Co?designing the transitions towards integrated market oriented mixed farming systems in semi?arid Zimbabwe uri icon

abstract

  • In semi?arid Zimbabwe, multiple constraints impact maize?based crop?livestock systems creating apoverty trap. These barriers include low soil fertility, variable climates, weak knowledge support,and lack of markets. Conventional technical options are insufficient to improve smallholderlivelihoods. Given the diversity in resource endowments and livelihood sources identifyingintensification options that fit circumstances remains problematic. In this paper we demonstrateco?designing approaches (i.e. with multiple stakeholders) for two sites i.e. Gwanda and Nkayidistricts, of contrasting agro?ecological potential. We engaged low, medium and high resourceendowed farmers to (i) co?design plausible improved scenarios that included incremental changes? testing currently promoted technologies for crop?livestock intensification and drastic change ?assuming that removing barriers will encourage investments towards resilient and profitablefarming; and (ii) We quantified benefits and trade offs from alternative integrated actions using anintegrated whole farm modelling approach (APSFArm?LivSim?TOAMD). At both sites incrementalchange options improved food security through better?integrated cereal?legume?livestocksystems; income effects were however limited. Drastic change options achieved more substantialimprovements in productivity, food and income generation: farmers set more land in use, withmore diversified forage, food and cash crops and adapted cultivars, organic and mineral fertilizerapplication, small?scale mechanization for ploughing and product processing and improvedlivestock management. Packages tailored to farm situations had larger benefits on food securityand income than blanket applications. Recommendations that take into account the socioeconomiccontext and policies are key and need to be communicated in more effective ways forenabling more sustainable futures for smallholders in Zimbabwe

publication date

  • 2015