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Cultivating sustainable livelihoods: Socioeconomic impacts of conservation agriculture in southern Africa

Cultivating sustainable livelihoods: Socioeconomic impacts of conservation agriculture in southern Africa
Jul 2010

Regional Emergency Office for Southern Africa (REOSA) Technical Brief 2, July 2010

Southern Africa has high levels of food insecurity with stunting levels of more than 20% in several countries. Many countries in the region are net importers of staple food. This is partly due to low staple crop yields, with the average maize yield for the region, excluding South Africa, being around one tonne per hectare (see figure below). More than 70% of the population, and the vast majority of the poor, are engaged in smallholder rain-fed agriculture and related activities. Supporting the smallholder farmer is therefore a way to drive economic growth in the region, and help the rural poor to combat poverty. Higher farm productivity and more diversified farm produce will reduce the need to purchase supplementary foodstuffs, provide a healthier diet and offer the possibility of selling surplus for cash. Conservation Agriculture (CA) has the potential to achieve these benefits. Conservation Agriculture is a way of managing agro-ecosystems to achieve higher, sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while enhancing the environment.