Innovative Crop-Livestock Integration Techniques

AgMIP South Eastern Africa Team member Dr. Sabine Homann-Kee Tui presents research from complementary study in ICRISAT article

By Jenna Behrendt

PHOTO 1 |The study found Macuna, a legume, to be very successful in assisting farmers in coping with climate change. Sourced from Patricia Masikati/ICRISAT.
On November 9th, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) published an article documenting a successful approach to reducing smallholder farmer vulnerability in Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe, frequent droughts, lack of market access and limited incomes present significant challenges for smallholder farmers. Starting in 2012, AgMIP South Eastern Africa Team Principal Investigator, Dr. Sabine Homann-Kee Tui, joined the Integrating Crops and Livestock for Improved Food Security and Livelihoods in Rural Zimbabwe (ZimCLIFS)’s pilot program in the Nkayi and Gwanda districts of Zimbabwe to introduce legume fodder crops to diversify smallholder farmers’ income. Project team members included: ICRISAT, the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center and Australia’s Commonwealth (CIMMYT), and the Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

Utilizing the Innovation Platform, an inclusive space for stakeholder engagement, smallholder farmers were able to help create innovative ways to diversify income sources through legume crops, like mucuna. After rotating mucuna with cereal crops, soil fertility and resistance to the Striga weed increased. Incorporating mucuna and other legumes into livestock feed not only increased livestock market value but also reduced the amount of time that farmers spent grazing livestock and resolved communal grazing conflicts. As a result of this pilot, the Zimbabwe government is now advocating for market-oriented crop-livestock production for smallholder farms.

Both the ZimCLIFS pilot study and the AgMIP regional research complemented one another in many ways. As Dr. Homann-Kee Tui noted, “ZimCLIFS increased credibility and legitimacy for the AgMIP simulations and stakeholder engagement process. Using AgMIP simulations and stakeholder engagement process increased our confidence in recommended interventions both now and in the future. The ability to simulate adoption across entire communities and forecast impacts under future conditions using AgMIP approaches were critical for increasing the pilot program’s reliability.”

The full article can be found here.