You're Invited: A Conservation Agriculture "Virtual" Field Workshop in Brazil - starts SUNDAY July 10, 2011

posted on behalf of Jeff Brez

Please join Project Breadbasket, Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), the Brazilian No-Till Federation (FEBRAPDP), EMATER, the LaGuardia Foundation and other partners on a six-day "South-South learning journey" to Parana State to support scaling up of conservation agriculture (CA) among smallholders in Africa. My name is Jeff - responsible for environment and climate learning at IFAD - and I'll be your virtual classmate, linking you directly to the participants.

We will share our daily activities with you each day via blog posts with photos, video interviews and video demonstrations (technology permitting). We hope you will share your experiences, expertise and feedback via social media along the way. Don't be shy - send us your questions!

How can you participate virtually? You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and on this blog. You can either post your comments here on the blog, or send them as a tweet to @IFADnews (#ENRM). Last but not least you can also post your comment on our Facebook page.
I'll do my best to share the perspectives of the participants - from Brazil, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Among the contributors to the workshop we also find technical experts from Brazil (FEBRAPDP, EMBRAPA and the Parana State agricultural agency IAPAR). The objective is ambitious: explore how to scale up CA approaches to benefit over 420,000 smallholders in Africa.
So, between now and Sunday the 10th July (Day 1 of our reporting back to you) send us your comments and questions - feel free to be very specific. We also appreciate if you will share with us below good links on conservation agriculture (a favorite publication, paper or article). You can comment in FRANÇAIS, ESPAÑOL, and PORTUGUÊS, as well as ENGLISH. We are looking forward to your active participation in this exciting South-South cooperation initiative.


ralisch said…
Nice Job.
All activities are very well organized.
Please consider also EMATER, Parana State agency for rural extension also like organizer.
Ricardo Ralisch
Carlo Ponzio said…
I am technical consultant and I am interested in chemical-free methods/practices to control weeds in a CA crop rotation. I experienced several problems with weeds during implementation of a CA project in Swaziland, with small scale farmers. The no-till approach caused the emergence of too many weed seedlings, hard to be controlled by hand after sowing the crop. Anyway; I would like to lauch this topic, as it is quite sensitive for the dissemination of an ecologically-sound CA option. Thanks, Carlo (Italy)
Brian said…
This is an excellent question. The options are: biological (cover crops, crop associations and crop rotations) which can out-compete the weeds; mechanical (surface mulches, shallow surface weeding or even hand pulling); and chemical (which you don't like). Your best bet, maybe, is to use chemicals sparingly in the first season until the system matures and stabilizes and the cover crops and surface residue mulches can take over. When that happens you can cut back (and out) the herbicides. I think that you need to be patient and wait a while for Nature to take control; don't try to reach an ideal end-point in one season.
Jeff Brez said…
@Carlo - many thanks for your comment. This is a key issue that we will discuss and share. Stay with us!! We will start blogging Sunday.
Anonymous said…
This has been the single biggest problem we have experienced in implementing CA in Lesotho. This is a very valuable question. A chemical free CA system is not easy, but possible. Your best way forward will be the use of cover crops. We have had the best results to date with cereal crops and a legume. Rye or wheat and grazing vetch seem to be a winner. Come and visit in Lesotho to see what could be done. August
August Basson said…
Just to add to my last comment. It is a previledge to be part of the workshop in Brazil and I am looking forward to learn from the Brazilian experts. Herbert Bartz made a few worthwhile comments this morning: Any system that take more out than what it is putting back is doomed to failure.
He also said: You can fool many people, but you cannot fool nature.
Anonymous said…
Another problem is parasites in grazing animals. To avoid a lot of chemicals and treatment a specie rotation probably has to be introduced. Do you have any ideas about this?
Åke Sivertun Sweden
sepo Marongwe said…
One of our biggest constraints in Zimbabwe is ensuring enough mulch cover in CA systems. Our farming system is a mixed crop and livestock one where crop residues are traditionally used for livestock feed. It will be very interesting to here suggestions from other country's that have successfully integrated cropping and Livestock systems within CA!
dukpin said…
I was not able to attended your programs but it was good organize is a great credit to you all.My outfit would be grateful in you could add us to all your activities and programs,we are an ngo based in Ghana and our scope of operation are Agriculture,Sanitation,Water,Health,Environment,Free seeds to the poor in deprived farmers areas.
Jeff Brez said…
See blog posts for Day 1 - 6 of the field workshop, including powerpoints, demonstration videos and an analysis of conservation agriculture impacts on women's labor (Day 5).

See Marc Corbeels' Day 1 powerpoint for analysis of yields through the "transition" periods, which can vary.