Conservation agriculture is a need-to-know in the increasing concerns about the change in climatic pattern. Also, the steady decrease in yield of major crops in the sub-region and is clear as a result of the global climate change.
For the farmer in Africa, who depends on rainfall for his crops that ultimately feed himself/herself, family and livestock. The continual effect means famine and worsening state of poverty.
FAO has outlined the benefits of Conservation agriculture, the future of food security. Below are details of their publication.
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Facing climate change and nine billion mouths to feed by 2050, Conservation Agriculture (CA) is key to the future of food security.
In the face of changing weather driven by climate change and the increasing demand for food, Conservation Agriculture (CA) aims to meet sustainable and profitable agriculture and improve farmers’ livelihoods. Here are five things you need to know.
1. Conservation Agriculture observes three main principles that you should remember
- Direct seeding involves growing crops without mechanical seedbed preparation and with minimal soil disturbance since the harvest of the previous crop.
- A permanent soil cover is important to: protect the soil against the deleterious effects of exposure to rain and the sun; provide the micro and macro organisms in the soil with a constant supply of “food”; and alter the micro-climate in the soil for optimal growth and development of soil organisms, including plant roots.
- The rotation of crops is not only necessary to offer a diverse “diet” to the soil microorganisms, but as they root at different soil depths, they are capable of exploring different soil layers for nutrients.
2. Conservation Agriculture helps fight climate change
The effects of climate change are being felt more and more, This does not mean we should give up on efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). With the increasing soil organic matter, the soils under Conservation Agriculture can retain carbon from carbon dioxide. It can store it safely for long periods of time.
The consumption of fossil fuel for agricultural production is also much reduced under CA and burning of crop residues is completely eliminated, which also reduces GHG release.
Read also: Building a Food Secure World
3. Conservation Agriculture provides small-scale farmers with diversification opportunities
CA has direct impacts which have the potential to turn around the daily and seasonal calendar and in the long-term. It can also change the rhythm of farmers’ family because of the reduced labour requirements for tillage, land preparation and weeding. More time availability offers real opportunities for diversification options such as poultry farming or on-farm sales of produce, or other off-farm small enterprise developments.
FAO argues that we support the smallholder to scale-up production. This support should include legal land tenure, global policies for a level playing field, access to capital and markets. Besides, structured training, and investment in technology and infrastructure.
4. Conservation Agriculture helps lower farm power and reduces labour
One of the most noticeable changes for the farmer is the reduced need for farm power and labour. CA helps lower the overall need for power and energy for field production by up to 60 % compared to conventional farming.
This is due to, the elimination of most power-intensive operations, such as tillage. Additionally, equipment investment, particularly the number and size of tractors, is much reduced. This effect applies equally to small-scale farmers using only hand labour or animal traction.
Read also: How to Increase yields and improve farmlands
5. Everyone has a role to play
Maintaining the momentum of growth in agricultural productivity will remain crucial in the coming decades. The production of basic staple foods needs to increase by 60 percent if it is to meet expected demand growth.
Food is one of our most basic needs, so be it reducing food loss and waste, eating lower-impact diets or investing in sustainable agriculture such as conservation agriculture – countries, companies, and consumers can make a difference.
Dr Kofi Boa has been, over the years, promoting conservation agriculture at the Centre for No-Till Agriculture at Amanchia.