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A research agenda to explore the role of conservation agriculture in African smallholder farming systems

Giller K.E., Corbeels M., Nyamangara J., Triomphe B., Affholder F., Scopel E., Tittonell P.. 2011. Field Crops Research, 121 (3) : p. 468-472.

DOI: 10.1016/j.fcr.2011.04.010

Controversy surrounds the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA) in smallholder farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa. The introduction of CA is a profound change in farm management. Benefits in reduced erosion and stabilized crop production may be obtained, but technical performance at field level is but one of the determinants of adoption. For various reasons, all of the CA principles are not always fully implemented by farmers and results not as favourable as expected. As with other approaches to increasing agricultural productivity, the production constraints, farmers' objectives, and the expected benefits and costs of implementing CA are important aspects that influence adoption. At farm and village levels, trade-offs in the allocation of resources become important in determining how CA may fit into a given farming system. At a regional level, factors such as the market conditions, interactions among stakeholders and other institutional and political dimensions become important. At each level, opportunities or difficulties emerge that enhance or impede development, adaptation and adoption of CA. The ex-ante identification of situations for where CA (and which form of CA) is appropriate demands research from a multi-stakeholder, multi-level, and interdisciplinary perspective. Recommendations are made where research is required to address key knowledge gaps.

Mots-clés : agriculture alternative; petite exploitation agricole; non-travail du sol; mauvaise herbe; innovation; afrique; agriculture de conservation

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