The State of Conservation Agriculture Practices in Jimma and Illu-Ababora Zones of Oromia Region, Ethiopia
Main Article Content
Conservation agriculture (CA) practices were assessed in six districts of Jimma and Illu-Ababora Zones in Oromia region of Ethiopia in 2017. A multi-stage sampling procedure was followed to select districts, sub-districts and households. Sample districts were identified purposefully based on agricultural and environmental conservation practices, and stratified into three different agro-ecologies based on elevation. Two sub-districts were randomly picked in each district from two different agro-ecologies, and sample households randomly chosen. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through structured household interviews, key informant interviews (KIIs), and focus group discussions (FGDs). The results showed that farmers exercise different types of CA practices. Rotating crops, aimed at enhancing soil fertility restoration and minimizing pest and disease build-up, was a relatively common practice recorded in 36.3% (n=2075) of the plots or by 59% (n=412) of the total households. However, this practice has come waning because of declining landholdings. Consequently, it is common to find plots consecutively planted to the same crop suggesting unsustainable farming system in the study areas. Reduced tillage, crop residue retention and intercropping were reported in 6%, 10% and 6.5% (n=2074) of the farmers’ plots, respectively. However, from contemporary CA perspective the current level of adoption is low, and is limited to one or a few components. Land and oxen shortage, crop-livestock production tradeoff, low crop biomass, and weeds and insect pests, inadequate
promotion by the agricultural extension advisory services, and farmers’ obsession towards repetitive tillage are likely to contribute to the lower adoption. Hence, improving biomass availability, diversifying sources of livestock feed and controlled grazing, and introducing alternative energy sources for cooking are suggested. Besides, awareness creation and building the capacity of Extension Officers and farmers, revisiting the extension message on tillage frequency, and promoting CA in a stepwise process through options by context approach are recommended.