Conference Paper: Understanding compliance in programs promoting conservation agriculture

Groundnut farmer in Khulungira Village (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Groundnut farmer in Khulungira Village (Photo credit: ILRI/Mann)

Land degradation and soil erosion have emerged as serious challenges to smallholder farmers throughout Southern Africa. To combat these challenges, conservation agriculture (CA) is widely promoted as a “sustainable” package of agricultural practices. Despite the many potential benefits of CA, however, adoption remains low. Yet relatively little is known about the decisionmaking process in choosing to adopt CA. This article, written by IFPRI authors and collaborators, attempts to fill this important knowledge gap by studying CA adoption in southern Malawi. Unlike what is implicitly assumed when these packages of practices are introduced, farmers view adoption as a series of independent decisions, rather than a single decision. Yet the adoption decisions are not wholly independent. We find strong evidence of interrelated decisions, particularly among mulching crop residues and practicing zero tillage, suggesting that mulching residues and intercropping or rotating with legumes introduces a multiplier effect on the adoption of zero tillage.

This paper was prepared for presentation at the 2016 Agricultural & Applied Economics Association annual meeting, Boston, MA, July 31–August 2

By Patrick S. Ward, Andrew R. Bell, Klaus Droppelmann and Tim Benton, 2016

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