elsewhere concerning the origins and the successes, failures and challenges of conservation agriculture in ensuring food security are reviewed as well.
2.2. Definition of Climate ChangeThe phenomenon of climate change is one of the most debated concept throughout the globe. Therefore, no single definition can be used to understand and describe what climate change really is. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) defines it as, significant variation of the mean state of climate relevant variables such as temperature, precipitation and wind in a certain period of time, usually over an extended period 30 years. IPCC (2006) pinpoints, the term “climate change” as changes that are induced by human activities such as the emission of greenhouse gases and aerosols thereby resulting in the shifting of the temperature composition hence causing the greenhouse effect. The global climate change mainly driven largely by human induced warming of greenhouse gases (GHGs) is a growing threat to humanity. This is so as the world experienced a surface temperature rise of 0.6 degrees Celsius on average during the 20th century and the temperature by the year 2100 is projected to go as high as 6.4 degrees Celsius if greenhouse gases are not reduced IPCC (2007).
2.3 Climate Change as a Global ConcernClimate change and food insecurity are two of the most pressing challenges facing the global community today. According to FAO (2010), in its world 2010 report, estimated that the number of chronically hungry people in the world has reached a total of 925 million and is expected to continue increasing due to climate change. FAO (2009), argued that about 75% of the worst affected people reside in the rural areas of developing countries, with their livelihoods mainly based on agriculture. A consensus has emerged that developing countries are more vulnerable to climate change than highly developed worlds due to heavily reliance on agriculture in their economies and the lack of capital for adaptive measures Parry et al (2001)
Studies have shown that climate change and global warming are already causing serious negative impacts in the globe, mainly affecting the livelihoods and the environment. Meen (2010), articulated that climate change is causing an accelerated melt down of snow and glaciers in the Hindu Kush-Himalayan region. These mountain range (Himalayans) are the major sources of water for millions of people. Also they play a major role in global atmospheric circulation, biodiversity, agriculture and in hydropower worldwide. However, global warming is melting glaciers not only in Himalayan region, but also in every region of the world Corell (2007). This has resulted in millions of people vulnerable to high risks from natural disasters such as floods, droughts and lack of safe drinking water The Himalayan glaciers are considered as amongst the fastest retreating glaciers than elsewhere. These glaciers are considered to be retreating at rates ranging from 10 to 60m per year with small glaciers completely vanished in the region Meen (2010). According to Corell (2007), it is projected that, if the current situation of climate change prevailed, the glaciers could disappear by the year 2305.
Climate change is adding significant uncertainty to the availability of water in many regions in the near future. According to Jimenez et al (2014), it will affect precipitation, runoff and snow/ice melt, with effects on hydrological systems as well as on water quality and ground water recharge. In Cyprus studies by Faurez, Bernard and Gommes (2010) showed that a 13% reduction in rainfall results in a 34% reduction in runoff. Droughts have intensified in most regions due to combination of unreliable precipitation and increased evapotranspiration leading to crop failures IPCC (2012). The IPCC (2012), further identified the most drought prone areas in the 21st century as these Central and Southern Europe, Mediterranean region, Central North America, Northeast Brazil and Southern Africa. While FAO (2013) argued that, an increase in temperatures will trigger high demand for water for evapotranspiration by crops and natural vegetation and will lead to more rapid depletion of soil moisture. Muller and Elliot (2015), highlighted that, major agricultural producers in temperate zones such as the European Union for wheat or the United States of America for maize can be subject to serious impacts of climate change. This would be a result of reduced water availability during growing season and intense heat events resulting in reduced productivity. However, it should be realised that these nations tend to have more flexibility for adaptation and mitigation measures Muller and Elliot (2015).
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region is considered as most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change because of its high dependence on agriculture Alkire and Housseini (2014) and natural resources, warmer climates, low precipitation and low adaptive ability Thornton et al (2008). According to Haile (2005) climate variability and extreme weather events such as drought, excessive rains and floods are identified as the main risks affecting agricultural productivity and household food security. In Africa the failure of the rainy season has some repercussions to the agricultural sector, mainly resulting in reduced food availability at household level and limiting employment possibilities Haile (2005). The Sub-Saharan Africa temperatures are expected to increase above the global average coupled with variations in rainfall across the region Ringler et al (2010).
A study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007) showed that rainfall will decrease in northern and southern Africa and increase over Ethiopian and East African highlands, with increased frequency and extreme events. Temperatures are also projected to increase leading to levels beyond tolerance range hence severely affecting the current crop varieties and livestock species Afenyo (2015). There is no doubt that climate change is one of the most crucial challenges facing smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa in the recent past due to evidence of extreme events in the region. Smallholder farmers in SSA are negatively affected by a series of events ranging from losses in crop and livestock production, leading to disruption of livelihoods and high poverty AGRA (2014). Agricultural production and access to food in many African countries is projected to become severely compromised due to climate change. This emanate from the fact that most African agriculture is mainly rain-fed hence being prone to climate change impacts Below et al (2010).
However, some regions within the Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to experience improved agricultural productivity due to climate change. Calzadilla et al (2013), shows that some parts of the eastern Africa, specifically the Horn of Africa and central Africa will see their agricultural production increasing by 25%. This will be due to the high expected rainfalls in these regions Collier et al (2008). This will result in the high maize yields in Kenya and in Rwanda thereby resulting in food security in these areas. Therefore, climate change can be viewed in two directions that is a curse and a blessing to Sub-Saharan Africa.
Various reports produced by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2001,2007,2012) concluded that Africa will face increased water stress, decreased yields from rain-fed agriculture, increased food insecurity and malnutrition. According to Madwamuse (2010), Africa is a vulnerable region due to high poverty, limited coping capacity and its highly variable climate. Zimbabwe is vulnerable due to its heavy dependence on rain-fed agriculture and climate sensitive resources Chagutah (2010). Agriculture’s sensitivity to climate induced water stress is likely to intensify the existing problems of declining agricultural outputs, declining economic productivity, poverty and food insecurity amongst the smallholder farmers. Hellmuth et al (2007) highlighted that Zimbabwe will likely to be affected by extreme events such as heat waves, droughts, floods and tropical storms leading to loss of crops and development. According to the Zimbabwe Meteorological Service, daily minimum temperatures have risen by 2.6 Degrees Celsius over the last century, while daily maximum temperatures have risen by 2 Degrees Celsius during the same period. Changes in the climate has led to the shifting of the Zimbabwe’s main five main agro-ecological zones for example Chinhoyi and Chibero have shifted from natural region two to natural region three IPCC (2012). The UNFCCC (2007) observed that climate in Zimbabwe is increasingly becoming warmer with more erratic rainfall patterns. IPCC (2012) projects that in the South western parts of the country, sorghum and maize will be highly vulnerable to climate change while cotton will be less vulnerable.
According to Steenwerth et al (2014), several options have been proposed for smallholder farmers in Zimbabwe to adapt to climate change in their agricultural activities. One of the major adaptation mechanisms promoted is the concept of climate smart agriculture (CSA) and conservation agriculture (CA). Climate smart agriculture is widely perceived to offer the best option for addressing the core challenges of climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture Adhikar et al (2015). CSA which is defined by its intended outcomes, rather than specific farming practices, is composed of three main pillars namely sustainably increasing agricultural productivity, adapting and building resilience to climate change and reducing greenhouse gases emissions relative to conventional practices FAO (2013). Therefore, CSA seems promising to unlock the smallholder farmer’s agricultural prosperity in Zimbabwe and abroad.
2.4 Conservation Agriculture as Climate Change Response Mechanism.
2.4.1 Conservation AgricultureConservation Agriculture (CA) is being widely promoted as a panacea to food security problems faced by smallholder farming families in Zimbabwe and abroad. United Nations (2009) noted that, close to half of Zimbabwe’s population are food and nutrition insecure due to climate induced droughts. One technology currently praised as an option for promoting soil fertility and water management has been the conservation of soil, water and nutrients under conservation agriculture practices. Therefore, conservation agriculture has been considered as one farming method that has been observed to better agree with the changing climatic conditions Masara (2016). CA has also been considered as one of the ‘climate smart agriculture’ technologies with ability to deliver and mitigate climate change impacts.
