A First Look at Maize Markets and Demographics among Conservation Agriculture Adopters and Non Adopters in Mozambique
W.E. McNair; D.M. Lambert; M.D. Wilcox; N. Eash; C. Thierfelder
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Description: Mozambique has 1.4 million hectares of arable land suitable for producing maize. Average yields are low (920 kg/ha in 2008 (FAOSTAT). The livelihoods of most families depend on small-scale agriculture. Maize is the main staple and accounts for most of the population’s caloric intake.
On average smallholder farmers are 2.4 hectares in area. Most fields are prepared using hoes. Crop residues are commonly burned to clear land. Despite government efforts to promote conservation measures such as planting maize on ridges perpendicular to slopes, soil erosion remains a problem. Erosion of Mozambique’s arable lands will likely accelerate as production intensifies to meet growing food demand.
Ongoing efforts by The International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT), the USAID, and other non-government agencies focus on adapting and smallholder farmer adoption of Conservation Agriculture (CA) technologies to agroecological environments in Mozambique to meet demand for food in a sustainable way.
The main tenets of Conservation Agriculture (CA) are: (1) minimizing soil disturbance, (2) maintaining residue on soil surface, and (3) mixing/rotating crops. While agronomic findings clearly suggest that yields are higher and soil quality is improved when fields are managed using CA, we are just beginning to understand how better yields translate into higher incomes, access to markets, and the differential impacts these factors have on gender equity and household well-being.