Building Climate Resilient Livelihoods, Food Security and Nutrition through Conservation Agriculture
15 June 2022, Lusaka – Conservation agriculture (CA) has great potential to help build the resilience of smallholder farmers and increase agricultural productivity, production and nutrition, stakeholders stressed during the Panel Conservation Agriculture Regional Working Group (CARWG) recently concluded meeting, held in Lusaka, Zambia.
“Conservation agriculture can help address the high cost of fertilizers because it enables the efficient use of agricultural inputs, including fertilizers, but it also restores soil fertility. The Government of Zambia will continue to promote CA to increase the number of farmers and land under the approach,” said Reuben Mtolo Phiri, Minister of Agriculture of Zambia at the opening. of the event.
According to reports from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the current geopolitical trade tensions and instability resulting from the conflict between Ukraine and Russia are expected to exacerbate the limited availability and access agricultural inputs for smallholder farmers. This risks further increasing the number of people suffering from food and nutrition insecurity and loss of livelihoods in the sub-region.
FAO is supporting Southern African countries through the project “Strengthening Coordination, Scaling up and Governance of Conservation Agriculture in Southern Africa (SUCASA)” to scale up CA through capacity building of CA platforms, networks and partnerships at sub-regional and national levels.
“It becomes essential that we all work together to develop proven alternative, innovative and transformative production approaches that provide our smallholder farmers with the tenacity and resilience to maintain viable production and productivity despite the expected challenging socio-economic environment. “, Suze Percy Filippini, said the FAO representative in Zambia.
This year’s CARWG meeting brought together CA stakeholders and national CA working groups from Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Africa South, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Call for integration of CA into agricultural systems
The meeting was designed to share regional experiences, knowledge and information, best practices and strengthen partnerships, collaboration and innovation opportunities, and explore CA investment options to scale up CA .
This comes at a critical time when global food systems are facing pressure and Southern Africa is no exception. Currently, an estimated 47.6 million people in the sub-region are food insecure.
African Heads of State, through the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), have committed to 25 million African farmers adopting climate-resilient production systems by 2025 to protect their food and nutrition security and livelihoods.
“Now is the time for CA stakeholders to increase their networking and coordination so that CA is mainstreamed into national agricultural development programs,” said Saidi Mkomwa, Executive Director of the African Network. Soil Conservation and Chair of CARWG.
More resilient production thanks to AC
Morgan Manchishi is a medium-sized farmer from Chongwe District, Zambia. He grows corn and soy on 35 hectares of land. Since adopting CA practices in 2009, he has had better crop yields.
“Last season, we didn’t have good rains, but thanks to CA practices, we were still able to harvest. Yield was not affected,” Morgan told CARWG delegates.
The average agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers in Southern Africa has stagnated or even declined to less than 2 metric tons per hectare. A call for the transition from conventional agriculture to innovative, resilient and sustainable farming methods is essential to reverse this trend.
Stories like Morgan’s are used to share knowledge and information about the impact of CA, a climate-smart agriculture approach. This aims to get agricultural sector stakeholders and governments to prioritize scaling up CA in their food and agricultural production systems.
“The message must be placed in the right context. The AC technology ensures that even if you have insufficient rain, too much rain or enough, you are guaranteed to get a harvest. Countries should consider agricultural approaches that use fertilizers efficiently,” said Collins Nkatiko, Chief Executive of Conservation Farming Unit (CFU), Zambia.
FAO SFS – Resilience Team Leader
Communications Specialist, FAO SFS – Resilience Center