Tuesday, 11 July 2006 - 11:05 AM

Drought Mitigation through Micro-Level Conservation Practices by Smallholder Farmers in Zambia.

David Kaumba Samazaka and Simunji Simunji. Golden Valley Agricultural Research Trust, Cotton Trust, Mazabuka, Zambia

Farming in Zambia's southern half – formerly the country's ‘breadbasket', is persistently being faced with crop failure due to a spate of agricultural droughts that have become endemic to most parts of Southern Africa. Micro-level practices that enable efficient and effective capture and ultimate utilization of both rainwater and nutrients are emerging as viable technology options with over 100,000 smallholders and resource limited farmers practicing and adapting. Service delivery and change agents including governmental organizations have been at the core of the development and promotion of conservation tillage practices at two levels of the ‘farming ladder'- thus hand hoe planting basins and ox-drawn ripper furrow planting. Notwithstanding the positive trends in the adaptation of the two conservation tillage micro-site technologies displayed so far, a number of hurdles still linger. The burden of weeds due to reduced tillage around the micro-sites has not been fully resolved. Additionally, unsustainable land husbandry practices over the years have depleted the soils greatly, hence, retarding the pace to success. The unavailability and even inaccessibility of raw materials for the manufacture of ripping equipment is another impediment to technology upsacling. However, a number of opportunities are available for both commercialization and linking up of the technologies to markets.

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