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Conservation agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa

Corbeels M., Thierfelder C., Rusinamhodzi L.. 2015. In : Farooq Muhammad (ed.), Siddique Kadambot H.M. (ed.). Conservation agriculture. Cham : Springer, p. 443-476.

Specific practices of conservation agriculture (CA) in sub-Saharan Africa are diverse and vary according to local farming conditions. However, despite more than two decades of investment in its development and dissemination, adoption of CA is low. Crop responses to CA are highly variable, and not always positive, which is an important hindrance for adoption, especially for resource-poor farmers who need immediate returns with their investments in CA in order to be able to feed their families. In contrast with commercial farms such as in Brazil, reduced costs with CA on smallholder farms in sub-Saharan Africa are not always observed. Another major challenge with the practice of CA is the use of crop residues for mulching since crop residues are a major source of feed for livestock, especially in semiarid regions, where biomass production is limited and livestock plays a crucial role in farming systems. Studies indicate that the three principles of CA, including mulching, are needed to increase crop yields compared with conventional tillage (CT)-based practices. Among the three principles of CA, mulching is certainly the one that is least observed in past and current cropping practices in Africa. CA has a potential to improve the soil water balance and increase soil fertility, and it is undoubtedly a cropping practice that can result in substantial benefits for certain farmers in Africa. The question is when and how it is the best approach for smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. In general, CA is more likely to be attractive for farmers with a strategy of intensification than for farmers who struggle to produce food for their family. The latter too often face multiple constraints that limit the possibilities to engage in technological innovations. Some farmers may not be interested in new technologies because they earn their income from off-farm activities. Good markets of input supply and sale of extra produce are a prerequisite condition for adoption of CA as they are for any other new agricultural technology that aims at intensification. In sub-Saharan Africa, there is certainly a need to better target CA to potential end users and adapt the CA practices to their local circumstances and specific farming contexts. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : analyse économique; utilisation; résidu de récolte; plante de culture; désherbage; protection des plantes; biologie du sol; propriété physicochimique du sol; rendement des cultures; histoire; adoption de l'innovation; changement technologique; petite exploitation agricole; non-travail du sol; paillage; système de culture; agriculture alternative; afrique au sud du sahara; agriculture de conservation

Thématique : Systèmes et modes de culture; Façons culturales; Economie familiale et artisanale; Economie et politique du développement; Biologie du sol; Chimie et physique du sol; Agriculture - Considérations générales; Economie de la production; Protection des végétaux : considérations générales

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