MAIZE TRUST: Conservation Agriculture Smallholder Farmer Innovation Programme

Quantitative research support to the Conservation Agriculture Smallholder Farmer Innovation Programme, KwaZulu-Natal.

The Maize Trust-funded CA Smallholder Farmer Innovation Programme (SFIP) in South Africa, as conceptualized and implemented through MDF, has pioneered the use of agricultural innovation systems as a methodological approach for the promotion of an appropriate smallholder CA farming system, as well as awareness raising and adaptive research into specific elements of this system.

The programme was initially housed at GrainSA and is presently managed through Asset Research.

MDF has worked with smallholder farmers in CA learning groups, who implement CA as farmer led trials and expand their implementation into their whole fields over time. Around 480 smallholders across 43 villages in KwaZulu-Natal (Bergville, SKZN and Midlands) have been implementing CA for a period of between one to eight years, because of The Maize Trust SFIP support. Processes explored are working in village based learning groups and farmer level experimentation to include practices such as use of different CA planters, reduced external input and organic systems, close spacing, intercropping crop rotation, multi-species cover crops, fodder production and supplementation, and livestock integration.