Food Security, Conservation Agriculture and Pulses: Evidence from Smallholder Farmers in Zambia
- Progress Nyanga
AbstractFood insecurity is common place among 44% (six million) of Zambian population. Conservation agriculture (CA) is an option being promoted to address this problem. There is little evidence showing whether CA adopters are better than non-CA adopters in terms of food security. Using a four years panel data, focus group discussions, key informant interviews, informal discussions and personal observations, this study documents the differences in household food security between CA adopters and non-CA adopters in relation to pulses. Results showed that most common pulses grown among smallholder farmers were groundnuts, cowpeas, soya beans and other beans. A tendency for the percentage of households growing pulses to be significantly higher among CA-adopters than among non-CA adopters was recorded. Cash income from pulses as percentage of total pulses production was significantly higher among CA adopters than among non-CA adopter in all the four years. Similar results were obtained for crop diversity and mean number of meals with pulses eaten in a day. Cases of women increasing their cash income from pulses because of CA practices were also reported. Focus group discussants explained that CA had reduced the intensity of food shortage during the peak hunger period because of early green harvest. With reference to pulses, it is concluded from this study that, among sampled smallholder farmers, CA adopters are relatively more food secure than non-CA adopters. Factors contributing to increased food security included farmer trainings in CA, increased access to planting seed, early land preparation and planting, and revitalisation of the practice of crop rotation.
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- Bella DongEditorial Assistant