Regenerative agriculture takes a holistic approach to land management. It prioritizes ecosystem health and natural resource preservation. Across the African continent, initiatives and projects are emerging to embrace regenerative farming practices. They recognize their potential to address pressing challenges such as soil degradation, food insecurity, and environmental sustainability. From Rwanda to Zimbabwe, Kenya to Burundi, these diverse projects are embodying the ethos of regenerative farming. That's to cultivate land in harmony with nature, replenishing ecosystems while improving livelihoods. 

By integrating principles that restore soil fertility, promote biodiversity, and enhance water retention, regenerative agriculture holds promise not only for agricultural resilience, but also for economic empowerment and environmental conservation in Africa. 


Regenerative agriculture is a farming practice that takes care of the entire ecosystem. It preserves and elevates natural resources. Holistic natural tendencies are used to bring added benefits to disturbed or degraded land. This is to induce regeneration (“Regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon solution”, Jeff Moyer et al., Rodale Institute, updated September, 2020).

According to Kiss the Ground, regenerative agriculture is mainly composed of six fundamental regenerative farming practices. These work together to benefit people healthily, farmers economically, and the planet environmentally: 

  1. Minimum disturbance: Practicing continuous no-till or minimal tilling of the land. Thus, less mechanical disturbance and reduced tillage depth. Avoiding using pesticides and chemical fertilizers.
  2. Always covering soil and land with crops.
  3. Living rooted at all times: Planting trees and perennials near the main crop field.
  4. Animal integration through mob grazing and composting.
  5. Biodiversity: Practicing diversification of crops and pollutants like honeybees.
  6. Understanding the context: Taking into consideration the community, economy, climate, and ecology. 

Damaged soil recovers when farmers adopt regenerative agriculture (soil regeneration). The practice gives the soil that has been heavily tilled in the past, room to recover. Living organisms would start to thrive again, water would flow, and small animals would return to the land. Regenerative farming definition simply emphasizes the restoration of the entire ecosystem.


According to the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), the various benefits of continuous no-till agricultural practice are:


Ecdysis Foundation researched the profitability and other benefits of regenerative agriculture. These benefits include crop yield, pest control, and soil health. The foundation reviewed 20 farms practicing regenerative agriculture. They found that these farms were 78% more profitable than farms with conventional practices. The farms also had less input costs (e.g. fertilizer, pesticides, labor, and tilling equipment fuel).

Higher premiums in the market were the main reasons for profitability in the reviewed farms practicing regenerative agriculture (“Is Regenerative Agriculture Profitable?”, Artem Milinchuk, Forbes, updated Jan 30, 2020).

No-till saves time: Farmers save significant time when they adopt no-till practices. According to research by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a farmer practicing no-till farming on 1,000 acres of land would save about 67 hours for every 15 acres plowed per hour  (USDA, Saving Money, Time and Soil: The Economics of No-Till Farming, Updated on November 30, 2017)


Cropping strategy methods used could be inter-cropping, cover cropping, integrating crops with livestock, strip cropping, and multi-story cropping.

Growing cover crops and diversifying crops increase soil health and discourage pests outbreaks. Thus, in addition to the main cash crop grown, regenerative agriculture promotes the growing of cover crops (also called non-cash crops).

According to UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, the purposes of covering crops is to:

  • Reduce soil erosion
  • Trap carbon inside the ground
  • Improve soil structure
  • Retain water in the soil
  • Reduce outbreaks of diseases and pests
  • Add nitrogen to the soil
  • Promote the multiplication of biodiversity

The natural way of combating pests through cover crops is recommended because reliance on herbicides/pesticides, as well as machines that use fossil fuels decreases. Farmers should make sure they choose the right cover crops because some cover crops can be a magnet for rodents, insects, weeds, and etcetera. 

Intercropping is when different crops are grown in close proximity (in the same field). This can be alternating sections or rows. 

Strip cropping is a method where different crops are grown in alternate strips or lines. The purpose of this strategy is to leave some open and more exposed ground that will act like dams for water to be captured; and the line with the closely planted crop will block the water from washing away. Strip cropping prevents soil erosion and improves water retention.

Multi-story cropping is a practice where small crops or the main cash crops are grown between lines of long trees or shrubs. This type of planting creates an uneven height. The space between the trees is wide enough to let light and air through to the crops. The main advantages of multi-story cropping are reduction of soil erosion and improvement of soil health.

