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Open AccessArticle

Sustainable Intensification with Cereal-Legume Intercropping in Eastern and Southern Africa

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Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), West End Towers, Waiyaki Way, P.O. Box 66773 Westlands, Nairobi 00800, Kenya
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Islamic Development Bank, 8111 King Khalid St., Al Nuzlah Al Yamania Dist., Jeddah 22332-2444, Saudi Arabia
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Plot 1244, Ibex Hill, 10100 Lusaka, Zambia
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School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 4041, South Africa
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2891; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102891
Received: 28 March 2019 / Revised: 14 May 2019 / Accepted: 14 May 2019 / Published: 21 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Development of Tropical Agriculture)
Much research has been conducted on cereal-legume intercropping as a sustainable intensification (SI) practice in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA). However, the role of inorganic fertilizers in sustainably intensifying intercropping systems has not been systematically analyzed. Therefore, the objective of the present analysis was to assess the role of inorganic fertilizer use in cereal-pigeonpea (Cajanus cajan) intercropping in terms of SI indicators, namely, yield, production risks, input use efficiency, and economic returns. The data used for this analysis were gathered from over 900 on-farm trials across Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique. All SI indicators assessed showed that intercropping combined with application of small amounts of inorganic fertilizers is superior to unfertilized intercrops. Fertilizer application in the intercropping system improved cereal yields by 71–282% and pigeon pea yields by 32–449%, increased benefit–cost ratios by 10–40%, and reduced variability in cereal yields by 40–56% and pigeonpea yields by 5–52% compared with unfertilized intercrops. Improved yields and reduced variability imply lowering farmers’ risk exposure and improved credit rating, which could enhance access to farm inputs. We conclude that the strategic application of small amounts of inorganic fertilizers is essential for the productivity and economic sustainability of cereal-pigeonpea intercropping under smallholder farming in ESA. View Full-Text
Keywords: agronomic efficiency; climate-smart agriculture; mother-baby trial; nutrient mining; trade-off agronomic efficiency; climate-smart agriculture; mother-baby trial; nutrient mining; trade-off
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Kiwia, A.; Kimani, D.; Harawa, R.; Jama, B.; Sileshi, G.W. Sustainable Intensification with Cereal-Legume Intercropping in Eastern and Southern Africa. Sustainability 2019, 11, 2891.

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