Conservation Tillage Workshop
Animal Traction Network for Eastern and Southern Africa
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The workshop report
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Many smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa are faced with problems of recurrent droughts, loss of rain water to runoff, erosion and degradation of soils. Conservation farming is now seen by many as one of the solutions to these devastating problems. For optimum tillage, planting and crop management systems to be developed, promoted and subsequently adopted, it is essential for researchers, extensionists and development agents to understand the constraints within which individual farmers operate.
Studies on relationship between animal traction, environmental impact and the sustainability of production systems, are relatively recent. As a result, there is very little concrete information about environmental impact of using draft animal power. Animal traction as a power source, cannot be considered in isolation. It must be examined in the context of total farming systems, in order to assess its positive and negative environmental implications.
At an ATNESA workshop “Meeting the challenges of animal traction”, held in December 1995 in Kenya, the importance of using draft animal power for conservation tillage in semi-arid areas was stressed. It was therefore within ATNESA planned to organize a regional workshop on conservation tillage and environmental issues. Such a Workshop would look into various options available as well as dissemination strategies. It would launch a decade of promoting sustainable conservation techniques based on draft animal power and utilization.
Animal traction is being strongly addressed as an important technology for Eastern and Southern Africa. In Namibia, the Government has acknowledged the importance of this technology by setting up a National Draft Animal Power (DAP) Programme, to assist the smallholder farmers especially in the Northern Communal Areas. This region, by Namibian standards, receives the highest rainfall (500 mm to 700 mm) per annum.
The Northern region is further characterized by sandy soils with low organic matter and water retention capacity. For the past few years, tillage specialists in Eastern and Southern Africa and elsewhere have been addressing issues related to the above factors, to acquire technologies based on animal traction for smallholder farmers. One issue identified for this purpose has been “Conservation Tillage” (CONTIL) and how it affects the environment.
The objective of the workshop was to bring together farmers, national and regional specialists involved in research, development, training and extension in order to:
Share experiences regarding conservation tillage, rain water harvesting and environmental issues.
Review the research, training and extension messages regarding the use and management of draft animal power (DAP) technology in conservation tillage.
Develop a short and medium term conservation tillage programme for Namibia
Propose future regional activities on conservation tillage
Conservation tillage systems and soil-water management issues
Implements for conservation tillage in semi-arid areas
Rain water harvesting for field crop production
Animal traction and environmental sustainability
Technology transfer, adoption and extension strategies
Socio-economic and gender issues
Participation comprised persons involved in research, training, extension and rural development programmes related to smallholder agriculture. A total of 84 participants attended the workshop. These were from Namibia, regional ATNESA member and non-member countries, West Africa and Europe. In attendance were multi-disciplinary individuals and organizational representatives with diverse experiences, from various countries and regions. Some participants brought in equipment used in conservation tillage for demonstration on the farmers fields. The names and addresses of participants are listed in Annex Two of this Report.
dates and location
The workshop was hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development of Namibia. The planning and facilitation of the workshop was carried out in close cooperation with the ATNESA steering committee.
The workshop was held at Ngandu lodge in Rundu, Namibia from 5th - 10th October 1998.
This was the day when participants arrived. After registration, participants put up posters and exhibits. In the evening of this day there was the official opening of the workshop by the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development, Honourable S. Webster. The Governor of Rundu town also formally welcomed the participants.
The first half of the second day was occupied by presentations of keynote papers first by Mr. P.W. Misika who presented a country synthesis of Namibia; followed by Dr. P. Kaumbutho who presented an overview of conservation tillage practices in East and Southern Africa. Case studies and country reports were presented in the afternoon.
All participants went to attend field demonstrations on tillage systems and technologies on a farmers field at Muroro, fourty five kilometres East of Rundu. Later, three case study papers were presented on indigenous conservation tillage technologies and technology transfer techniques. In the afternoon there were plenary sessions, group discussions and presentations of group discussions.
The fourth day was spent on field visits to farmers. Participants were divided into eight groups and each group visited three farm villages to discuss with farmers their problems and possible solutions. Later the groups worked on and presented summaries of field findings and recommendations.
Participants were divided into small output oriented groups. These groups were involved in intensive discussions to make strategies and action plans for both National and Regional level activities. This was a most useful day of the workshop.
