Can Conservation Agriculture Save Tropical Forests? The Case of Minimum Tillage in Zambia

November 14, 2018 - Hambulo Ngoma and Arild Angelsena

Hambulo Ngoma, Arild Angelsena, 2018. Can conservation agriculture save tropical forests? The case of minimum tillage in Zambia. Forest Policy and Economics, Volume 97, December 2018, Pages 153-162.

Minimum tillage (MT) is a key component in the promotion of conservation agriculture (CA). This paper asks whether MT reduces cropland expansion and thus deforestation. We develop a theoretical household model of land expansion, and test hypotheses by estimating a double hurdle model using household survey data from 368 smallholders in rural Zambia. About 19% of the farmers expanded cropland into forests, clearing an average of 0.14 ha over one year. Overall, we do not find significant associations between MT adoption and reduced deforestation among households in our sample, while higher labor availability and crop yield stimulate expansion. Yield augmenting agricultural technologies (such as MT) may not reduce expansion unless combined with other forest conservation measures.

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