Diversifying: farmers are encouraged to grow more than two types of different crops on the land. Growing less than that encourages a pest outbreak (“Regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon solution”, Jeff Moyer et al., Rodale Institute, updated September, 2020).

Hedgerows can also be very useful when practicing no-till agriculture. Trees, shrubs, grasses, and other perennial vegetation can be carefully planted around the field where the main cash crop is grown. This practice is used to control weeds, promote air and water quality, and promote biodiversity. This practice attracts insects such as bees and other small animals that would prey on pests. Farmers should ensure that the vegetation planted tolerates the conditions in their areas (“Establishing hedgerows on farms in California”, R. Long and J. Anderson, University of California, updated April, 2010).

Having living roots in the ground throughout the year is beneficial to the soil. Roots feed microbes with sugars and acids and store nutrients and carbon. Legume crops are believed to be very efficient in carbon storing (“Regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon solution”, Jeff Moyer et al., Rodale Institute, updated September, 2020).


When the soil is not constantly disturbed by tilling it holds water in the ground really well. Water evaporation is reduced when the soil is intact. This is even more helpful in areas where drought is a big problem. In these areas with drought problems, crops die due to lack of water—any practice that would retain water is recommended. 


Soil naturally harbors billions of living organisms that are both visible and microscopic. For example bacteria, nematodes, protozoa, fungi, arthropods, spiders, earthworms, spiders and small insects. When the soil is healthy, these living organisms living underground thrive.

Several international studies found that organic farms had soil with 60% more living matter than the soil found on conventional farms (“Regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon solution”, Jeff Moyer et al., Rodale Institute, updated September, 2020).

The benefits of having thriving biodiversity include:

  • Soil health
  • Good soil structure that is resilient to stresses,
  • Increase in carbon sequestration


Agriculture is a major contributor of greenhouse gasses through conventional farming practices, fertilizer and pesticides, transportation, storing, disposing of waste, and etcetera.

When carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses are released in the air, they are naturally sequestered to the ground, ocean, and trees/plants. The soil traps most of the carbon naturally and if the soil is disturbed or tilled heavily, the carbon will be released back into the air. And this is feeding climate change and global warming. The idea of the no-till movement is to keep the carbon inside the ground.  

Continuously covering the ground with different types of crops, in addition to the cash crop, encourages biodiversity above ground and discourages pests outbreaks. We have an article on carbon sequestration and methane removal.


In relation to weeds and pest control, conventional agriculture and farming uses harmful synthetic pesticides/herbicides, genetically modified organisms, fertilizers, antibiotics, and other artificial supplements. These chemicals kill the living organisms that bring fertility to the soil.

Also, the chemicals are detrimental to the health of the people and animals  that consume food made from the treated crops or use textiles made from fibers of crops treated with harsh chemicals. Clothes made from organically grown cotton have no traces of chemicals that are harmful to the human skin and body.

Using compost and natural ways to feed the crops are a big part of regenerative agriculture and organic farming. As the animals are grazing on the fields, they eat away unwanted weeds and at the same time dispose of manure which naturally fertilizes the soil. Mulching is another practice used to suppress weeds naturally.

Composting encourages organic nitrogen and this compost replaces synthetic nitrogen. As a result more roots grow on plants and more carbon is sequestered (“Regenerative agriculture and the soil carbon solution”, Jeff Moyer et al., Rodale Institute, updated September, 2020).


A report made by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) and the UNFCCC High Level Champions, with the help of African partners, talks about how regenerative agriculture can help heal African land. 

This report talks about what might happen in the near future. If more farmers adopt regenerative practices in Africa, it could lead to big benefits. These include less soil erosion, better water retention, and richer soil with more nutrients. This could mean an increase in income for small farmers and millions of new jobs. Plus, it could help reduce food prices and make food more available. 

The report suggests that with the right support from governments and businesses, regenerative agriculture could make a big difference for both farmers and the environment in Africa (IUCN, Regenerative agriculture works: New research and African businesses show how, updated October 25, 2021).

