Taking smallholder farming conditions into account

Before proposing a definition for ISFM, it is important to sketch the context under which the smallholder farmer in SSA operates. At the regional scale, overall agro-ecological and soil conditions have led to diverse population and livestock densities across SSA and to a wide range of farming systems. Each of these systems has different crops, cropping patterns, soil management considerations, and access to inputs and commodity markets. At the national scale, smallholder agriculture is strongly influenced by governance, policy, infrastructure, and security levels. Within farming communities, a wide diversity of farmer wealth classes, inequality, and production activities may be distinguished. Analysis of farmer wealth classes in north-east Zimbabwe illustrates the variability that is typical of farmer communities in maize-based farming systems. Use of cattle manure and more fertiliser by the wealthier farmers results in higher farm-level productivity than on poorer farms.