Despite the reported benefits of conservation agriculture (CA), its wider up-scaling in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has remained fairly limited. This paper shows how a newly developed qualitative expert assessment approach for CA adoption (QAToCA) was applied to determine its adoption potential in SSA. CA adoption potential is not a predictor of observed adoption rates. Instead, our aim was to systematically check relevant factors that may be influencing its adoption. QAToCA delivers an assessment of how suitable conditions "and thus the likelihood for CA adoption" are. Results show that the high CA adoption potentials exhibited by the Malawi and Zambia case relate mostly to positive institutional factors. On the other hand, the low adoption potential of the Zimbabwe case, in spite of observed higher estimates, is attributed mainly to unstable and less secured market conditions for CA. In the case of Southern Burkina Faso, the potential for CA adoption is determined to be high, and this assessment deviates from lower observed figures. This is attributed mainly to strong competition of CA and livestock for residues in this region. Lastly, the high adoption potential found in Northern Burkina Faso is explained mainly by the fact that farmers here have no alternative other than to adopt the locally adapted CA system-Zaï farming. Results of this assessment should help promoters of CA in the given regions to reflect on their activities and to eventually adjust or redesign them based on a more explicit understanding of where problems and opportunities are found.