Major factors limiting food production for smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa include the depletion of soil fertility, soil erosion and periodic droughts due to climate change. In Ethiopia, crop productivity is further constrained by a lack of quality inputs such as improved seeds, and high prices of chemical fertilizers, which has resulted in low levels of technology uptake. Poor transport infrastructure also makes it difficult and expensive to get goods to markets. This combination of factors has led to a predominance of subsistence agriculture and low yields and incomes for Ethiopian farmers.
To improve production and increase the food and income security of smallholder farmers across eastern and southern Africa, the Sustainable Intensification of Maize-Legume Cropping Systems for Food Security in Eastern and Southern Africa (SIMLESA) project is working with over 235,000 farming households to help them apply ‘conservation agriculture’ (CA)-based practices. These techniques, such as crop residue retention, minimum soil disturbance and intercropping (or rotation) of maize and legumes have been found to simultaneously boost crop yields whilst enhancing soil health by increasing moisture levels, and reducing soil degradation. Read more