The USAID Africa Bureau is providing support to Africa RISING (funded by the USAID Bureau for Food Security) for a study that advances the understanding of the landscape-level implications of farm-level sustainable intensification activities in Zambia. It will also inform the design of future integrated projects that address food security, climate change and biodiversity issues.
The objective of this study is to provide an evidence base for the linkages between field- and farm-scale sustainable intensification interventions and climate change mitigation and biodiversity conservation in Zambia. The pilot site for the study will be Eastern and Lusaka Provinces in Zambia.
Although the study is focused on agricultural-environmental linkages in Zambia, it will hopefully provide lessons that are relevant in many other countries about how to effectively build integrated programs that build resilient households, communities, and agricultural landscapes, while also contributing to climate change mitigation and the protection of biodiversity. The study will be implemented by Michigan State University researchers, under the leadership of Robert Richardson, Department of Community Sustainability, in collaboration with IITA, CIMMYT, CIFOR, and key national partners in Zambia.
The study on the impact of sustainable intensification at the plot and farm level on landscapes and livelihoods will address questions about how sustainable intensification—in particular conservation agriculture and agro forestry systems—may influence encroachment into forested landscapes or protected areas. In addition, the study will consider the role of communal resources (e.g., community woodlots), household technologies (e.g., alternative cooking fuels), and alternative livelihoods in addressing problems of deforestation and environmental degradation. The study aims to better understand the benefits and tradeoffs associated with integrated programming that aims to target food security, climate change mitigation, and biodiversity conservation.
The 12-months project began on 1 April 2014, and will include four primary activities, as follows:

  • A review of literature on agricultural-environmental linkages, and the impacts of sustainable agricultural intensification
  • An inventory of data sets in Zambia that can provide evidence of agricultural-environmental linkages (including household survey data, spatial data, demographic information, and other data sets)
  • Development of a participatory systems dynamics model that will provide the foundation of an integrated framework of agricultural-environmental linkages
  • Analysis of spatial data for the development of maps and other images that represent agricultural-environmental linkages and the impacts of sustainable intensification practices

In 2013, Africa RISING has established a strategic partnership with the USAID Zambia funded SIMLEZA project to develop sustainable intensification options for small-scale farmers in Eastern Province of Zambia. The above mentioned study provides Africa RISING insight into the higher level impacts of the farm-level activities. This will allow redesign and adaptation of future research interventions to reduce negative and/or increase beneficial impacts in all Africa RISING target countries.
Story by Irmgard  Hoeschle-Zeledon(IITA) and Robert Richardson (MSU)

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