Co-designing the transitions towards integrated market oriented mixed farming systems in semi-arid Zimbabwe
poverty trap. These barriers include low soil fertility, variable climates, weak knowledge support, and lack of markets. Conventional technical options are insufficient to improve smallholder livelihoods. Given the diversity in resource endowments and livelihood sources identifying intensification options that fit circumstances remains problematic. In this paper we demonstrate co‐designing approaches (i.e. with multiple stakeholders) for two sites i.e. Gwanda and Nkayi districts, of contrasting agro‐ecological potential. We engaged low, medium and high resource endowed farmers to (i) co‐design plausible improved scenarios that included incremental changes ‐ testing currently promoted technologies for crop‐livestock intensification and drastic change ‐ assuming that removing barriers will encourage investments towards resilient and profitable farming; and (ii) We quantified benefits and trade offs from alternative integrated actions using an integrated whole farm modelling approach (APSFArm‐LivSim‐TOAMD). At both sites incremental change options improved food security through better‐integrated cereal‐legume‐livestock systems; income effects were however limited. Drastic change options achieved more substantial improvements in productivity, food and income generation: farmers set more land in use, with more diversified forage, food and cash crops and adapted cultivars, organic and mineral fertilizer application, small‐scale mechanization for ploughing and product processing and improved livestock management. Packages tailored to farm situations had larger benefits on food security and income than blanket applications. Recommendations that take into account the socioeconomic context and policies are key and need to be communicated in more effective ways for enabling more sustainable futures for smallholders in Zimbabwe.