According to Moyo (2013) conservation agriculture is a farming system that conserves, improves and makes more efficient use of natural resources through integrated management of available resources combined with external inputs. While Hobbs and Govaerts (2010) highlighted that conservation agriculture is a climate change adaptation strategy where improved soil quality and improved nutrients cycling will improve the resilience of crops to adapt to climate change. Mazvimavi et al (2010) argues that CA is a way of managing agro-ecosystems to achieve higher, sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while conserving the environment. This is usually achieved through improved soil management and the application of three conservation agriculture principles. These principles include minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations Mazvimavi et al (2010). The Cornell’s University College of Agriculture (2016) describes CA as ‘a set of soil management practices that minimise the disruption of the soil’s structure composition and natural biodiversity. As a result, conservation agriculture has been widely recommended for climate change and climate variability adaptation in both high and low rainfall areas.
2.4.2 The Principles of Conservation AgricultureFAO (2013) noted that, CA rests on the three interlinked principles of minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation. However, in order to gain the full benefits of CA, all the three principle have to be applied at the same time. Through minimal soil disturbance, the idea promoted under this technology is to disturb the soil as little as possible. This is achieved by digging permanent planting basins (basin tillage) of 15cm long, 15cm wide and 15cm deep at 90 x 60 cm spacing. Another option used under minimal soil disturbance usually associated with mechanised farms is ripping at 90 x 30 cm spacing and 15 cm deep using an animal or tractor powered ripper tine Hove and Twomlow (2008). The basin planting technology has been promoted in Zimbabwe as a CA option for vulnerable households with poor or no access to animal draft power. Therefore, it usually involves the use of a hand hoe in digging the basin pots. This basin and ripping technology facilitates the water capture by the basins, little soil disruptions which favours the crop growth Hove and Twomlow (2008). This is unlike conventional farming which involves intensive tillage thereby leading to high soil degradation and soil erosion in most developing countries.
The other principle associated with conservation agriculture is the permanent soil cover technique. Crop residues are retained in the fields as mulch or cover crops are grown so as to act as permanent cover Hove and Twomlow (2008). This protects the soil from the physical impact of rain and wind and also helps retain soil moisture. It also improves water retention and infiltration hence leading to high crop production. Moreover, the high moisture retention as a result of residues provides an opportune environment for vegetation and crop growth. While in conventional farming farmers remove, burn the crop residue or mix it into the soil using a plough. This results in the soil exposed hence increasing dangers of soil erosion.
The third principle under conservation agriculture is the practice of crop rotation. This involves the planting of various mix of crops in the same fields and rotating crops from season to season Moyo (2013). This plays a major role in alleviating the problems of plant pests and diseases in the fields. On the other hand, under conventional farming, the same crop is planted from time to time leading to growth of weeds and outbreak of plant pest and diseases Baudron et al (2007).
2.4.3 Global origins of Conservation Agriculture and its adoptionsConservation agriculture delivers well recognized economic and environmental benefits in a range of agro-ecosystems globally. Conservation agriculture is now practiced worldwide although originated in the USA in the 1950s and during that period till around 2007 USA had the largest area under no till worldwide Kassam et al (2009). Asian and African countries are considered to have also began to take up conservation agriculture practices in the last 10-15years Friendrich et al (2009). Kassam et al (2012) postulates that, the total worldwide area of adoption in 2011 was estimated at 125 million ha, most of this located in North America, South America and in Australia. The highest rates of adoption and the best quality conservation agriculture are concentrated in Latin America. This is so as in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay conservation agriculture exceeds 60% of the total agricultural land leading to high agricultural productivity in the region Derpsch (2005).
In Southern Africa so much research has been conducted on the subject of conservation agriculture (CA) and has received promotional support by various organisations such as FAO in the past decades. It has been largely promoted as one of the few win-win technology affordable to farmers with potentially to improve yields at the same time conserving the environment Siziba (2008). In Zambia conservation agriculture was introduced to smallholder farmers by the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) in 1996 Umar et al (2011). While in Malawi it was introduced by Sassakawa Global in 1998.
In Zambia conservation agriculture is widely promoted through the use of incentives by NGOs such as Care International meant to increase its adoption in the country Umar et al (2011). Friedrich et al (2012), highlighted that, although the use of CA in Sub-Saharan Africa is limited overall, its use in Zambia is relatively substantial. This is so as a total area of 40 000ha are cultivated using CA practices, a greater amount than in every other Sub-Saharan African country. The total number of farmers practicing CA is not clear however an estimate of around 120 000 Zambian farmers was reported in 2007 to be using CA in their farming Neubert et al (2011). Planting basins and ripping are the most widely practiced technologies in Zambia hence leading to high agricultural production. Also farmers use animal traction rippers and animal traction direct speeders imported from Brazil. According to Thierfelder et al (2013), conservation agriculture has resulted in a 75-91% higher maize yields in Zambia. While Baudron et al (2007) pointed out that, Zambia is one of the country considered with a largest conservation agriculture area in Southern Africa.
In Zimbabwe, Conservation agriculture has been increasingly promoted with smallholder farmers since 2003/2004 cropping seasons by the Zimbabwe Ministry of Agriculture and numerous non-government organizations through various donor funded relief initiatives with the aim of improving crop production among vulnerable farmers Mazvimavi et al (2008). Farmers in Zimbabwe have shown a growing interest in conservation agriculture mainly due to its gains in yields as a result of adoption and practice of this method. The conservation agriculture option that has been mainly promoted in Zimbabwe amongst the smallholder farmers is a manual system based on planting basins. These planting basins act as planting stations for the crops in the fields Twomlow et al (2006). Mazvimavi and Twomlow (2009) argued that, CA in Zimbabwe was mainly promoted as a solution to the production problems facing smallholder farming families. This is so as conservation agriculture have potential to provide resilience against drought and sustainable increase crop productivity FAO (2001).
A study carried out by International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in 2008-2009 in Matabeleland North, Zimbabwe showed that, farmers implementing conservation agriculture achieved a 25-65% higher yields in their CA plots compared to conventional tillage. Also the study revealed that during the 2010 cropping season about 88262 households were practicing some elements of the conservation agriculture in their fields Marongwe et al (2011). Various organisations such as ICRISAT, FAO, Catholic relief services Care International and other NGOs have been identified as the major pioneers of CA adoption in Zimbabwe.
However, critics of the conservation agriculture have argued that the NGO agricultural projects have limited success in addressing production constraints of smallholder farmers Nhodo et al (2011). They also argue that conservation agriculture projects have fostered and entrenched a dependency syndrome to farmers through reliance on subsidized inputs. This greatly affects the crop production by these smallholder farmers.
2.5 ConclusionFocus on this chapter was on literature pertaining to the study. Climate change is a global concern accelerating food insecurity which also a global problem, thus it was explained from a global, regional and national perspective. Conservation agriculture was explained as a more promising and suitable climate change response and adaptation strategy. Cases from different countries concerning the study were explained so as to validate the effects of climate change on rain-fed agriculture and conservation agriculture was proven to be the reliable mitigation response to these global problems. The next chapter shall dwell more on the research methodology that was used in the study.
CHAPTER 3RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1 IntroductionThis chapter provides an overview of the research methodology for the study. Primary and secondary sources of data are herein presented. It also highlighted some of the constraints that were faced during data collection.
3.2 Research DesignResearch design provides the glue that binds and holds the research project together. It shows the major parts of the project, sampling groups, measures, treatments or programmes and methods that work together to address the central research questions. The function of a research design is to ensure that the evidence obtained enables us to answer the research questions as clearly as possible (Punch, 2006).
The research was a case study of the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy in ward 4 (Marko), Matobo District in Zimbabwe. This study was cross sectional in nature as it collected data only once at one particular time, as opposed to the longitudinal case study which collects data at different points in time. Creswell (2003), highlighted that in a case study, a single person, program, event, process, institution, organisation, social group or phenomenon is investigated in depth. The researcher used a case study as it allowed for deeper understanding for phenomenon under research through focusing on perceptions of farmers in ward 4.
