Impact of conservation farming on smallholder farm household incomes in Zambia: Evidence using an endogenous switching regression model

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Ng'ombe, John N.
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The development and promotion of conservation farming (CF) practices has been an important component of many rural development projects in Africa and their adoption has varied across the continent. This study focuses on determining the impact of CF and its main components: crop rotation, residue retention and minimum tillage. It uses 2008 supplemental survey data collected by Food Security Research Project (FSRP)/Central Statistical Office (CSO)/Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MACO). The study utilizes propensity score matching methods and a simultaneous equations model with endogenous switching to account for the heterogeneity in the decision to adopt CF practices and for unobservable characteristics of smallholder farmers and their farms. Propensity score matching method was used so as to obtain matched observations of adopters and non-adopters based on their observable characteristics.Results suggest that adopters of CF realized more income per hectare than they would have had they not adopted the technology. However,non-adopters realized lower household income per hectare than they would have had they decided not to adopt CF. In case of crop rotation, smallholder farm households that adopted crop rotation actually realized more household income per hectare than they would have if they did not adopt while non-adopters of crop rotation would be better off if they adopted crop rotation than they are. Smallholder farm households that adopted residue retention realized more household income per hectare than they would if they did not adopt residue retention. But non-adopters of residue retention would be worse off had they adopted. This is attributed to unobserved heterogeneity that may affect adoption of these practices. For minimum tillage, it is found that both its adopters and non-adopters would respectively have realized more household income per hectare had both groups decided not to adopt it. A comparison of the impacts of CF practices showed that crop rotation is associated with more household income per hectare than other practices while minimum tillage decreases household incomes for smallholder farm households in Zambia. One reason attributed to the negative impact of minimum tillage is that majority of households that adopted it are located in agro-ecological region III, that receives excessive amounts of rainfall and thus minimum tillage is not recommended in the area. The study recommends increased efforts to promote CF practices; crop rotation and residue retention in Zambia. The study also suggests that promotion of minimum tillage in Zambia should be increased in agro-ecological regions I and II where it is suitable
Sustainable Agriculture-Zambia , Consevation Farming.