News 24 features an article that talks about how regenerative agriculture could be a game-changer in Africa. But there are a lot of problems getting in the way, like not enough money for farmers and difficulty selling their crops. While some farmers already practice aspects of regenerative agriculture, there is a need for broader adoption and more support in implementing these practices effectively. Governments and organizations need to step in to help. Also, more education and better technology are needed. Even though there are challenges, regenerative agriculture could boost the economy, create more jobs, and reduce poverty in Africa (News24, Sustainable farming has great potential in Africa. Why does it face so many roadblocks?, updated April 2023).

Impact of regenerative agriculture on local African communities:

Regenerative farming projects across different African countries have a significant impact on local communities. These initiatives create opportunities for smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods by increasing crop yields, enhancing food security, and diversifying income through sustainable agricultural practices. By promoting local knowledge sharing, capacity building, and community engagement, regenerative farming projects empower farmers to adopt innovative techniques that contribute to long-term resilience, prosperity, and self-reliance.

Impact of regenerative agriculture on African economies:

Economically, sustainable farming practices stimulate rural development, support local markets, and create new employment opportunities. Regenerative farming contributes to economic growth, poverty reduction, and the revitalization of rural economies. It does this by reducing input costs, improving productivity, and enhancing market access for organic and sustainably produced goods.

Impact of regenerative agriculture on the environment on the African continent:

Environmentally, these initiatives play a crucial role in conserving natural resources, mitigating climate change, and restoring degraded landscapes. Regenerative farming projects contribute to ecosystem resilience, carbon sequestration, and environmental sustainability. This is achieved by improving soil health, enhancing biodiversity, conserving water, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Thus, safeguarding the health and well-being of current and future generations.


Regenerative farming projects are making a positive impact across various African countries. Sustainable practices that prioritize soil health, biodiversity, and water conservation are promoted.

Rwanda and Kenya

One study, Ntawuhiganayo et al., Assessing the adoption of regenerative agricultural practices in Eastern Africa, 2023, looked at farming practices in Rwanda and Kenya that follow the circular economy principles. They wanted to understand why some farmers use these methods and how it affects food security. 

The study discussed how in Africa, many people depend on farming for their living. But farming faces problems like climate change, land getting worse, and not having enough resources. These problems make it harder to grow food and make it harder for people to have enough to eat.

Africa's population has been growing, and now it buys more food than it makes. To try and make more food, farmers often use a lot of chemicals and intensive farming methods. These methods hurt the environment and make people sick in the long run.

To solve these problems, farming needs to change. Instead of using a lot of resources and making waste, we need to do things differently. One idea is called the circular economy (CE). It means using resources wisely and not making waste. This could help Africa economically and also make farming more resilient against climate change and disasters.

Regenerative agriculture is part of this idea. As stated above, it's about farming in a way that's good for the earth and for people. Instead of using lots of chemicals and energy, it focuses on keeping soil healthy and using fewer resources. If more farmers do this, it could help save water, land, and reduce pollution. It could also bring food security, more jobs, and less harm to the environment. 

Some countries in Africa are already trying out these ideas, like Rwanda and Kenya. They're starting to support farmers who use organic fertilizers and are promoting eco-friendly farming methods.

The research took place in Rwanda and Kenya because both countries have shown interest in Circular Economy (CE) practices. The study selected eight sites in these countries based on different factors like altitude and distance from protected areas. The aim was to compare how farmers near protected areas versus those farther away adopt regenerative agriculture.

Results showed that most respondents were smallholder farmers growing crops like maize, beans, and potatoes. They also owned livestock. The study investigated 11 regenerative agricultural practices, with crop rotation and intercropping being the most common.

Factors influencing the adoption of regenerative practices included training, visits from extension agents, and proximity to protected areas. Farmers who received training were more likely to adopt these practices. Interestingly, farmers not frequently visited by extension agents tended to adopt practices without formal training, possibly through informal learning from other farmers.

In terms of food security, the number of regenerative practices positively impacted household food security. Also, owning livestock and having more farm plots increased the likelihood of food security.

The study suggests the importance of training and extension services in promoting regenerative agriculture. It also highlights the potential of these practices to improve food security among smallholder farmers. Further research is recommended to explore specific regenerative practices and their impact on food security. These findings could guide efforts to scale up regenerative agriculture for a more resilient food and agricultural system.

One Acre Fund in Burundi 

One Acre Fund has a project in Burundi, East Africa. Their plan is to help more than 100,000 women farmers plant 2.5 million trees. These trees will include different kinds like timber, fruit, and nuts. The project aims to stop soil erosion, improve soil quality, make money for families, make the environment better, and provide healthy food.