Data collection was done in December 2017, targeting smallholder farmers practising conservation agriculture as well as those practicing conventional farming. Data collection for this study was both qualitative and quantitative in nature. This was done to ensure data quality and validation of findings.
3.3 Sources of Data3.3.1 Primary Data SourcesThe main tool in collecting primary data was a questionnaire administered amongst the selected households in the ward. It consisted of both open ended and closed ended questions. The researcher administered the questionnaires so as to ensure that correct and detailed information was obtained from the respondents. Questionnaire was used mainly targeting smallholder farmers practicing conservation agriculture as well as those not practicing it.
Probability sampling was used to select farmers to participate in the study. This sampling procedure was chosen since it allows for the generalisation of findings to the greater population. A list of 50 farmers practicing conservation agriculture in the ward and a list of 938 households on conventional farming was drawn and these were arranged according to their villages. These farmers were then stratified according to conservation agriculture farmers and conventional farmers guided by their extension officer. It is worth noting that the study mainly targeted conservation agriculture farmers. From the conservation agriculture strata 25 farmers out of 50 farmers in the whole ward were sampled and respondent to the questionnaire. The sample represents about 50% of the sampling frame. On the other hand, from a total of 938 households practicing conventional farming only 15 farmers drawn from all seven villages were sampled for comparison purposes. The justification for this was that all the villages were to be represented. An in-depth study covering 40 households was adopted instead of a large sample that could have provided general and superficial information
The questionnaire required farmers to provide information on benefits of conservation agriculture, their experiences in CA and the challenges encountered during the practices of CA. The questionnaire also sought to gain data on the support farmers receive in their farming and the different institutions supporting them. Farmers were also to indicate the major crops they grow under CA plots as well as highlight on which contribute more towards their household food security between CA and conventional farming. The researcher used the same questionnaire on both farmers under CA and those under conventional farming. The questionnaire had a section within in, that instead of asking questions on their experiences in conservation farming, it required them to explain why they are not practising conservation agriculture in their villages.
A focus group discussion (FGD) was held with ten farmers purposively selected based on their experiences on farming. Five farmers practicing conservation agriculture and five farmers on conventional farming were selected and participated on the discussion. The focus group discussion focused on the origins, implementation, impact of conservation agriculture on the farmers yields and the support they receive. The researcher during these discussions relied mostly on the focus group guide. The discussion was very helpful as farmers gave their views concerning the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy in ward.
Personal interviews were conducted with selected individuals selected through purposive sampling. This technique was used based on the fact that the researcher is aware of the role played by key informants and organisations in the ward. Therefore, the researcher was in a better position to purposefully select respondents considered key and with relevant information concerning the study. An open-ended interview guide was prepared and used during these discussions with key informants. key informants selected and interviewed included Lead farmers, Agritex, ICRISAT, Dabane Trust, Orap and Oxfam. They were targeted due to their pivotal role in farming and food relief interventions in Matobo district. During these interviews, the researcher used a cell phone as a recording device to capture important information.
Also field observation was used during the study in the ward. The researcher observed the farming methods practiced in most fields, the principles of conservation agriculture adopted in the farming landscape of the ward. Also the type of crops in the ward was observed by the researcher. During this process, the researcher used a cell phone camera to capture some data observed.
3.3.2 Ethical ConsiderationsMost issues to do with farming in rural areas are very sensitive, therefore issues of research ethics was pivotal in this study. This research was conducted responsibly and in light, respect and according to the moral and legal order of the community. The study considered the issue of informed consent to safeguard the respondent’s rights, confidentiality and dignity. All the respondents were fully versed with the details of the study. Also participation in the research was voluntary and informants were guaranteed of their privacy and confidentiality. Therefore, the rights of informants were respected in the study.
3.3.3 Secondary Data SourcesThe available data and literature on climate change and conservation agriculture was reviewed during the study. The researcher accessed secondary data sources such as journals, library books, articles and internet sources with relevant information on the subject were consulted.
3.4. Problems of the ResearchThe researcher came across a number of challenges during data collection. Most farmers in the area do not keep records of their activities and as such they relied on their memory to respond to most questions which presented a challenge in terms of data quality. Also some of the respondents were reluctant in responding to questionnaire due to the fears of the country’s politics. It was very difficult to find the farmers at their homes since it was a farming season hence it was a challenge to ask them to stop their work so as to respond to the questions. The other problem encountered was due to long distance involved in the ward and this made the administering of questionnaires to be very tiresome. Despite the above mentioned problems faced, the process of data collection was a resounding success.
3.5 ConclusionThe chapter outlined the research design, data collection tools, sampling procedures and problems of the research that were encountered during the study. The next chapter focuses on data presentation, analysis of results and their interpretations.
CHAPTER 4 DATA PRESENTATION, DISCUSSION, ANAYSIS AND INTERPRETATION
4.1 IntroductionThis chapter focuses on the presentation, analysis and interpretation of data which was collected from the research process. Data presentation will be presented using tables, pie charts and graphs generated through the use of SPSS. The findings are discussed in line with the research objectives presented in chapter one.
4.2 Respondents Household ProfileThe respondents to this study were both males and females. Forty (40) respondents to the questionnaire survey, 62% were males and 38% were females. More males took part in the study due to the fact that most household sampled were male headed. Males play a crucial role in rural household general agriculture and all activities involving farming since they are the heads of families. Females on the other hand also play a pivotal role far more than males in agriculture although in terms of participation on the study are being hindered by the dominance of males. 38% females of the study were mostly composed of women headed families hence validating the fact that females also are active in farming as males. Figure 4.2 shows gender distribution of respondents chosen for the study in the ward.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 2 Distribution of Respondents by GenderThe ages of respondents ranged from 20 to more than 66 so as to ensure maximum representation of varied ages groups. The 36-50 age-group and the 51-65 age groups both have the highest representation of 35% each. This is because people of these age group still have more energy to do farming activities. Also due to the fact that these age group were readily available to take part in the study. The age group +66 years had second largest representation of 20% due to that most of these are elderly people residing in the ward. The age group 20-53 years had fewer respondents constituting only 10%, this could be due to that young people are working in towns or have migrated to neighbouring countries.
In terms of marital status, 70% of the respondents were married, 7% single, 0% divorced and 25% widowed. Figure 4.3 below shows distribution of respondents by age.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 3 Distribution of respondents by age4.2.1 Education LevelThe highest level of education attained by respondents is the secondary level constituting a 67%, with primary level constituting 30%, and only 3% for tertiary level. Most of the respondents managed to reach secondary level due to availability of secondary schools in the area and financial stability. Very few respondents were recorded to have acquired tertiary level (3%), this is so most of them migrated to Bulawayo and other areas so as to acquire tertiary education leading to shortage of such people in the area. Most skilled people prefer working in cities so as to enjoy urban lifestyle.
Another household characteristic found to be of importance was the respondent’s employment status. Figure 4.4 show the current employment status of ward 4, the majority being the unemployed. The figure 4.4 shows that 53% are not employed, 42% self-employed and 5% employed. The high unemployment rate is due to economic meltdown thereby forcing most people into self-employment in areas such as farming, mining, firewood selling and cattle herding. The few employed include mine workers, teachers and farm workers.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 4 Respondents Employment StatusThe source of income for most respondents in the ward is the sale of cattle 40%, followed by sale of agricultural produces 38%, mining constituting a 20% and the lowest being employment constituting only 2%. This shows that the majority of rural populations have farming both livestock rearing and crop cultivation as their livelihood. Therefore, agriculture plays a central role in the daily lives of ward 4 people.
4.2.2 Duration of Residence.
The community has been stable with no large outward migration in the area. Most people have lived in the area for more than 24 years (85%) as shown in the table below. People explained that despite having farming problems, the area is peaceful with good livestock pastures hence there is no need to migrate.
