Smallholder agriculture is a driver of economic development, particularly for the 75 percent of the world’s poor who live in rural areas. While productivity improvements are required to feed a growing population, agricultural production is straining natural resources. Climate change also threatens agricultural production and food security, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. In response, policymakers are encouraging the adoption of ‘climate smart‘ agricultural technologies, including conservation agriculture (CA).

Despite its potential, there is little rigorous evidence of impact of CA on smallholder farmers in Africa, especially at scale over multiple crops and cropping seasons. At the same time, there is growing evidence that—outside of project contexts—adoption rates are low. To fill this evidence gap, researchers from the International Crop Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the University of Illinois estimate the impacts of CA on yield and gross revenues of small farmers in Zimbabwe for a variety of crops over a four year period that included high, normal and low rainfall years.

This research was supported by ISPC-SPIA under the grant 'Strengthening Impact Assessment in the CGIAR (SIAC).'


SPIA. (2019). The Impacts of Conservation Agriculture on Resilience to Weather Shocks in Zimbabwe, Brief N. 77. Rome: Standing Panel on Impact Assessment.