Conservation practices can be of great importance in semi-arid regions for obtaining high crop yields and income, but adoption of the conservation practices, economic efficiencies and benefits remain unknown by most smallholders. The paper presents an overview of the adoption of conservation agriculture (CA), conservation farming (CF) and conventional tillage (ConvT), their technical efficiency and economic benefits. The study was carried out in Wards 4 and 17, Chimanimani District, Zimbabwe using a cross-sectional survey of 179 farmers involving participatory was used. A Stochastic frontier analysis (SFA) was used to determine relative technical efficiencies between CA, CF and ConvT farmers. Maximum likelihood estimation (MLE) technique was used to estimate Cobb-Douglas frontier production function. Gross margin (GM) analysis was employed to determine economic benefits by farmer category. Results showed that adoption was 59% for CF 20% for CA techniques and 69% for ConvT. SFA in R revealed that CF, CA and ConvT farmers were 87, 81 and and 64% technically efficient respectively. GM analysis showed that CF had the highest GM/ha of $99.88 and 196.20 with and without family labor cost respectively. This was followed by CA with GM/ha of $63.82 and 158.60.ConvT farmers had the least GM of -$25.16 and 65.20 with and without family labor cost. Most communal farmers considered ConvT to be a traditional practice; this could have been responsible for high adoption of the practice. Farmers showed a negative attitude towards CA despite the high labor requirements for CF. It is recommended that, of all the three practices in semi-arid regions, farmers use CF practice as it gives highest technical efficiency and GM.
Key words: Conservation agriculture, conservation farming, adoption, technical efficiency, stochastic frontier analysis.
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