No of Years Frequencies Percentage (%)
6-11yrs 3 7.5%
12-17yrs 1 2.5%
18-23yrs 2 5%
+24yrs 34 85%
Total 40 100%
Table 4.1 Period of stay within the community by respondents
4.3 Conservation Agriculture and its Applicability.
The majority of people in ward 4 (Marko) are very familiar with what conservation agriculture (C.A) really is. The proportion of smallholder farmers practice conservation agriculture in their field is shown below (figure 4.5). Majority of farmers 62% have practiced and continue using C.A in their fields compared to 38% farmers who do not practice C.A and rely solely on conventional farming. The study revealed that 25 farmers out of a total of 50 conservation agriculture farmers in the whole ward practice C.A. These farmers represent 62% on the other hand conventional farmers represents 38%. This shows that the few conservation farming farmers in the ward really utilize the concept of conservation agriculture.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 5 Conservation Agriculture Practice4.3.1 Conservation Agriculture Adoption in Ward 4.
The study revealed that farmers in the ward adopted and started practicing conservation agriculture during the 2004-2005 farming season in ward 4 (Marko). Farmers indicated that C.A implementation and adoption was mainly spearheaded by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Cadec working together with Government organs such as Agritex. Interview with ward 4 Agricultural Extension Worker pinpointed out that soon after the adoption of C.A in 2004 there was positive uptake of the farming practice since the implementing NGOs were enforcing the practices. This led to a continuous increase in the number of households venturing into C.A. Farmers who were engaged in training on Conservation Farming during the implementation period adopted it and passed the knowledge to other farmers. This is evidenced by the different years in which the respondents first started Conservation Farming eg most farmers adopted it in the years 2004, 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2014 respectively. The Agricultural Extension Worker also highlighted that currently in the whole ward there are 50 farmers practicing C.A out of 988 households who still remain trapped under conventional farming. This shows that overall the ward is still dominated by conventional farming (C.F) as compared to new conservation agricultural practices.
The study also found that majority of farmers practicing conservation agriculture also have some portion within their field where they cultivated their crops using conventional farming. It emerged that the major reason behind such activity was for comparison purposes 55%, mainly to see which one between C.A and C.F contributed more towards their household food storage. Focus group discussions (FGDs) with conservation farmers indicated that the other reason for practicing conventional farming in other field portion was to have a balanced harvest.
67% Conventional Farmers also revealed that the reason behind practice of conventional farming was due to that it is the most common method of farming. While the other reason was that conventional farming is very fast and easy to carry out as compared to conservation farming which they termed very “labour intensive and demanding”. Also some farmers revealed that conventional farming was less time consuming hence leading to more farmers relying on it over the C.A alternative which is time consuming.
Figure 4.6 below provides a comprehensive list of conservation agriculture practices employed by the farming community under study.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 6 A Profile of Conservation Agriculture Practices.The study found that basin planting was highly valued and used as all conservation farmers used the principle as shown in figure 4.6 above. Focus group discussion with farmers revealed that through basin planting farmers are involved in digging permanent planting basins of 15cm long, 15cm wide and 15cm deep at 90 x 60 cm spacing. The most common reason, put forward by 25% respondents was that basins promotes water capture and promotes little soil disruptions which favours crop growth. According to FAO (2013) conservation agriculture rests on the three principles minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation. As a result, basin planting is widely practiced since it lies under the minimum soil disturbance principle.
Figure 4.6 also show that a large number of C.A farmers practice mulching 24% in their fields. Interviews with Lead Farmers show that farmers mainly practiced live mulching in their farming activities. Most farmers preferred using cow peas as live mulching so as to prevent moisture lose from their cultivated areas. Other farmers used crop residues from their previous harvests as mulch so as to maintain a permanent cover on crops hence preventing soil and crops from physical impacts of rain or wind. Respondents also highlighted that live mulching using leguminous beans plays a central role in enhancing and improving soil fertility in the fields. This is also the major reason most farmers preferred using live mulching in their fields.
Crop rotations is another conservation agriculture practice that has been viewed as important in the area of study. 23% farmers said to have used crop rotations in their conservation agriculture farming. FGDs with farmers revealed that most of farmers are involved in the crop rotations of small-grain varieties of sorghum or millet together with maize and beans. These have an advantage of being known to be adaptive to local conditions and therefore tolerant to the harsh conditions that obtain in the area. Crops grown using this method have more chances of survival as opposed to those grown under monoculture mainly in conventional farming. Intercropping is also another practice employed in the ward as indicated by a total of 8% respondents. This method plays a pivotal role in ensuring that some crops survive even in bad seasons. This is so as different crops are grown within the same line or field bed therefore increasing chances of getting a harvest even in a drought year.
Moreover, the study also revealed that 13% farmers used tide ridging, 8% employed ripping and 3% used tide furrows in their farming activities. The low adoption of these conservation agriculture practices is mainly a result of lack of machinery and technology associated with the so called “mechanised conservation agriculture”.
4.3.2 Crops grown under Conservation AgricultureThe participants were asked which crops do they cultivate under conservation tillage. The results in figure 4.7, show that the majority, that is 34%, grow sorghum in their fields. This indicates the special role played by the small grains in enhancing agricultural productivity and drought adaptation capabilities under conservation agriculture. Other 23% farmers constituted of farmers growing beans mainly cow peas in their agricultural fields. This also shows the role of leguminous plants in providing nutrients and fertility in the soil. Respondents highlighted that beans are mainly grown for mulching purposes and enhancing soil fertility.
Maize crop constituted 20% as most farmers regarded maize as a drought prone crop hence leading to moderate cultivation under C.A while millet 15%, Sweet potato 1% and groundnuts 7%. Interview with ward 4 Agricultural Extension Worker showed that most farmers are encouraged not to grow sweet potatoes and ground nuts using conservation agriculture. This indicates that these mentioned crops do not respond well to conservation agriculture. This is the main reason behind low ground nuts cultivation in the ward. Figure 4.7 below shows the major crops grown using conservation agriculture.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 7 Crops Cultivated under C.AIn terms of the land portion of fields designated to conservation agriculture, the study established that, the majority land that is 88%, constituted of 0,5hectares of land amongst farmers. This makes it easy for farmers to cultivate these designated areas as they are capable of providing the required labour. Conservation agriculture do not even require a large area of land as it can yield more outputs within a very small area. Famers with bigger areas under conservation agriculture are represented by an 8% of land under 1-2hectares and 4% land under 2-3hectares of fields occupied by conservation agriculture. One of the reasons behind this was due to access to machinery associated with mechanised conservation agriculture whereby they can practice ripping.
4.4 Impact of Conservation Agriculture on farming Landscape.
The participants were asked to what happened to their agricultural produce, ever since they started practicing conservation agriculture. The results in the figure 4.8, show that the majority, which is 96%, have their agricultural produce increasing due to conservation agriculture adoption. This indicates that such households have more agricultural productivity compared to conventional farmers. The Agricultural Extension Worker hinted that, there has been a rapid improvement in the yields by farmers on C.A over the years since its inception in the ward.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 8 Agricultural Produce Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 9 Harvested nothing under C.AThe study also established that, even on a very bad year like 2016, farmers on C.A were able to harvest something from their pieces of land under C.A compared to areas under conventional farming. Figure 4.9 above show whether conservation farmers have ever harvested absolutely nothing under their farming method. Results show that, majority of respondents 96% have never harvested zero in their fields. This validates and proves that really conservation agriculture delivers and ensures high agricultural productivity. The few farmers that indicated that they have once in their fields harvested absolutely nothing was due to problem animals that destroyed their crops and due to plant pests and diseases.