On the last day of the workshop there was a plenary session to make recommendations and follow-up actions. This was followed by a Workshop Synthesis presentation by Richard Fowler of South Africa. Thereafter there was workshop evaluation session by all participants. The workshop was officially closed by the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Rural Development Mr.P.W.Misika.
Most participants prepared papers and Case Studies on conservation tillage practices and environmental issues for sustainable agricultural production using DAP. These included research reports, indigenous practices such as rain water harvesting, experiences of extension programmes, and proposals for future and collaborative activities.
Twenty five papers were prepared for the workshop. Summaries of keynote papers, case studies and regional experiences presented are included in the workshop report. These and the rest of the papers submitted will be edited and produced in full as Workshop Proceedings.
Colourful and informative exhibits were put up by participants in the roundavel close to the conference room. These exhibits covered a wide range of topics from, various uses of animal power in agricultural production design and evaluation of equipment, field trials, manufacturing of farm equipment, indigenous soil conservation tillage techniques and gender issues. Some typical Programmes the posters presented were such as:
Smallholder Agricultural Mechanization (SAMeP) in Zambia.
Indigenous soil conservation tillage systems and risks of animal traction on land degradation in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Palabana Farm Power and Mechanisation Centre Zambia.
Northern Namibia rural development project evaluation of farm implements.
Soil and water conservation tillage trials conducted at the institute.
FAO case study on gender issues in agricultural engineering.
At the beginning of the workshop, participants were asked to write down on a card what they hoped would be an outcome of the workshop. The cards were put together, discussed and summarized. The following were the main expectations as expressed by the participants:
sustainable conservation tillage recommendations for Eastern and South
possibility of forming a regional network on conservation tillage
a feasible project plan for Namibia
animal traction training methodologies
practical viable suggestions to improve animal traction methods.
a database and guidelines on conservation tillage with animal traction in
sustainable water harvesting technologies for semi-arid areas.
There were a number of optional evening programmes that were arranged and executed during the conference week. These evening programmes provided further opportunities for networking among individuals. The most notable programmes were:
Conservation tillage technologies and practices used in Zimbabwe.
Socio-economic and gender issues in draft animal technology.
Animal traction resources in Ghana.
Regional conservation tillage network.
Use of handtools by woman farmers in sub-Saharan Africa
Several videos on animal traction.
The workshop provided an excellent forum for intensive interaction among the participants. Many formal and informal arrangements were independently made between participants throughout the week. These will result in further collaboration and exchange of information on conservation tillage with animal traction for soil-water management and environmental sustainability.
At the end of the workshop all participants were invited to give their views on all aspects of the programme and logistical arrangements by completing evaluation forms anonymously. The participants were very positive and gave the workshop a very high rating.
Many participants reported that after attending the workshop they were now more informed on problems affecting animal traction, soil fertility and management, environmental degradation and other multi-disciplinary factors. This means that the workshop enhanced understanding of issues on Conservation Tillage (CT) and increased motivation of participants. This is bound to benefit national and regional programmes working on conservation tillage with animal traction.
recommendations arose from the workshop deliberations. Proposals for a range of
follow-up activities were made. The most notable proposals were:
Proposals for Namibia
Based on the stakeholders input and experiences from the region and elsewhere, received at the workshop, the reporting team prepared a proposal for Conservation Tillage Work in Namibia. Stakeholders presented a wide range of issues which were compiled into four broad activities in the Proposal:
Promotion of Conservation tillage with animal traction
Improving soil fertility, crop and weed management
Crop / livestock integration for environmental sustainability
Promotion of entrepreneurship in animal traction, facilitation of credit and marketing.
At the end of the reporting week a draft proposal was presented to the MAWRD. The Proposal was complete with a Log Frame and Budget and was well received by the highly cooperative senior members of Namibian Government.
Regional Collaborative Activities
Other activities which were regional in nature, also emanating from the stakeholders input were mandated to ATNESA to take-up. These were as follows:
development of guidelines on conservation tillage with animal traction for the East and Southern Africa region.
development of a Database on conservation tillage systems.
enhancing networking for information sharing and advancement of Conservation Tillage practices in the region.
participate in the establishment of a regional network on conservation tillage in collaboration with other interested organizations while building on the CONTIL national efforts of countries such as Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Opportunities for Conservation Tillage with Animal Traction:
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