Failing to yield? Ploughs, Conservation Agriculture and the problem of agricultural intensification: An example from the Zambezi Valley, Zimbabwe

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Two agricultural intensification policies currently have a foothold in Southern Africa: intensification by plough-based, animal integrated practices and intensification by conservation agricultural practices including natural resource management. The former ideology originated from colonialism while the latter is currently promoted by nongovernmental organizations and development agencies. However, analysis on farmer knowledge relating to both of these practices reveals a predisposition towards extensification, or the farming on more land and using more resources to increase yields, instead of intensification. Other factors include limited cash, elevated risks, fluctuations in labor availability, and high input prices. Interestingly, the authors cite reliance on purely technical fixes, the disregarding of local or placed-based knowledge, and ultimately the lack of innovation on the side of researchers, development agencies, and policy-makers as the true reasons why Africa farmers are "failing to yield."


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Small holder enterprise, Conservation agriculture, Extensification, Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambezi valley, Alvord model, Farm/Enterprise Scale


Journal of Development Studies 48(3): 393-412