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The status of conservation agriculture in southern Africa: Challenges and opportunities for expansion

The status of conservation agriculture in southern Africa: Challenges and opportunities for expansion

Jul 2010

Regional Emergency Office for Southern Africa (REOSA) Technical Brief 3, July 2010

Achieving food security remains central to many national and regional programmes and policies in southern Africa. Although agricultural productivity has increased in some countries in the region, many countries remain net importers of food and are thus exposed to environmental and economic factors prevailing in food exporting countries. Average maize yields for the region have not changed much over the past 50 years. Poor farming methods, high levels of soil degradation and consequent desertification are some of the causes of low productivity. Droughts and/or prolonged dry spells often worsen the situation by resulting in severe crop damage or complete crop failures. With the majority of the population in southern Africa dependant on agriculture for their livelihoods, technological options that increase agricultural productivity and help to buffer farmers against the negative impacts of climate related and other constraints should be promoted. One such option is Conservation Agriculture (CA). Conservation Agriculture is a way of managing agro-ecosystems to achieve higher, sustained productivity, increased profits and food security while enhancing the environment.