Innovation: Conservation Agriculture In Africa: Analysing And Foreseeing Its Impact - Comprehending Its Adoption

Last update: 30.06.2013
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protection technologies, regional development, sustainable development, agriculture, information analysis, environmental protection, information and communication technology applications
Despite the growing efforts of research and extension programs on the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA), there has been limited success with adopting CA on smallholder farms in Africa. African farming systems are highly heterogeneous in terms of agro-ecological, socio-economical and cultural environments and opportunities for CA necessarily require local adaptation. Simulation models and modelling frameworks may be used to assist our ability to better understand and target innovative technologies such as CA within complex farming systems.

Over 30 months, the overall objective of this project is to assess and learn jointly from past and on-going CA experiences under which conditions and to what extent does CA strengthen the socio-economic position of landholders in Africa. For this purpose, a consortium comprising 10 highly experienced, complementary European, African and International partners has been assembled. It will develop an up-to-date knowledge database on CA practices in Africa. Biophysical, socioeconomic and conceptual models of innovation systems will be applied to a series of case studies across five regions in Africa to analyze the impact and adoption of CA at different scales (field, farm, region).

This will facilitate the identification of pathways to make models readily applicable for decision-makers in different African regions and under different conditions. It will allow to set the agenda for future research, development and promotion of CA in Africa. Dissemination, networking and training will make the project outcomes highly accessible to the principal stakeholders (researchers, public and private extension services, farmer organisations, national and regional policymakers, private sector).
The project effectively commenced on 2 March 2010 with the project inception workshop Setting the global stage held in Nairobi. This means that a delay of two months occurred with respect to the official commencement date of the project, i.e. 1 January 2011, as was stipulated in the grant agreement.

The coordination and (financial) management of the project are well set-up and functioning. The steering committee is put into operation and the advisory board is set-up but did not yet meet by the end of the reporting period, since this was planned after the second series of regional workshops. The first series of regional workshops took place in the five platform regions during September 2011 (month 9). The major outcomes of these workshops were that:

1. selected case studies for each regional platform were presented and strategies for data collection and entry for each case study were outlined
2. the first version of the database structure and software was tested and feedback was given to the database developers.

Major other project achievements so far were the following:
1. the database was online and ready for data entry
2. a thorough review of models and modelling tools for the assessment of impacts and adoption of CA at the three levels of the analytical framework (field, farm, region/district) was done
3. a qualitative expert assessment tool (QAToCA) was developed to assess the potential adoption of CA in the study areas and project regions
4. several dissemination activities took place at several international and regional meetings
5. the project objectives and first results were presented to a broad community of researchers, policy makers, government and decision makers across both the private and public sectors through an article in the International Innovation Report (research media) and through the CA2AFRICA newsletter that was circulated via the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) list server of conservation agriculture community of practice.
Global impact in Africa

Around two thirds of the African population depends on agriculture for its livelihood. The fate of agricultural production, therefore, directly affects economic growth, social improvement and trade in Africa. Africas population growth outpaces the growth rate in other areas of the world, while its agricultural land is increasingly becoming degraded. This puts pressure on the rural population, leading to migration to the cities, where problems of unemployment and the development of slum areas are increasing. Conservation agriculture specifically aims to address the problems of soil degradation and low productivity and it is increasingly seen as a promising alternative for coping with the need to increase food production on the basis of more sustainable farming practices. CA2AFRICA aims at contributing to the development of conservation agriculture in Africa, and thereby addressing the wider economic and social problems Africa is faced with.

Success with adopting CA on farms in Africa has been limited, despite the efforts by a growing number of research and extension programmes in Africa, supported by major international initiatives. The challenge lays in targeting CA solutions to the heterogeneity of African farming systems and integrating them into national and local stakeholder decision making; i.e. effectively making use of CA technologies while addressing the diversity of natural resources and livelihoods at different scales. Because little track record has been made in this area, new and innovative approaches must be explored to identify the most promising approaches for CA development in these complex conditions. Firstly, an inventory of CA experiences in Africa bridging different scales, i.e. spatial (farm to region) and temporal (short to long term); secondly, an analysis and evaluation of the experiences using modelling tools with active participation of stakeholders at national and local level straight from the
start of the project; and thirdly, sharing the lessons learnt to a broad audience of stakeholders. Technological tools and approaches have been often developed with ultimate stakeholders and clients in mind, but participation of these were usually only in the final stages of product development, if at all. By strengthening and sustaining a network of research and development professionals engaged in CA with close linkages to farmers and policy makers, this coordination and support action will contribute towards the successful implementation of tools and approaches of integrated assessment of innovative agricultural practices and bring about a change in CA adoption by farmers in Africa.

