Impact of conservation agriculture on maize productivity and income among smallholder farmers in selected provinces of Zambia

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Mwiinga, Eugine
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The University of Zambia
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for majority smallholder farm households in Zambia, which constitutes more than 75% of the population. However, climate change continues to pose a serious threat to agricultural productivity due to its adverse effects that cause soil infertility and reduced crop productivity. In order to address this problem, the Government of the Republic of Zambia introduced Conservation Agriculture (CA) in the 1990’s as a mitigation and adaption measure. CA has been practiced for over two decades, but its impact has not been investigated conclusively probably the evaluation studies used cross sectional surveys, small sample sizes or the data lacked detail. Furthermore, very little work has been done to evaluate the impact of CA on maize productivity and income among smallholder farmers in dominant maize growing provinces of Zambia particularly; Southern, Lusaka, Central and Eastern that are located in AER I and II. Hence, this study sought to bridge this research gap by using the Rural Agricultural Livelihood Surveys 2012 (RALS 2012) data that contains a comprehensive description of Zambia’s small and medium scale farming. This objective was achieved by utilizing a probit econometric model and the Propensity Score Matching (PSM) technique. The matching process using the kernel and nearest neighbour matching algorithms was also performed. Results of the study reveal that variables such as livestock assets, adult equivalent, access to loans/credit, CA advice, ZNFU/CFU extension services, Cooperatives/Farmer group extension services and farm location (Eastern, Central and Lusaka province) were positively correlation with adoption of CA adoption. The study found that practicing CA was significantly associated with improvements in maize productivity and income and smallholder maize farmers that adopted CA increased maize productivity and income by 41.8% to 43.9% and 20.7% to 22.1% respectively. The adoption of CA in Zambia can be enhanced much more through an effective and efficient extension service delivery system. This can be achieved by strengthening collaboration between stakeholders including public/private institutions whose strategic support and services have shown a significant drive towards the enhancement of CA adoption. Keywords: Conservation Agriculture, Impact, Crop Productivity, Propensity Score Matching, Average Treatment on the Treated, Zambia.
Conservation agriculture. , Sustainable agriculture--Zambia--Southern Province. , Agricultural conservation--Zambia--Southern Province.