The Conservation Farming Unit works to provide small and medium scale farmers with the environment, knowledge and practical experience to help them successfully adopt Conservation Farming and Conservation Agriculture practices. The main thrust of our work is hands-on extension training, using lead farmers, in their own farming communities.
The CFU also works to stimulate the demand for and supply of necessary CF tools, inputs and services, through relationships with tillage service providers and private sector agro input supply companies, both at the national level and the community shop level. CFU’s relationships with the private sector are also increasingly extending to link the technical and market opportunities available to the successful CF farmers.
By training farmers how to practice CF, we have provided them with the opportunity to hugely increase the yields that they can achieve; the capacity to improve their overall management practices and reduce input costs; to increase profits and to expand their area of production.
The result, as we have witnessed time and time again, is a massive change in each farming family’s fortunes. Farming becomes less about perilous subsistence, and more about profits which can either be invested back into making the farm even more successful, or into the capital assets and educational, nutritional and healthy well-being of the family. This increase in productivity is visibly apparent from the very first season of adoption, and is the main reason that farmers choose to adopt to CF.
In the last 2 years alone, we calculate that 54% number of the people we have trained have adopted our practices, and that by doing so they have increased their production value by $187 per hectare.
Read some of the farmer’s testimonials for yourself: FARMER TESTIMONIALS
Far less immediately apparent than the production benefits, but of real value are those benefits to the wider environment.
By being able to make land that already seems to be exhausted profitable again, less pressure is placed on clearing forest for new farming land. Valuable topsoil is buffered for longer, the soil profile retains or rebuilds valuable organic carbon matter better over time and by harvesting water in the basins and rip lines the crops themselves are better able to withstand the increasing climatic shocks experienced.
Farmers who practice CF are better able to stay food secure in uncertain seasons than those who do not.
The CFU achieves this spread through a network of 6 regional offices, 100 dedicated Field Staff and a cohort of nearly 3,000 Lead Farmers.
The CFU also works directly with in-country partners in Uganda (Rural Enterprise Development Services – REDS ); Kenya (Participatory Approaches for Integrated Development – PAIFD and Tanzania (CFU-Tanzania)and has over the years provided technical assistance to organizations in countries as diverse as Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, Mali, Ghana, Zimbabwe and Botswana.