(MCC Photo/Matthew Sawatzky)
Stezen Mudenda, of MCC partner Kulima Mbobumi Training Center in Zimbabwe’s rural Binga district, spreads mulch to conserve moisture in the soil. This is one of the practices of conservation agriculture, an approach to helping increase crop yield and soil health that MCC and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank are promoting in projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
The three pillars of conservation agriculture are simple — but dramatically different from the usual practice of tilling or plowing soil before planting. Instead, soil is left as undisturbed as possible. Bare soil is covered with a cover crop or a mulch of organic materials, and crops are rotated.
Participants in MCC-supported trainings often learn other conservation practices such as thinning crops and building contours to prevent soil erosion. They are encouraged to plant fruit trees and vegetable gardens, to harvest rainwater to help offset dry conditions and to compost. The idea of conservation agriculture is to increase the organic matter in the soil, helping crop yields and income increase.