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Environments 2015, 2(2), 139-166; doi:10.3390/environments2020139

Mechanization of Conservation Agriculture for Smallholders: Issues and Options for Sustainable Intensification

1
Agricultural Engineer, Engineering for Development, 3 Bourneside, Bedford, MK41 7EG, UK
2
Agricultural Engineer, Plant Production and Protection Division, FAO, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00153, Rome, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Yu-Pin Lin
Received: 3 March 2015 / Revised: 14 April 2015 / Accepted: 17 April 2015 / Published: 6 May 2015

Abstract

Conservation agriculture (CA) is an increasingly adopted production system to meet the goals of sustainable crop production intensification in feeding a growing world population whilst conserving natural resources. Mechanization (especially power units, seeders, rippers and sprayers) is a key input for CA and smallholder farmers often have difficulties in making the necessary investments. Donors may be able to provide mechanization inputs in the short term, but this is not a sustainable solution as a machinery input supply chain needs to be built up to continue availability after external interventions cease. Local manufacture should be supported, as was the case in Brazil, but this is a slow development process, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. A more immediate solution is to equip and train CA service provision entrepreneurs. With the right equipment, selected for the needs of their local clientele, and the right technical and business management training, such entrepreneurs can make a livelihood by supplying high quality CA and other mechanization services on a fully costed basis. Elements of the required training, based on extensive field experience, are provided. To catalyse the growth of CA providers’ business, the market can be stimulated for an initial period by issuing e-vouchers for services and inputs. View Full-Text
Keywords: CA mechanization; smallholders; supply chains; local manufacture; service provision; training needs; market stimulus CA mechanization; smallholders; supply chains; local manufacture; service provision; training needs; market stimulus
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Sims, B.; Kienzle, J. Mechanization of Conservation Agriculture for Smallholders: Issues and Options for Sustainable Intensification. Environments 2015, 2, 139-166.

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