Environmental Management

, Volume 55, Issue 2, pp 330–346 | Cite as

Identifying Potential Recommendation Domains for Conservation Agriculture in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Malawi

  • Kindie Tesfaye
  • Moti Jaleta
  • Pradyot Jena
  • Munyaradzi Mutenje


Conservation agriculture (CA) is being promoted as an option for reducing soil degradation, conserving water, enhancing crop productivity, and maintaining yield stability. However, CA is a knowledge- and technology-intensive practice, and may not be feasible or may not perform better than conventional agriculture under all conditions and farming systems. Using high resolution (≈1 km2) biophysical and socioeconomic geospatial data, this study identified potential recommendation domains (RDs) for CA in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Malawi. The biophysical variables used were soil texture, surface slope, and rainfall while the socioeconomic variables were market access and human and livestock population densities. Based on feasibility and comparative performance of CA over conventional agriculture, the biophysical and socioeconomic factors were first used to classify cultivated areas into three biophysical and three socioeconomic potential domains, respectively. Combinations of biophysical and socioeconomic domains were then used to develop potential RDs for CA based on adoption potential within the cultivated areas. About 39, 12, and 5 % of the cultivated areas showed high biophysical and socioeconomic potential while 50, 39, and 21 % of the cultivated areas showed high biophysical and medium socioeconomic potential for CA in Malawi, Kenya, and Ethiopia, respectively. The results indicate considerable acreages of land with high CA adoption potential in the mixed crop–livestock systems of the studied countries. However, there are large differences among countries depending on biophysical and socio-economic conditions. The information generated in this study could be used for targeting CA and prioritizing CA-related agricultural research and investment priorities in the three countries.


Conservation agriculture Targeting Recommendation domain Ethiopia Kenya Malawi 



The authors acknowledge financial support from EU-IFAD under the Conservation Agriculture and Smallholder Farmers in Eastern and Southern Africa (CASFESA) project (Grant No. COFIN-ECG-54-CIMMYT) and the Malawi Natural Resources Department for providing some biophysical data. Special support from Fite Getaneh and Alemu Tolemariam in validation survey work on the ground in Ethiopia is highly appreciated. We also thank the anonymous reviewers for their critical comments and constructive suggestions that helped improve the quality of the paper.

Supplementary material

267_2014_386_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 14 kb). Biophysical and socioeconomic conditions that influence the likelihood of CA adoption in Africa


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kindie Tesfaye
    • 1
  • Moti Jaleta
    • 1
  • Pradyot Jena
    • 2
  • Munyaradzi Mutenje
    • 3
  1. 1.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)Addis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)NairobiKenya
  3. 3.International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)HarareZimbabwe

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