Figure 4.10 below show a harvest comparison between farmers practicing conservation agriculture (C.A) and those practicing conventional farming (C.F). Most conservation agriculture farmers (10%) have higher agricultural harvests of 0.5 tonnes as compared with conventional farmers who received a 7% under 0.5 tonnes harvests. Conservation farmers who harvested 1 tonnes constituted 9% against conventional farmers who harvested 7%. Under the 2-3tonnes harvests C.A constituted a 6% which is also far outweighing the conventional farming of only 1%. This highlights that conservation agriculture has a high agricultural harvests amongst the smallholder farmers compared to conventional farming. The questionnaire, focus group discussions as well as interviews for key informants revealed that generally households practicing C.A have agricultural harvests far outreaching those of conventional farming by more than 30%. Fig 4.10 below indicates the harvests comparison between conservation agriculture and conventional farming in the ward.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 10 Harvests comparison between C.A and C.F4.4.1 Conservation Agriculture and food security.The study revealed that most households practicing C.A, 84% agree that conservation agriculture ensures food security within their households and only 16% disagree (figure 4.11). This is caused by the fact that conservation farming increases agricultural production thereby leading to household food security. Most farmers confirmed that through conservation agriculture their yields increased hence leading to high food production. Figure 4.12 show that 92% farmers have their agricultural produce sufficient till the next farming season. This is a result of high agricultural productivity associated with the practice. Focus group discussion (FGDs) with farmers show that small households were likely to be food secure throughout the year due to conservation agriculture compared to larger households.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 11 Food security Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 12 Sufficient Agricultural produce4.4.2 Benefits of Practicing Conservation Agriculture according to respondents
The study established that conservation agriculture has several benefits that promotes its adoption within the smallholder farming sector. About 32% of the respondents considered conservation agriculture as farming method that conserves water. Respondents indicated that Conservation Farming is the best method of conserving water and soil because the little rain is collected or trapped in the basin pot and with the organic manure usually called “Wakwane” (manure) in the basin the moisture content is preserved. This facilitates the plant growth since the available moisture is used mainly by the crops.
Respondents also mentioned that conservation agriculture resulted in high agricultural productivity (30%) in their fields. Interviews with NGOs such as Dabane Trust, ICRISAT and Orap indicated that farmers practicing C.A have shown great improvement in terms of agricultural yields as opposed to ones practicing conventional farming. Farmers with the highest yields are the ones practicing small grains.
The study further revealed that other farmers, that is 22%, considered conservation agriculture as farming practice that saves resources such as manure, fertilizer and inputs. One farmers hinted that, when applying manure there is no spreading (ukuhasa indawo yonke), instead manure is put directly into the basin using the same measurements in all basin pots. Therefore, less manure is lost throughout the farming process. Even the plant seeds are placed precisely and directly in the basin pot thereby ensuring that no plant will grow where it is not wanted. This indicates that C.A is a farming technology that indeed saves resources for a purpose. The researcher through observations in the ward noticed that conventional farmers are wasteful in manure application. This is so as they just spread manure or fertilizer all over their fields, even in areas where there are no crops. Plate 4.1 show a farm worker applying manure on the field under conventional farming.
Plate 4.1 Manure application by a Farm Worker.
Other respondents highlighted that C.A has a great benefit of early planting 16% in the fields. Respondents indicated through focus group discussions that, they adopted the practice because it is timely in terms of operation as it can be done before the onset of rains and the output is achieved early. Under C.A all land preparations in the fields in terms of basin digging and manure applications is done prior to the rainy season. This mean that as soon as the rains come, farmers just plant their crops. Early planting results in seeds geminating with the first rains and better harvests are realized compared to conventional farming.
4.5 Role of Government and NGOs in Promoting Conservation Agriculture.The research finding reveal that the majority of participants both conservation agriculture farmers and conventional farmers, 97%, strongly agree that they receive farming support in the ward. The study findings in figure 4.13 show that the majority of smallholder farmers, 40% receives seeds donations as part of farming support in the area. Interviews with Agricultural Extension Worker and some Lead farmers revealed that most households in ward 4 are given seeds on the onset of the rainy season every year. Maize is the main dominant form of seed crop received by farmers in the area. This is so as maize is the staple diet in the country, thus more households prioritize maize cultivation in their fields.
Fertilizer donations (24%), conservation agriculture trainings (23%) and labour provisions (13%) were indicated as some of the major farming support received by farmers in the ward. Conservation farmers confirmed to have received conservation agriculture trainings in the ward. Various stakeholders partake in educating conservation farmers on how to cultivate their fields using C.A Principles. Respondents revealed that there is a demonstration plot or field (demo plot) designated for carrying out conservation agriculture trainings. Guided by the Agricultural Extension Worker farmers practice C.A in the demo plot as a way of enlightening them on C.A method.
Under labour provisions few conservation agriculture farmers, that is 13%, highlighted that during C. A adoption they used to help each other in farming. This was done through farmers organising themselves into groups (amalima) so that they work in each other’s fields as groups to deal with labour demands. However, there has been a sharp decline in labour provision (ukusizana sokuya kuphela esigabeni) (Helping each other is declining in the village), now people cultivates their own fields without helping each other. One farmer indicated that this was the major reason why there are few farmers practicing conservation agriculture compared to conventional farming in the ward. Figure 4.13 below shows major farming support received by households.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 13 Farming Support received by Respondents.
Respondents were asked whether the above mentioned farming support received ensured them agricultural sustainability in their agriculture. Findings show that the majority, 75% confirmed that the received support plays a pivotal role in their farming hence taking a step towards agricultural sustainability. The other 25% stated that the support received do not ensure agricultural sustainability. The major reason given was that the support received was inadequate (too low e.g. seeds) and unreliable since it can come even at a later stage hence delaying their farming calendar. They stated that seeds donations and fertilizer provisions creates a dependence syndrome amongst farmers which is very dangerous especially when farmers solely rely on such donations.
4.5.1 Organisations Providing Conservation Agriculture Support in Ward 4As mentioned earlier agricultural support such as seed donations, C.A trainings and fertilizer aid have become an important feature of the agricultural landscape in the ward. In fact, 97% of the respondents confirmed receiving donations from organisations such as Agritex, World Vision Zimbabwe, Cadec, Agritex, Orap, Oxfarm and community.
During the past five seasons (2013-2017) farmers confirmed, receiving seeds and fertilizer aid from World Vision Zimbabwe (21%). Interview with the Agricultural Extension Worker and the Lead Farmers highlighted that the World Vision Zimbabwe in 2015 donated conservation agriculture machinery in the ward. The machinery donated included 4 direct seeders and 4 ripper tines for the whole ward. It also established that from 2013-17 Wold Vision Zimbabwe used a system of contract farming whereby 50 C.A, farmers in the whole ward were given red sorghum seeds to cultivate as a way of promoting C.A. This played a major role in enhancing resilience. However, most farmers currently are not using these technologies donated as they consider them technical and hard to operate. Only few farmers in the ward mainly from villages Mashumba, Ratanyane and Hloniphane have the expertise to operate these machineries hence they use them in their farming. The Extension Worker praised the role played by World Vision in the ward as the donated machinery has made some farmers to graduate from manual C.A (digging basins) into mechanised conservation agriculture (ripping).
Conservation farmers also hinted that Cadec (19%) now known as Caritas (Catholic services) played a pivotal role in implementing conservation agriculture in the ward. FGDs and questionnaires revealed that in the 2004-5 season conservation agriculture was implemented and adopted by the smallholder farmers in ward 4. The Catholic services went on to conduct conservation agriculture trainings throughout the ward so as to increase the C.A uptake. To encourage farmers to join the program, Cadec provided seeds and food to households practicing C.A. This resulted in active uptake of the practice during the initial stages. The organisation worked in the ward concerning conservation agriculture for five years from 2004-2008 respectively.
The study also established that the Government through the Department of Agritex (18%), shaped the farming landscape of Marko ward. Ward 4 has an Agricultural Extension Worker representing the Agritex department who works closely with all farmers (mainly Lead farmers) in the ward. The Agricultural Extension Worker plays a farming teaching role in the area, mainly providing technical assistance to farmers. Interviews with NGOs such as Orap revealed that the Agricultural Extension Worker works closely with such organisations in implementing conservation agriculture. Respondents also confirmed that they currently continue having trainings on demo plots guided by the ward Extension Worker. This show that the Government and its Ministries through Agritex plays an integral role in shaping smallholder agriculture.
The study indicated that 17%, of participants received support from Orap while 16% claimed to have received a similar farming support from Oxfarm. Interviews with Orap indicated that, they assist conservation farmers through trainings and seed provision. During the 2017 farming season the organisation provided seed aid of sorghum and cow peas to conservation farmers in the ward. Oxfarm revealed that they provided vouchers to farmers in the ward so as to buy implements or machinery and spare parts. Lead farmers highlighted that the money received from the organisation was used to organise conservation agriculture farmers field days.