Specific project impacts

CA2AFRICA envisages the following specific impacts:

1. widespread availability and access through many participating and contributing stakeholders in Africa to the CA knowledge base, the lessons learnt from the project and the final proposal on research priorities
2. cross-country, cross-regional, intra-continental (within Africa) and international collaborations in CA research between a range of stakeholder institutions
3. methods and tools for assessment and evaluation of innovative agricultural practices and of development of research networks that can be adopted and adapted in other locations and contexts
4. improving European competitiveness, through the formation of Europe and Africa networks at the forefront of the development of and dissemination of innovative agricultural technologies
5. influencing the research agenda on sustainable development of agriculture in Africa for increasing its impact on CA adaptation and adoption and derived farmers livelihood.

List of websites:

http://www.CA2africa.eu.

Collaboration sought: N/A

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This innovation is the result of the project

Title: Conservation Agriculture In Africa: Analysing And Foreseeing Its Impact - Comprehending Its Adoption

Acronym: 
CA2AFRICA

Runtime: 
01.01.2010 to 31.12.2012

Status: 
completed project

Organisations and people involved in this eco-innovation.

Please click on an entry to view all contact details.

CENTRE DE COOPERATION INTERNATIONAL EN RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE POUR LE DEVELOPPEMENT

(France)

Role in project: Project Coordination

Contact person: Mr. NOLIN Jacques

Website: http://www.cirad.fr

Phone: +33-467615812

Contact

AFRICAN CONSERVATION TILLAGE NETWORK

(Kenya)

Contact person: Mr. APINA Thomas

Website: http://www.act-africa.org

Phone: +254-204444252

Contact

AGENCIA ESTATAL CONSEJO SUPERIOR DE INVESTIGACIONES CIENTIFICAS

Field: Scientific research and development (Spain)

Contact person: Mr. ABAD RUIZ Carlos Manuel

Website: http://www.csic.es

Phone: +34-915668852

Contact

CENTRO INTERNACIONAL DE AGRICULTURA TROPICAL

(Colombia)

Contact person: Dr. KOALA Saidou

Website: http://www.ciat.cgiar.org

Phone: +254-0207224755

Contact

CENTRO INTERNACIONAL DE MEJORAMIENTO DE MAIZ Y TRIGO INT

(Mexico)

Contact person: Dr. WALL Patrick C.

Website: http://www.cimmyt.org

Phone: +263-4369120/13

Contact

INSTITUT NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE AGRONOMIQUE

(Morroco)

Contact person: Prof. BADRAOUI Mohamed

Website: http://www.inra.org.ma

Phone: +212-37772642

Contact

INSTITUTE DE L'ENVIRONNEMENT ET DE RESEARCHES AGRICOLES

(Burkina Faso)

Contact person: Dr. TRAORE Karim

Website: http://www.inera.bf

Phone: +226-70384552

Contact

INTERNATIONAL CENTRE FOR AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH IN THE DRY AREAS

(Tunisia)

Contact person: Dr. EL MOURID Mohammed

Website: http://www.icarda.org

Phone: +216-71752134

Contact

LEIBNIZ-ZENTRUM FUER AGRARLANDSCHAFTSFORSCHUNG (ZALF) E.V.

(Germany)

Contact person: Dr. ZANDER Peter

Website: http://www.zalf.de

Phone: +49-3343282214

Contact

WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITEIT

(Netherlands)

Contact person: Dr. DE GRAAFF Jan

Website: http://www.wageningenuniversiteit.nl/uk/

Phone: +31-317482881

Contact