Date of Graduation

8-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Agricultural Economics (MS)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness

Advisor

Lawton L. Nalley

Committee Member

Bruce L. Dixon

Second Committee Member

Qiuqiong Huang

Third Committee Member

Heather A. Snell

Keywords

Adoption, Agroecological Zone, Conservation Agriculture, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Farmers' Perception, Smallholders Farmers

Abstract

The agricultural sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is still struggling to cope with its post-independence political and structural instability. From 1961 to 2000, the DRC experienced a decrease of 34% and 37% in daily caloric intake and protein intake, respectively. The DRC’s agriculture sector, led by women (who are the core of subsistence farming), is now being targeted as a potential pathway out of poverty through sustainable development programs. Empowering farmers to increase productivity by educating them to use conservation agriculture (CA), a more sustainable alternative to the traditional slash-and-burn agricultural practice, could contribute to reducing vulnerability, alleviate food insecurity, and fight poverty while being ecologically sustainable. This study assesses the impact of the “Improving Agricultural Productivity through No-Tillage Agriculture” program in the DRC from 2009 to 2012. This program targeted vulnerable women who were victims in some capacity of the Congolese War. Training on the sustainable CA practice was provided to 8,290 farmers in the Maniema province of the DRC. The program goal was to increase agricultural productivity and sustainability through CA adoption by improving crop yields and soil management and decreasing deforestation caused by slash-and-burn.

Findings suggest that the location of the farm (being in the savannah or forest), training, having accessed to credit, belonging to a farmers’ group, and being a vulnerable female, all drove adoption to varying degrees and directions. Vulnerable women, the target for this project, were found to be less likely to adopt CA. From this study’s findings, targeting vulnerable women who are part of a farmers’ group may increase the number of vulnerable women who would adopt CA in the future. The results of this study provide future CA projects with important information on what the drivers of adoption are and what the perceived benefits of adoption by adopters. From these two important pieces of information, future research and CA projects in the DRC can more precisely focus on specific groups of producers based on location, gender, and other social characteristics to both increase adoption of CA and market the specific benefits producers are looking for more efficiently.

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