Interview with Dabane Trust revealed that the NGO play a critical role in promoting conservation agriculture in Matobo District. The organisation covered the following areas in Matobo District wards 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 in promoting resilient life projects or livelihoods. Different projects targeting increasing resilience are pursued in these wards. It was established that in wards 8, 9, 10 and 11 currently the organisation is promoting women seeding nutrition projects which promote conservation agriculture. The organisation like others support farmers through training and workshops on C.A, and seed donations. However, the organisation has never worked with ward 4 due to that the local authority (RDC) is the one responsible for giving NGOs wards of operational.
Also interview with ICRISAT revealed that the organisation has been promoting C.A as of early 2003 till today. The organisation mainly started with carryout researches on the effects of digging basins or ripping to yields. It also specialise in capacitating various organisations such as World Vision Zimbabwe on Conservation Agriculture implementation. It has covered various districts in Zimbabwe and in Southern Africa. In Zimbabwe District such as Lupane , Hwange, Nkayi, Masvingo, Chimanimani, Mt Darwin and Insiza have been covered concerning conservation agriculture. The organisation through empowering or capacitating World Vision Zimbabwe has indirectly covered Matobo District on which the study area is positioned.
The research findings also reveal that most respondents, 80% are part or were part of farmers group that covers conservation agriculture in the ward. This is due to that NGOs implementing conservation agriculture promote group work amongst farmers so as to help each other in labour provisions. Also farmers are receiving C.A training in these groups hence it is of great importance for one to be part of such group. FGDs established that, farmers learn how to operate machinery such as direct seeders and ripper tine through these groups. Respondents went on to state that these farmers group were of great benefit as the acquired skills and information played a vital part in their day to day conservation farming. Figure 4.14 below show respondents who are part of farmers group covering conservation agriculture practices.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 14 Farmers Group.
4.6 Factors Influencing the full Adoption of Conservation Agriculture.
Farmers in ward 4 were asked by the researcher to give detail on the tools and machinery they use when farming through conservation agriculture. The majority that is 51%, farmers state that they use a hand hoe in farming under conservation agriculture. Most farmers claim that digging the land portion of their agricultural fields using a hand hoe was very tiresome and labour intensive. Therefore, majority of farmers prefer using conventional farming through tractors and ox drawn ploughs than digging fields using a hoe. This is one of the reasons leading to few farmers practicing conservation agriculture in the ward.
27% respondents used a ripper while 22% used a direct seeder in their farming activities. As mentioned earlier, farmers have a challenge in operating machinery such as direct Seders and ripper tines. The few that use them hinted that they faced problems during machinery operating, since it requires some bit of expertise. This show that, these technologies might be the best viable option especially for households with farming equipment. Promotion of such machinery could increase the rate of conservation agriculture practice.
4.6.1Reasons for not practicing Conservation Agriculture in ward 4.Research findings in figure 4.13, reveal that the majority of participants (non C.A farmers), 40% state that conservation agriculture is very hard. Respondents claim that, the farming method is generally hard when compared to conventional farming. Conservation agriculture require more training and skill so as to practice it efficiently, without necessary skills and training the method is far much harder. Farmers hint that this is the major reason behind farmers dropping out of or even not practicing this type of farming.
Respondents practicing conventional farming view conservation agriculture as labour demanding 36% as shown in figure 4.15 below. The practice, requires farmers to dig planting basins using hand hoes, apply manure or fertilizer and weed during winter when others are still relaxing. Respondents reveal that all land preparations and weeding should be done in winter before the onset of rains. Most farmers state that, this is very labour intensive for them as it requires them to be full time working on fields. One farmers commented through a FGDs that conservation agriculture is popularly nicknamed “gebha ufe” (dig and die) due to its labour
Other reasons for not practicing conservation agriculture in the ward is due to lack of knowledge on conservation agriculture and laziness by farmers. Lack of knowledge on C.A (27%), affects farmers as they view conservation agriculture as a useless farming method. Conventional farmers claim that this is a practice for poor people (17%) who lacks farming resources such as animals and tractors. A majority of households who do not practice C.A have never attended any workshop or training on conservation agriculture hence affecting they judgement concerning the practice. Others have doubts that conservation agriculture can deliver high agricultural productivity. Figure 4.15 below indicates the major reasons by respondents why they do not practice conservation agriculture in the ward.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 15 Reasons why majority farmers do not practice C.A in ward 4.
In terms of factors hindering both C.A and conventional farmers from practicing conservation agriculture in the ward, 32% respondents confirmed to have hindrances, while 68% farmer’s state that they do not have hindrance’s in C.A practice (figure 4.16). The majority of participants that is 10%, indicated that healthy conditions was the main factor hindering most households from practicing conservation agriculture. HIV and AIDS as the dominant healthy condition raised, has seriously impacted on the implementation, adoption and practice of conservation farming. Respondents state that through HIV and AIDs their labour force is seriously compromised through ill health and HIV related mortalities mainly of active and able-bodied age-groups. FGDs established that HIV and AIDS affect agriculture as farmers invest their time in caring after the ill instead of doing their farming duties.
Labour shortages (9%) as mentioned above is another factor hindering respondents from actively practicing conservation agriculture. The reason put by respondents was that, there is high outward migration of youths into neighbouring countries like South Africa and towns like Bulawayo for greener pastures. This results in elderly people being left alone to cultivate the fields which poses some challenges.
Other reasons highlighted by participants were that conservation agriculture is time consuming (7%). Respondents hinted that C.A require farmers who are committed in farming throughout the whole year. This is so as the farming method require farmers to do land preparations in the fields mainly during off farm season (winter). The +66years age group complained that conservation agriculture is demanding hence it require younger and active people, old age was their main factor hindering some farmers from conservation farming. Figure 4.16 below show factors hindering respondents in the ward from practicing conservation agriculture.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 16 Respondents Factors Hindering Conservation Agriculture in Ward 4.Participants were asked which principle of conservation agriculture amongst the three namely minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation was a challenge to most farmers. It was interesting to note that, most farmers have a challenge in maintaining permanent soil cover principle throughout their fields. A majority of 72% farmers highlighted to have a challenge with maintaining permanent soil cover. The reason behind was that during winter animals such as cattle, goats and donkeys feed on crop residue which should be used as mulch. Generally, it is a challenge to maintain a permanent soil cover in the ward as there is high cattle ranching which require stock feed, which is derived from such plant residue. In trying to come up with an alternative, NGOs together with the Agricultural Extension Worker encouraged farmers to practice live mulching so as to provide cover mulch.
The study also revealed that crop rotation principle posed some serious challenges for some farmers in the ward. This is buttressed by 28% respondents which indicated to have problems with rotating crops. The major reason put forward by farmers was that maize is the major crop grown in Zimbabwe since it’s a staple food. Therefore, it was difficult to rotate it with the small grain crops. This indicates that most farmers preferred cultivating maize more than other crop varieties which affects the principle of crop rotation.
4.6.2 Factors affecting Farming in the Ward.Both conservation agriculture and conventional Farmers in the ward identified a number of problems associated with their farming method. The majority of farmers that is 32% indicated that their farming practice was highly prone to droughts in the ward as shown in figure 4.17 below. Conventional farmers were identified as the most vulnerable to drought impacts due to monoculture and farming practice that disturbs the soil. Conventional farming promotes loosening of soil which increases the rate of moisture escape in the soil thereby leading to wilting and crop failures. Interview with the Agricultural Extension Worker revealed that drought is the major threat to food security in the ward. The other problems highlighted affecting agriculture is the plant pests and diseases (26%). Responded pointed out that their crops are destroyed by the locusts and army worms.
Most conservation agriculture farmers state that seed germination problem (23%) heavily affects their farming. This is due to the depth of planting basins which results in other seeds failing to germinate. As a result, it becomes labour demanding to replant so as to fill the gaps in the fields. Also under conservation farming planting has to be done according and pot should be of uniform size and depth in order for seeds to germinate.
