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El Niño: SADC Discusses Conservation Agriculture

El Niño: SADC Discusses Conservation Agriculture

Representatives of the Regional Working Group on Conservation Agriculture (CA) from southern African countries are meeting in Maputo from 15 to 17 August for an annual dialogue to enhance knowledge on the practice in the region.

According to a statement by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), made public recently, the adoption of Conservation Agriculture is seen as crucial for the region, as El Niño forecasts show a high probability of drought in southern Africa, a problem that will influence production levels in the 2023/24 season.

“Drought could further aggravate the fragile food and nutrition security situation in some countries,” FAO warns, recalling that the CAADP-Malabo (2014) declaration by African heads of state recognised the need to increase the climate resilience of smallholder farmers, setting a target of 25 million hectares on climate resilient practices by the year 2025.

“To this end, Conservation Agriculture, which is a proven entry point, has been promoted for scaling up the adoption of Climate Sensitive Agricultural Practices,” the note said, emphasising that its role in mitigating crop water stress in the field is critical in drought situations. Their adoption, however, by smallholder farmers in the sub-region remains low.

The document points out that several factors such as inadequate understanding of the concept, deficit in training of extension agents and farmers, lack of appropriate equipment and inputs as well as poor integration of Conservation Agriculture production into value chains negatively influence its expansion.

“In this regard, the Conservation Agriculture Regional Working Group (CARWG) and other relevant actors will, in Maputo, share experiences, knowledge, best practices and science-based innovations to increase production, productivity and climate resilience,” reads the note.

The dialogue is organised by FAO, in coordination with the Government of Mozambique and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), through the regional sub-programme “Strengthening, Coordination, Scaling Up and Governance of Conservation Agriculture in Southern Africa (SUCASA)”.

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