Crop production systems that require chemical fertilizers, pesticides, machinery for
tillage, and irrigation water are expensive. In countries such as India, they have started
to undermine the water security of future generations, contributing to soil and water
pollution particularly when synthetic pesticides are not used properly. It is true that
agriculture as practiced 100 years ago without modern inputs had lower productivity
than present systems of production. However, many premodern practices, such as the
use of organic manures to enhance soil fertility and of herbal extracts to protect crops,
can be made more efficient by the scientific knowledge that has been gained over
the past century, making crop production more sustainable while still achieving high
An innovative FAO's Project is promoting sustainable insects farming and harvesting for better food security and improved nutrition in LAO PDR. A recent FAO survey found out that over 95% of the population already consumes insects in a way or another. The insects high vitamin and protein content can help improving the country food and nutrition situation.
Progress H. Nyanga, Fred H. Johnsen, Thomson H. Kalinda
Conservation Agriculture (CA) is increasingly taking a central stage in agricultural policies and rural development among developing countries like Zambia. The challenge of gender gaps in agriculture has persisted despite efforts of gender mainstreaming. This paper assesses gender based impacts of conservation agriculture (CA) basins among smallholder farmers under the Conservation Agriculture Programme (CAP) in Zambia. Qualitative and quantitative approaches were used to collect data. Quantitative data was analysed mainly by descriptive statistics and qualitative data by thematic and content analysis. Results indicated that women and children experienced reduction in labour with respect to clearing of fields before tillage and during weeding where herbicides were used correctly. Improvement in household food security was also reported. Digging of CA basins was labour intensive and the chaka hoe was heavy for women. Labour requirement for women and children was more than for men during hand weeding. Herbicides have increased labour requirements for men because they are predominantly involved in spraying. Women needed to reduce their labour during weeding but feared that the use of herbicides would increase food insecurity during hunger peak period. This was because the use of herbicides is inconsistent with the practice of mixed cropping and selection of valuable wild vegetables that were important for food security. Results suggest that usage of herbicide such as atrazine could have health concerns that may affect women more than men. Use of herbicides raises questions as to what extent CA is environmentally sustainable. Interventions in CA need to be both gender sensitive and minimise tradeoffs between health concerns, socio-economic benefits and environmental sustainability.
Food insecurity is common place among 44% (six million) of Zambian population. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an option being promoted to address this problem. There is little evidence showing whether CA adopters are better than non-CA adopters in terms of food security. Using a four years panel data, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, informal discussions and personal observations, this study documents the differences in household food security between CA adopters and non-CA adopters in relation to pulses. Results showed that most common pulses grown among smallholder farmers were groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans and other beans. A tendency for the percentage of households growing pulses to be significantly higher among CA-adopters than among non-CA adopters was recorded. Cash income from pulses as percentage of total pulses production was significantly higher among CA adopters than among non-CA adopter in all the four years. Similar results were obtained for crop diversity and mean number of meals with pulses eaten in a day. Cases of women increasing their cash income from pulses because of CA practices were also reported. Focus group discussants explained that CA had reduced the intensity of food shortage during the peak hunger period because of early green harvest. With reference to pulses, it is concluded from this study that, among sampled smallholder farmers, CA adopters are relatively more food secure than non-CA adopters. Factors contributing to increased food security included farmer trainings in CA, increased access to planting seed, early land preparation and planting, and revitalisation of the practice of crop rotation.