Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Econometric Analysis of the Factors That Affect Adoption of Conservation Farming Practices by Smallholder Farmers in Zambia

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Econometric Analysis of the Factors That Affect Adoption of Conservation Farming Practices by Smallholder Farmers in Zambia

Article excerpt


Despite the efforts to promote adoption of conservation farming (CF) by public and private organizations, the adoption rate among Zambian smallholder farm households has been low. This study used nationally representative data to identify the factors that affect adoption of CF by smallholder farm households in Zambia. Propensity Score Matching (PSM) was employed to help match the adopters and non-adopters of CF based on the distribution of their similar observable characteristics upon which a separate logistic model was applied. The logistic regression analysis showed that age of the household head; access to loans; labour availability; in-kind income and location of the households in agro-ecological regions (AER) I and II significantly increases the odds of adoption of CF. Based on these findings, it is recommended that promotion of adoption of CF practices should be directed towards smallholder farm households in AER I and II and those in remote areas which are less accessible by roads. This could be complemented by improving the road infrastructure so that smallholder farmers in such areas would not only have access to agricultural loans but also be in contact with relevant extension organizations that promote CF.

Keywords: adoption, conservation farming, smallholder farmers, logistic model, matched sample, Zambia

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Introduction and Background

Soil fertility depletion is one form of land degradation problems that has constrained the growth of the agricultural sector and its productivity in most developing countries. In an effort to reduce poverty levels and food insecurity resulting from such agricultural problems, many African governments have taken ardent interest in promoting conservation farming (CF) practices (Nyangena & Kohlin, 2008; Nyanga, 2012). CF is arguably considered the strategy suitable to maintain environmental sustainability and result into welfare gains in agriculture (Kassie et al., 2008). Giller et al., (2009) observed that CF is claimed to be the panacea to the declining agricultural productivity and soil degradation problems.

Typically, CF involves the practice of dry-season land preparation, minimum tillage, crop residue retention, and nitrogen-fixing crop rotations (Haggblade & Tembo, 2003; FAO, 2006; Hobbs, 2007; CFU, 2007; Simpson & Weamert, 2007). CF practices in Zambia date back to the late 1980s and early 1990s (Haggblade & Tembo, 2003). In the late 1990s and early 2000s, CF practices attracted the attention of a number of donor-financed non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Co-operative League of the United States of America (CLUSA). CLUSA required its farmers to plant in CF basins as a pre-requisite for receiving input credit. Dunavant Zambia Limited increased its commitment to CF in its farmer training and support programmes (Haggblade & Tembo, 2003). The major objective of these activities was to increase knowledge and adoption of CF practices by smallholder farmers in Zambia.

These efforts to promote CF captured interest from many stakeholders. For example, the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) has since the mid-1990s affirmed that it would promote CF practices to the farming population (Haggblade & Tembo, 2003). Other major stakeholder institutions joined in the efforts to promote CF among smallholder farmers. These were the Conservation Farming Unit (CFU) under the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU); the Department of Field Services in the Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operatives (MACO); the Soil Conservation and Agro-forestry Extension Project (SCAFE) and the Golden Valley Agricultural Trust (GART). These cooperating institutions ensured that smallholder farmers had access to extension services that incorporated CF practices. By mid-1990s, CF practices were known by a number of Zambian smallholder farmers (Haggblade & Tembo, 2003). In 1998, MACO formally embraced CF as an official policy in the agricultural sector (CFU, 2007). …

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