The other farming problem identified is that conservation agriculture is not suitable for growing groundnuts (18%). This is so as groundnuts do not produce or yield when planted using the basin pot strategy. Respondents pinpoints that they opt to cultivate groundnuts using conventional farming method. While interview with one Lead farmer with critical skills in conservation farming reveal that groundnuts can be grown using C.A through using what is called tide furrows, then plant groundnuts on top of the tide. Figure 4.17 show the problems affecting respondents farming method.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 17 Problems affecting Respondents Farming Method.4.6.3 Reasons why Conservation Agriculture Uptake is low in Ward 4.A number of reasons affecting conservation agriculture uptake were identified during the study. One of these reasons was the over dependence on conventional farming by most farmers in the area. Figure 4.18 show that the most farmers, that is 40%, highly depend on conventional farming as indicated below. The major reason being that it is the only farming method they really understand and they have been practicing down the ages from generation to generation. Therefore, respondents are now reluctant to change. Interviews with NGOs implementing conservation agriculture validated this as they said, the major challenge towards C.A uptake is that farmers resist change in the ward. Farmers are still trapped under the mind-set that conventional farming will deliver as before the advent of climate change.
The other important reason affecting the uptake of conservation agriculture is the underestimation of conservation agriculture by participants. Figure 4.18 reveal that 34% respondents highly underestimate conservation agriculture’s capabilities in delivering food security even during a current climate changing global village. Respondents expressed some doubts in conservation agriculture in yielding more agricultural outputs compared to conventional farming. This is so as they view C.A as a farming method for the poorest people in the society. Therefore, to them conservation agriculture is not the best option for food productivity even in drought years.
The study also established a strong relationship between low conservation uptake and the availability of farming equipment. The availability of farming equipment such as tractors, donkeys and cattle to plough the fields was found to increase the rate of farmers not practicing C.A. 17% farmers highlighted that the availability of farming equipment results in low conservation agriculture uptake. During FGDs, it emerged that most farmers with sufficient farming equipment show no desire or zeal in adopting conservation agriculture. Generally, people with enough farming material in the ward seem to have no interest in this kind of farming method. The researcher observed that most conventional ploughed their fields either using donkey drawn plough or tractors. Plate 4.2 and 4.3 below show main farming equipment used during conventional farming.
Plate 4.2 Donkeys pulling a plough Plate 4.3 Tractor used during Farming.
Time consuming (18%) was another reason by participants affecting the uptake of C.A. As indicated earlier on the study, conservation agriculture involves winter land preparations which require more time. FGDs revealed that farmers consider conservation agriculture activities such as manure application, timely weeding, mulching and fencing fields as very time consuming. Interview with ward 4 Agricultural Extension Worker also validates that, generally farmers are afraid to practice C.A due to that it requires more time during land preparation. As a result, only few committed farmers practice conservation agriculture and produce tonnes of food crops while the majority remain using conventional farming which is prone to climate change impacts.
Only 10% of the respondents confirmed that political interferences have a hand in influencing conservation agriculture uptake in the ward. Respondents elaborated that at one point farmers from one Village (Zwehamba) were to withdraw from attending farmers school lessons due to political reasons involving political parties in the country. Other farmers mainly aligned to ZANU PF are said to do not consider being active in NGOs C.A, trainings as they consider them as agents of regime change spearheading the gospel of turning rural masses against the revolutionary party. It was also established that in some years seed donations mainly by ZANU PF was channelled towards its members hence neglecting the MDC Party members in the ward. This has detrimental effects in the ward as it fuels divisions amongst communities which makes it difficult for the Agricultural Extension Worker to conduct C.A, trainings in the ward.
Interview with ICRISAT revealed a different side why C.A uptake is low in most wards in Zimbabwe. They way conservation agriculture was promoted is the major reason towards a low uptake of the practice throughout the nation. C.A was promoted targeting poor farmers in the society which makes progressive farmers have attitude towards the practice leading to low uptake. The fact that it it’s a farming for the poor, it poses problems when someone graduates from being poor, under logical explanation that individual should stop the practice. Figure 4.18 below show factors affecting C.A uptake in Marko ward.
Figure 4. SEQ Figure * ARABIC 18 Reasons affecting C.A uptake.
4.6.4 Strategies to increase Conservation Agriculture Uptake.
In order to ensure that more farmers engage in conservation agriculture, it was hinted that, there is a need for inclusive approach whereby the affected communities have a say in decision making other than imposing a project on them. The Extension Worker stated that there is high need for various ministries and agencies to come together and carryout conservation agriculture educational trainings or workshops as a way of promoting the practice. Smallholder farmers should be sensitized on the problems associated with conventional farming and how conservation agriculture can transform their agriculture. The Extension Worker also highlighted that to increase C.A uptake, its implementation mainly by NGOs should be of different angle. The C.A concept should be promoted as climate smart agriculture for farmers in arid and semi-arid regions other that agriculture for the poor and vulnerable.
4.7 ConclusionThis chapter focused on the presentation of data that was analysed through the use of Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) software version 21 and Microsoft Excel. It emerged that conservation agriculture has the potential to unlock and transform smallholder farmer’s agricultural productivity. The main agricultural practices of conservation agriculture employed in Marko ward were discussed. The impacts of conservation agriculture on the harvest and yields were also discussed
CHAPTER 5CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 ConclusionsThe aim of this study was to assess the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy in ward 4. The main conclusion derived from this study is that conservation agriculture improves and result in an increase in crop production which lead to food security. Few farmers in the ward practicing conservation agriculture witnessed a high agricultural productivity on the past seasons. The specific conclusions derived are as follows:
There are very few farmers practicing conservation agriculture (C.A) in ward 4 as most farmers still depend on the drought prone conventional farming method. It emerged from the study that farmers began practicing C.A in ward 4 during the 2004-2005 farming season. Even the interviews with key informants validated this, that C.A was adopted by the smallholder farmers during this season. Moreover, majority of conservation agriculture farmers practice basin planting in their fields. Few individuals employ or use ripper tine in ripping their fields. The major reason behind overdependence on conventional farming in the ward is that it is the most common farming method in the locality.
The study also found that even on a very bad year, farmers using C.A principles were able to harvest something from their pieces of land as opposed to conventional farmers. A comparison of harvest between C.A and conventional farming revealed that household practicing C.A have their harvests far outstripping conventional households by 30%. Households with small families confirmed that conservation agriculture ensures food security in their households. The major benefits of practicing C.A identified include water conservation, high agricultural productivity, saving of resources like manure and early planting.
Both conventional and conservation agriculture farmers highlighted that they strongly receive farming support in the ward. Most farmers receive seed donations, fertilizer provisions and conservation agriculture trainings mainly those on C.A. In addition, organisations such as Agritex, World Vision Zimbabwe, Cadec, Orap and Oxfarm play a pivotal role in providing conservation agriculture support to farmers. Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) show that conservation agriculture (C.A) was implemented by Cadec (Caritas,) during the 2004-5 farming season in ward 4 (Marko).
NGOs together with Agritex Agricultural Extension Worker provide conservation agriculture trainings in the ward using a demonstration (demo) field designated for conservation agriculture trainings. Also farmers hinted that they have farmers group where they are being equipped on C.A skill such as machinery operations, digging of basins and manure application in the fields. These farmer’s groups are supervised by the ward Agricultural Extension Worker who provides technical advice and training.
Various factors affecting the full adoption and practice of conservation agriculture in the ward were raised. Majority of conventional farmers indicated that the major reasons for not practicing CA is that it is very hard. They argue that the practise of hoe-digging is cumbersome to farmers who also have other economic activities to do. Labour demanding, lack of adequate knowledge on C.A are also some of the factors affecting the practice of the farming method in the area.
Moreover, majority respondents both C.A and conventional farmers indicated that factors such as time consuming, shortages of labour, health conditions and old age were the main factors hindering the practice of conservation agriculture in the ward. HIV and AIDS was raised as the dominant healthy condition resulting in farmers dropping out or not practicing C.A. This is so as the disease weakens their work force and result in loss of able bodied young people who could work on the fields leaving the old aged without power.
