Introduction to Conservation Agriculture | WWF Zambia

Introduction to Conservation Agriculture

Posted on
12 September 2017
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is an approach to farming that improves and sustaines productivity, increases profits and food security while preserving and enhancing the resource base and the environment.
With Support from WWF Germany, we have successfully engaged farmers in Sioma to adapt CA practices. Results so far have been exceedingly positive and with time we anticipate having more farmers in Zambia practising CA.
Introducing new CA practices is very difficult, especially when people have used traditional farming methods for years. For this reason, we carry out a series of intensive training to enable the farmers to appreciate, understand and adopt CA practices.  To do this, we establish a Village Action Group (VAG) that comprises of extension agent’s representative of each sub village. The VAG is taken through an 8-stage training on what CA is and what it involves. The following are the 8 stages of training:
 
  1. Site selection- This involves educating the VAG on the importance of choosing the right area to grow their crops, bearing in mind that a place like Sioma has a huge wildlife making it crucial to select an area with minimal wildlife interference. Specifically, the VAG is trained to avoid areas where wildlife and crops would compete for water. Human Wildlife conflict has historically been a serious issue especially in game management areas and national parks.
  2. Land preparation - a well-prepared field controls weeds and recycles plant nutrients. This is important for effective weed control and for enriching the soil.
  3. Manuring CA is affordable and accessible to for all farmers mainly because it does not use synthetic fertilizers. The VAG is trained how to make and sustain compost manure which enriches and preserves the soil.
  4. Crop rotation, the VAG is trained to practice crop rotation because this avoids exhausting the soil assits to control weeds, pests, and diseases. Crop rotation is very essential in CA.
  5. Crop Diversification is also advised as the benefits are abundant of which among many others are;
  • Increasing income on small farm holdings
  • Withstanding price fluctuation
  • Mitigating effects of increasing climate variability
  • Balancing food demand
  • Improving fodder for livestock animals
  • Conservation of natural resources
  • Minimising environmental pollution
  • Reducing dependence on off-farm inputs
  • Depending on crop rotation, decreasing insect pests, diseases and weed problems
  • Increasing community food security.
 
  1. Timing – this is crucial, when to plant is also explained to the VAG, emphasising the need to plan careful of what seeds to plant per station and when to plant them if their crops are to grow well.
  2. Crop Scouting - is the process of precisely assessing pest pressure (typically insects) and crop performance to evaluate economic risk from pest.
  3. Climate Change/Bad weather, no rains or too much rain. This is crucial because lack of rains/abundance of rains is very harmful to some plants. 
The benefits of CA have been very evident, transforming the lives of Farmers in Sioma. Many success stories have been recorded, leading to increased adoption of the CA practices in the area. In future, with sustained support from our partners, we hope to extend Conversation Agriculture country wide.
#TogetherPossible

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