One Acre Fund wants to plant one billion trees in sub-Saharan Africa in 15 years, and this project is part of that goal (One Earth, Five projects using community-led regenerative agriculture to fight climate change, December 1, 2023).

La Via Campesina (LVC) in Zimbabwe 

La Via Campesina (LVC), a group of rural African farmers, is doing more work in Zimbabwe and nearby places to support better ways of farming. They want to help with problems caused by over farming, climate change, and health issues.

This project, supported by the Agroecology Fund, wants to teach a new group of leaders about better farming. People in local communities will learn about seeds, different plants, GMOs, and climate change through training. This will help farmers, women, young people, indigenous groups, and migrants.

Farming projects led by communities can help with many big problems like climate change, not having enough food, and unfair money situations. By making nature better and helping small farmers, these projects can create food systems that are stronger and better for everyone and the earth (One Earth, Five projects using community-led regenerative agriculture to fight climate change, December 1, 2023).

Pfumvudza in Zimbabwe 

Another program in  Zimbabwe is "Pfumvudza", a Conservation Agriculture program. It has been successful in improving soil fertility and water retention through minimum tillage, mulching, and crop rotation, benefiting smallholder farmers and enhancing food security.

'Push-Pull' system in Kenya

Similarly, in Kenya, the 'Push-Pull' system developed by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE) has proven effective. They control pests and boost maize yields by intercropping with desmodium and planting napier grass as a trap crop. This innovative approach reduces the need for chemical pesticides, improves soil health, conserves water, and supports biodiversity. All these contribute to sustainable agriculture in Africa and environmental stewardship. 

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA)

Africa is really affected by climate change, and the United Nations (UN) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) agree. The weather is getting hotter, there are more droughts and floods, and the soil is eroding. This is making it hard for Africa to grow enough food and is causing big problems for the future. 

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is a group that thinks agroecology and food sovereignty are the best ways to deal with climate change. Agroecology means using ecology ideas in farming. Ecology is about studying how plants, people, animals, and their surroundings interact and stay in balance.

AFSA started in 2011 at a UN COP17 meeting about climate change in South Africa. It brings together 40 groups of farmers, indigenous people, citizens, and environmentalists from 50 African countries. They want small farmers to lead the way in farming, not big companies. They want to use agroecology, which is a more natural way of farming, and stop harmful farming methods. One  African country AFSA works in is Senegal. But they want to reach 7 million people and get 10 African countries to put agroecology in their climate plans (One Earth, Advocating for Agroecology to Increase Food Security and Reduce Climate Impacts in Senegal and Beyond).

Farm Africa in Kenya 

Farm Africa has been teaching thousands of small farmers in Embu and Tharaka-Nithi, in Kenya, how to do regenerative agriculture. They train people who can help farmers in their villages and teach them how to store food, grow gardens at home, and run their farms like a business. They believe in engaging the government to make sure they make rules that help regenerative farming. They also tell scientists and companies about the good ways of farming they have found, so they can use them too.

Farm Africa is working on a project called the Acorn initiative with Rabobank. The aim is to help farmers grow trees on their land and sell the carbon the trees take out of the air. It's good for the environment and makes the soil better too (Farm Africa, Regenerative Agriculture).


Regenerative agriculture is important for Africa's future as it offers sustainable solutions to pressing challenges facing the continent, such as food insecurity, environmental degradation, and climate change.

Regenerative practices can help smallholder farmers increase agricultural productivity, resilience, and livelihoods. Improving soil health, enhancing biodiversity, conserving water, are some sustainable practices used.

Furthermore, regenerative agriculture contributes to environmental sustainability and climate resilience. This is achieved through ecosystem restoration, natural resource conservation, and carbon sequestration.

Regenerative agriculture can also foster economic growth, rural development, and social well. It brings job opportunities, enhances market access, and revitalizes local economies.

Even though regenerative agriculture in Africa is practiced in different countries by local farmers, these sustainable practices are not widely adopted. Different projects in Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and other countries, are proving to successfully implement regenerative agriculture practices.  However, it is important that more farmers are educated on the advantages of regenerative farming. Also, collaboration among farmers, governments, nonprofits/NGOs, and the private sector should be encouraged. It is vital for advancing regenerative agriculture in Africa.

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