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Report, 2014

Review of interventions and technologies for sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production in sub-humid sub-Saharan Africa : with an assessment of effectiveness of selected options on differently endowed case study farms : a working paper

Dahlin, Sigrun; Rusinamhodzi, Leonard


Besides low soil fertility, climate variability has often been identified as the major constraint to agricultural productivity in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), with rainfall variability (both within and across seasons) being the most critical. Traditionally, reasonable yields could be achieved in spite of constant or smaller resource inputs by expanding the cropped area, but this is no longer a viable option. Crop production intensification is required to produce more food per unit of input and land, while maintaining or rebuilding soil fertility. However, most smallholder farmers lack access to resources such cash, fertiliser and technological expertise to address constraints caused by the biophysical environments in which they operate. The objective of this review was to collate and appraise the range of crop production intensification options that have been developed for smallholder farmers in SSA. A case study from central Mozambique was included to illustrate the impact and relevance of locally feasible options to farmers who own different resources. The study has revealed that sustainable intensification of crop production requires that multiple constraints are addressed simultaneously, in this case primarily soil fertility/plant nutrient supply and weed management. Success of crop intensification options will also depend on proper targeting to different farm types as well as field soil fertility gradients. Although smallholder farmers in SSA have limited assets, the case study revealed the occurrence of local opportunities to increase current crop productivity which in some cases do not need substantial capital inputs by the farmers, but more efficient use and targeting.


AfricaNUANCES; crop production intensification; farm management; farm typology; scenarios; smallholder farmers; soil fertility

Published in

SLU-Global Report
2014, number: 2014:5
ISBN: 978-91-576-9241-2
Publisher: SLU Global, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences