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Agro-ecology based aggradation-conservation Agriculture: Targeting innovations to combat soil degradation and food insecurity in semi-arid Africa    

Geographic areas of focus: Semiarid areas of East (Kenya, Tanzania), West (Mali, Burkina Faso) and Southern (Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar) Africa

The overall objective is to reduce the vulnerability of smallholder farmers to climatic variability by building capacity through co-innovation platforms to design, evaluate and implement targeted technological options for and mechanisms to promote adoption of conservation agriculture (CA) based on agro ecology principles to combat land degradation and food insecurity in semi-arid regions of Africa. This will be done by fulfilling the following specific objectives:

  1. To adapt CA systems to different kinds of smallholder African farmers by studying which principles of CA, and under which conditions contribute to the effects sought in terms of food production and land rehabilitation in the face of climatic variability;
  2. To involve farmers and research in co-innovation platforms to promote the adaptation/appropriation of technologies by local communities;
  3. To assess the social and economic viability and tradeoffs of implementing CA at farm and village scales, and across scenarios, to inform policies;
  4. To promote dissemination of targeted CA alternatives and approaches through divulgation, training and capacity development;

To reinforce existing knowledge networks on CA, building their institutional capacities and establishing sustainable South-South (e.g., ACT-Embrapa Brazil) and North-South research partnerships

Target group: Local research and extension institutions designing/promoting CA in semi-arid regions of Africa, organised farmers groups (learning centres, farmer field schools) and local NGO’s implementing/practicing CA in the target regions; policy makers at national level and policy implementers at district level.

Final beneficiaries: Smallholder farmers in semi-arid areas of the countries targeted and in regions of comparable agro ecology, demography and market access

Results: Adapted and farmer-valued CA alternatives to (i) increase water productivity, (ii) mitigate climatic risks, (iii) restore and maintain soil fertility, and (iv) provide agroecological functions; Increased use efficiency of natural and socio-economic resources; Tradeoffs for CA implementation evaluated and policy advice derived; Sustainable co-innovation platforms established; Results and lessons disseminated; CA knowledge networks reinforced; South-South and North-South partnerships created; Recommendations on enabling policies.

Main activities: On-station and on-farm field experimentation; Gender-sensitive characterisation of conditions for implementing CA technologies and gender mainstreaming of all activities; Action research with rural communities (co-innovation); Participatory & model-based scenario analysis and tradeoffs evaluation; Training & capacity development; Dissemination; Policy analysis and design.