During 30 January-03 February, members of CIMMYT Project 10, “Conservation agriculture for maize and wheat cropping systems,” held annual review and planning meetings in Harare, Zimbabwe.
“The work we reviewed furthers CIMMYT’s strong tradition of helping partners test and promote diverse resource-conserving practices with farmers, as well as backstopping those efforts with relevant research,” says John Dixon, Director of the Impacts Targeting and Assessment Unit, who presided over the meetings.
Scientists reporting on achievements, challenges, and plans included Pat Wall, who with the help of Christian Thierfelder is leading center projects on conservation agriculture in southern Africa; Paul Mapfumo and Mulugetta Mekuria, who work with partners through the Soil Fertility Consortium for Southern Africa (SOFECSA); Olaf Erenstein, who has coordinated surveys to assess the adoption and impacts of zero-tillage and other resource-conserving practices in South Asia; Mirjam Pulleman, who reported on her work and that of Bram Govaerts and Ken Sayre analyzing long-term conservation agriculture trials at El Batán and Ciudad Obregón; and Stephen Waddington, maize agronomist for many years in southern Africa and now leading CIMMYT efforts in Bangladesh.
Participants, in the company of extension and NGO partners, paid visits to farmers testing conservation agriculture practices in several villages of central and southern Zimbabwe. The region’s degraded and sandy soils and crop-and-animal farming systems are among the most challenging for efforts to keep protective, nourishing residues on the land, and work has been under way for only a few years—barely the blink of an eye for such initiatives. But farmer interest is evident and, particularly in Malawi, adoption of zero-tillage and residue retention for maize-based farming has begun.