In recent years, the spread of conservation agriculture (CA) has revealed to be a sustainable way to intensify crop production and sustain rural livelihoods in several African countries. Indeed, the potential benefits associated with the use of conservation farming practices are many. Long-term yield increase and output stability can be achieved while at the same time stopping and reversing land degradation. Larger outputs are often obtained by employing relatively fewer inputs, thereby reducing costs. Compared to conventional tillage methods, CA thus leads to higher net profitability, greater environmental sustainability and – especially important in Africa – higher food security. Furthermore, conservation farming techniques which rationalize the use of labour are particularly helpful in those rural areas where migration and health emergencies have reduced the labour supply and contributed to the increasing “feminization” of the agricultural sector (a comprehensive discussion of the advantages and disadvantages associated with the use of conservation agriculture in Africa is provided in Annex I).
Laura Silici, 2010.Conservation Agriculture and Sustainable Crop Intensification in Lesotho.