Farmers should focus attention towards the cultivation of small-grain varieties (millet, sorghum) that have proved suitable to harsh environmental conditions in the district.
The Ministry of Agriculture to making it mandatory that NGOs intending to roll out conservation farming provide a minimum package that includes appropriate technologies that can be shared by farmers to minimise labour requirements that have slowed the uptake of conservation farming and even forced some farmers to drop out.
Farmers to be encouraged and equipped so as to adopt and implement mechanised conservation agriculture which involves use of ripper tines and direct seeder instead of laborious basin digging.
Ministry of Agriculture and NGOs to advertise and market conservation agriculture as a climate smart agriculture for arid and semi-arid regions instead of farming for the poor which has led to low uptake in ward 4.
Regular inspection, monitoring and evaluation by Agritex and NGOs to check whether conservation agriculture farmers still follow C.A Principles in their farming.
Ministry of Agriculture and other stakeholders such as NGOs spearheading C.A adoption to carryout massive conservation agriculture educational campaigns so as to change communities’ mind-set concerning the practice.
Agritex, NGOs together with communities to set up proper conservation agriculture demonstration plots in the wards which will serve to motivate and teach new conservation agriculture farmers and clearly show how to adapt it to local conditions.
Farmers in ward 4 to be enlightened on the problems associated with overdependence on conventional practice during this current changing global village.
5.2.1 Recommendations for further researchFurther research should seek to assess the impact of mechanised conservation agriculture on crop yields. APPENDICESAppendix 1: A QUESTIONNAIRE QUESTIONNAIRE FOR FARMERS
Date………………….. Questionnaire number
My name is Mthabisi Moyo, student I.D number L014 0963D. I am a final year student at Lupane State University, doing a Bachelor of Humanities and Social Sciences Honours Degree in Geography and Population studies. I am carrying out a research on the role of conservation agriculture as a climate change mitigation strategy in Marko Ward 4, Matobo South District. Your co-operation in responding to this questionnaire will be appreciated. Information obtained will only be used for purposes of this academic study.
(a) Do not write your name on this questionnaire.
(b) Tick the correct response/ answer.
SECTION A HOUSEHOLD PROFILE
1= Male 2=Female
In which of the following age groups do you fall?
1= 20– 35 years 2= 36 – 50 years 3= 51- 65 4= +66
3. Marital Status
1= Married 2= Divorced 3= Single 4= Widowed
4. Which of the following is your highest education level?
1= Primary 2= Secondary 3= Tertiary 4= Never went to School
Your employment status
1= Employed 2= Self Employed 3= Not Employed
Source of income
1= Employment 2= Sale of agricultural produces 3=Sale of cattle 4= mining
For how long have you lived in this area?
1= ;5yrs 2= 6-11yrs 3= 12-17yrs 4= 18-23yrs 5= +24
SECTION B EXTENT OF CONSERVATION AGRICULTURE PRACTICE
Indicate the number and total area of fields that you cultivate.
1= Number of fields 2= Approximate size in hectares
Are you familiar with conservation agriculture (CA) practices?
1=Yes 2= No
Have you ever practiced Conservation Agriculture on your farm?
1= Yes 2. = No
If yes, when did you start practicing C.A? ………………………………………
Do you also practice traditional farming on other parts of your fields?
1=Yes 2= No
If yes, why do you practice it? ————————————————————————————
Which practices of Conservation Agriculture are you using in your fields?
1= Crop residue/mulching 5= Intercropping
2= Crop rotation 6= tide ridging
3= timely weeding 7= ripping
4= reduced tillage 8= basin’s planting
Other (specify) ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Which crops do you cultivate under Conservation Agriculture?
1=Maize 2= Millet 3= Sorghum
4=Groundnuts 5=Sweet potato other (specify) …………………
How big is the land portion of your fields under conservation agriculture?
1= ± 0, 5 hectares 2= 1-2 hectares 3= 2-3 hectares 4= above 3 hectares
SECTION C IMPACT OF C. A ON THE FARMING LANDSCAPE.
From your previous harvests, which one between the two contributes more to your food storage?
1= Conservation agriculture
If it’s CA, how much do you get? …………………………………
2= Traditional farming
If it’s traditional farming, how much do you get? ………………………..
Ever since you started practicing conservation agriculture, what happened to your agricultural produce?
1= increased 2= decreased 3= not changed
Have you ever harvested absolutely nothing from your fields under conservation agriculture?
1= Yes 2= No
If yes, state any 2 reasons why?
Through the use of conservation agriculture principles, your agricultural produce can be sufficient till the next season?
1= Yes 2= No
In your own view does Conservation Agriculture ensure food security in your household?
1= Yes 2= No
List any 3 most important benefits of practicing conservation agriculture in the ward
SECTION D ROLE OF GOVERNMENT AND NGOs IN PROMOTING C.A
Do you receive any CA/farming support in your ward? 1= Yes 2= No
If, Yes. State the kind of support you are receiving?
(i)………………………………………………………………………………………… (ii)………………………………………………………………………………………… (iii)………………………………………………………………………….…………….
In your own opinion does the support you receive ensure agricultural sustainability in your area?
1= Yes 2= No
State the Organizations providing Conservation Agriculture support in the ward? ………..……………………………………………………………………………………
Are you or were part of any farmers group that covers Conservation Agriculture issues?
1= Yes 2= No
Is the information/skill you acquired from the group helpful in C.A
1= Yes 2= No
SECTION E FACTORS INFLUENCING FULL ADOPTION OF C.A.
Do you have access to technologies associated with mechanized conservation agriculture?
1= Yes 2= No
Which tools and machinery do you use when farming through Conservation Agriculture?
Are there any factors hindering you from practicing conservation agriculture?
1= Yes 2= No
If yes, list any 3 important ones?
Conservation farming is based on 3 principles; minimum soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotation. Which of these is a challenge to farmers in your ward?
1= Minimum soil disturbance 2= Permanent soil cover
3= Crop rotation
Are there any problems associated with your farming practice? 1= Yes 2= No
If yes, state any 3 important ones?
From your own view why is the general uptake of Conservation Agriculture by farmers so low in Marko Ward?
Appendix 2: Interview Guide INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR KEY INFORMANTS
The information will be kept confidential and will be purely for education purposes. Please do not feel obliged to identify yourself.
What is your position in the organization?
What do you understand about Conservation Agriculture?
When was conservation agriculture first introduced in Matobo District?
Who introduced Conservation Agriculture in Matobo District?
Which Wards in Matobo District currently practices Conservation Agriculture in their farming?
Are they any Conservation Agriculture practices adopted and practiced in Marko Ward 4 currently………….. Which ones?
What are the major impacts of Conservation Agriculture noticed on the farming landscape of Marko Ward?
Do households practicing Conservation Agriculture show improvements in food production compared to those on traditional farming?
Who are the major stakeholders/players in Conservation Agriculture in the Ward?
What Conservation Agriculture/ farming support do you give to farmers in Marko Ward?
What role do you play in Conservation Agriculture?
What do you think are the major factors hindering the full adoption and practices of Conservation Agriculture in Marko Ward?
Why is the uptake of Conservation Agriculture so low specifically in Marko Ward?
What can be done to ensure that more farmers and people engage in Conservation Agriculture in Marko Ward?
Appendix 3: Focus Group Discussion Guide GUIDE FOR FOCUS GROUP DISCUSSION
What do you understand about Conservation Agriculture?
Why are you practicing conservation agriculture?
When was conservation agriculture first introduced in your Ward?
Who introduced Conservation Agriculture in your Ward?
What are the major impacts of Conservation Agriculture noticed on the farming landscape of Marko Ward?
Does conservation Agriculture ensure food security in your ward?
Do households practicing Conservation Agriculture show improvements in food production compared to those on traditional farming?
Who are the major stakeholders/players in Conservation Agriculture in the Ward?
What Conservation Agriculture/ farming support do you receive from Government and NGOs in your farming?
What do you think are the major factors hindering the full adoption and practices of Conservation Agriculture in Marko Ward?
What can be done to ensure that more farmers and people engage in Conservation Agriculture in your area
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