• Malunga Syacumpi

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis is an exploration of conservation agriculture (CA) in Zambia. It centres on the processes that underpin the promotion and implementation of CA in Zambia, with a specific focus on who the key players are and how they interplay to push forward the CA agenda for improving smallholder agricultural productivity. It interrogates the emergence of CA as a “smallholder” agricultural development strategy in order to understand how CA is framed at different levels. It identifies how, information is transmitted and technology adopted, and the different societal relationships that emerge as a consequence and how these influence agronomic and social outcomes among smallholder farmers. The thesis seeks to answer three questions: first, who are the key players in CA in Zambia and what is the nature of their role in framing and adoption? Second, what are the agronomic and social outcomes of CA in Zambia and what are their implications for smallholder agriculture? Third, what are the lessons and prospects for CA in African agriculture? The study establishes as a backdrop to the increased advocacy for CA the international agenda of climate change adaptation and mitigation that is rapidly being assimilated into the governmental lexicon of development. This has seen carbon sequestration, biomass production, and soil and land use management identified as the means to incorporate climate change in development planning, and especially agricultural development. This has given rise to a global push towards the farmer-led transformation of agricultural production systems based on conservation agriculture (CA) as a ‘climate smart’ agricultural (CSA) strategy. In turn, this has prompted broader debates about the role of CA in the process of rural development and the survival of agrarian societies in sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these debates however have only produced partial understandings of the socio-economic dynamics of CA thus highlighting gaps in the processes that underpin its promotion and implementation including specific country level protagonists and socio-economic outcomes among the smallholder farmers. The thesis sets out to address these gaps with a critical investigation of the processes of CA promotion and adoption in Zambia and argues that CA programming in Zambia is a private sector-driven smallholder agricultural development initiative that is pushing towards a form of smallholder commercialisation that favours the financially better off farmers with a de facto outcome of contributing to creating a new class of farmers.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Woodhouse (Supervisor) & Admos Chimhowu (Supervisor)


  • Conservation Agriculture
  • Smallholder Farmer
  • Narratives
  • Interests

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