Socioeconomic and institutional factors influencing adoption of conservation farming by vulnerable households in Zimbabwe
Since 2004, there has been a series of initiatives in Zimbabwe to promote conservation agriculture (CA) through various donor-funded relief initiatives with the aim of improving crop production among vulnerable farmers. In April 2007, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) implemented a survey to collect data from 12 districts and 232 households that had been practicing hand hoe-based conservation farming (CF) for at least one prior season with extension and input support from non-governmental organizations. This study was undertaken to better understand the household and institutional factors that influence CF adoption patterns among the beneficiaries of these relief initiatives. Results from the study show that institutional support and agro-ecological location have strong statistical influence on the adoption intensity of different CF components. Besides the practice of preparing basins, at least 70% of the households had also adopted the following components of CF: manure application in the planting basin, topdressing with nitrogen fertilizer at the 5-6 leaf stage of the cereal crop, and timely post-planting weeding. Household labor availability and impacts of HIV/AIDS did not limit the intensity of adoption of CF. An enterprise budget analysis proved that because of the significant yield gains realized with CF, the technology is more viable than conventional tillage practices of broadcasting manure and overall spring tillage on the day of planting. The increased profitability in adopting CF was also reflected in steady increases in the area each household committed to CF from an average area of 1450Â m2 in 2004 to more than 2000Â m2 in 2007.
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