Environmental Management

, Volume 53, Issue 3, pp 620–635 | Cite as

Adoption Potential of Conservation Agriculture Practices in Sub-Saharan Africa: Results from Five Case Studies

  • Hycenth Tim NdahEmail author
  • Johannes Schuler
  • Sandra Uthes
  • Peter Zander
  • Karim Traore
  • Mphatso-S Gama
  • Isaiah Nyagumbo
  • Bernard Triomphe
  • Stefan Sieber
  • Marc Corbeels


Despite the reported benefits of conservation agriculture (CA), its wider up-scaling in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has remained fairly limited. This paper shows how a newly developed qualitative expert assessment approach for CA adoption (QAToCA) was applied to determine its adoption potential in SSA. CA adoption potential is not a predictor of observed adoption rates. Instead, our aim was to systematically check relevant factors that may be influencing its adoption. QAToCA delivers an assessment of how suitable conditions “and thus the likelihood for CA adoption” are. Results show that the high CA adoption potentials exhibited by the Malawi and Zambia case relate mostly to positive institutional factors. On the other hand, the low adoption potential of the Zimbabwe case, in spite of observed higher estimates, is attributed mainly to unstable and less secured market conditions for CA. In the case of Southern Burkina Faso, the potential for CA adoption is determined to be high, and this assessment deviates from lower observed figures. This is attributed mainly to strong competition of CA and livestock for residues in this region. Lastly, the high adoption potential found in Northern Burkina Faso is explained mainly by the fact that farmers here have no alternative other than to adopt the locally adapted CA system—Zaï farming. Results of this assessment should help promoters of CA in the given regions to reflect on their activities and to eventually adjust or redesign them based on a more explicit understanding of where problems and opportunities are found.


Conservation agriculture Adoption potential Malawi Zimbabwe Burkina Faso Zambia 



This work was carried out as part of the European Union (EU) funded project CA in AFRICA: Analyzing and Foreseeing its Impact—Comprehending its Adoption (CA2Africa, The opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the authors. The authors wish to thank the CA2Africa consortium for helpful comments, provision of data and additional assistance. Our special appreciation to Peter Aagaard of CFU Zambia and his team for the informational and logistical support during the research stay in Zambia.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hycenth Tim Ndah
    • 1
    Email author
  • Johannes Schuler
    • 1
  • Sandra Uthes
    • 1
  • Peter Zander
    • 1
  • Karim Traore
    • 1
    • 3
  • Mphatso-S Gama
    • 1
    • 2
  • Isaiah Nyagumbo
    • 1
    • 4
  • Bernard Triomphe
    • 1
    • 6
  • Stefan Sieber
    • 1
  • Marc Corbeels
    • 1
    • 5
  1. 1.Leibniz-Centre for Agricultural Landscape ResearchInstitute of Socio-EconomicsMünchebergGermany
  2. 2.Ministry of Agriculture and Food SecurityLiwondeMalawi
  3. 3.Institut de l’Environnement et de Recherches Agricoles (INERA)OuagadougouBurkina Faso
  4. 4.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT)HarareZimbabwe
  5. 5.Research Unit Annual Cropping SystemsCentre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)Montpellier Cedex 5France
  6. 6.Joint Research Unit InnovationCentre de Coopération Internationale en Recherche Agronomique pour le Développement (CIRAD)Montpellier Cedex 5France

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