Extending Conservation to Farmlands in Zambia: Prescribed Practices and Reality

Orleans Mfune


This article examines the extension of environmental conservation measures to agricultural landscapes in a developing country context. It is concerned with how, conservation agriculture, as an agri-environmental measure aimed at improving farmers’ productivity while enhancing ecosystem services on farmland, is framed, translated into practice, adopted by smallholder farmers and how its practices fit with the livelihood realities of the farming households. Further, the paper is concerned with local level factors that limit the application of such measures in agricultural landscapes in Zambia. The data on which this paper is based was collected through a questionnaire survey, interviews, focus group discussions and farm site visits in Chongwe District of Central Zambia. The results of the study show that conservation agriculture in Zambia is framed in such a way that it is limited to a set of practices prescribed by some of the leading organisations involved in its deployment and ignores some local practices with potential to contribute to its objectives. Moreover, some of the prescribed conservation agricultural measures are not in harmony with the organisation of local livelihoods, negatively impact on household human capital (i.e. family labour demand), and ignore the bio-physical conditions of the areas where they are being promoted.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/jsd.v7n1p46

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