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Factors Influencing Adoption of Agroforestry for Management (Thesis Sample)



1.1 Background of the study
Kenya is one of the countries in African where agriculture forms the main source of livelihood. Agricultural production in the country is rain-fed and provides 80% of the food demand, 70% of employment and 40% of the foreign exchange earnings (National Economic Survey 2014). In Narok County, agriculture supports 90% of the county population through crop and livestock production (Narok County Economic Survey Report, 2014). However, forest products and land leasing have emerged as alternative livelihoods (NEMA-Narok County State of Environment Report, 2013).
Environmental experts and agencies involved in environment management have expressed that these livelihoods are causing environmental problems in the county with land degradation being cited as a being of major concern.
Land degradation is defined as the deterioration in the quality of land, its top soil, vegetation, and/or water resources, caused usually by excessive or inappropriate exploitation (Young, 1989), or the reduction or loss of the biological or economic productivity or complexity of rain fed cropland, irrigated cropland or range (Sileshi et al, 2007). In the Agro pastoral areas of Narok County, land degradation is compounded by population increase that has led to increased demand for food and environmental resources, thus exerting pressure on land resources.
In crop production, monoculture, overuse of inorganic agro-chemicals and lack of soil conservation structures on the farms are some of the inappropriate farming methods that have accelerated land degradation.
In livestock production, the culture of keeping large herds of livestock with diminishing land parcels leads to overstocking with the impact of over-pulverizing the soil. This makes the soils more prone to erosion. There is no longer enough land to allow long fallow periods; more and larger herds compete for forage; and other traditional systems of land use are being placed under increasing strain with farmers responding by trying to develop new strategies. As a result, marginal land - steep land, land in areas of uncertain rainfall and land with poor, erodible soils is being overused.
In forestry, large areas of forests have been destroyed and much traditional marginal pasture land has been put under cultivation to grow crops. Young trees planted cannot grow to maturity because they are grazed on by the livestock. The agro pastoral communities practice free range grazing system. A number of households (20%) are dependent on tree products such as wood fuel, timber, posts and charcoal. This livelihood based on tree and tree products without commensurate efforts in restoration is manifested in land degradation.
In land leasing, the lease’s interest is focused more on maximizing profits from the land without investing in land conservation measures. There are no prescribed guidelines compelling the leasees to undertake conservation measures while using the land (Narok County Ministry of Agriculture Report, 2014). Where vegetative cover is removed, the soil surface is exposed to the impact of raindrops which causes a sealing of the soil surface. Less rain then infiltrates the soil. Runoff increases, stream flows fluctuate more than before, flooding becomes more frequent and extensive. These conditions encourage soil erosion; as a result, sediment loads in rivers are increasing, dams are filling with silt, infrastructure is being damaged, waterways are being blocked, water quality is deteriorating and much of aquatic life is being lost. These land use practices are altering hydrological conditions in the county (NEMA-Narok County State of Environment Report, 2013).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
During The Earth Summit in Rio de Jenairo, Brazil it emerged that land degradation is becoming a global problem. It was resolved that world countries faced with this challenges should act urgently to manage this problem by launching conservation and rehabilitation programmes in the most critically affected and vulnerable areas.' (Agenda 21, The Earth Summit Rio de Janeiro, June 1992). In order to respond to this global concern, Kenya has made significant steps in addressing land degradation and its effects. The government and conservation partners with support of international agencies such as the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) for the last two decades have funded programmes targeted at addressing the problem of land degradation in the agro pastoral areas of Narok County. Agro forestry is one of the intervention strategies promoted.
Agro forestry (AF) is defined by Wenner (1981), as a deliberate use of woody perennials such as trees, shrubs, on the same land management unit as agricultural crops, pasture and/or animals, in a mixed spatial arrangement in the same place at the same time or a sequence over time; that may take the form of alley cropping practice in which annual crops are grown in the spaces between rows of trees.
Despite conceited efforts by the Kenyan government and partners in environmental conservation, farmers in agro pastoral areas of Narok County have not significantly taken up these AF practices. Therefore there is need to find out what factors inhibit or enable adoption of agro forestry in order to give direction on options and strategies that when promoted and picked up will help address the problem of land degradation in agro pastoral areas of Narok County.
Justification of the study is to assess the best methods and strategies that can be employed to enhance adoption of agro forestry for effective management of land degradation in agro pastoral areas of Narok County. This study is important in that its findings will be useful in extension services and land use planning. Environmental stewards and government will use its findings to give policy direction and issue guidelines aimed at enhancing agro-forestry adoption for the management of land degradation.
1.3 Justification
Studies by Liniger N.P, Ondieki C.N and Kironchi G. indicate that the degradation in agro pastoral areas of Kenya has received a great deal of publicity through various programmes of UNEP (1992) and SIDA (1988), but a comprehensive concept of understanding and improving these areas is still absent (Warren and Agnew, 1988). In Kenya and the surrounding East African countries, much attention has been focused on soil conservation. There has been a bias towards physical measures, e.g fanya juu terraces, which seem to be appropriate in steep slopes in high rainfall areas. Moreover, conservation efforts are moving towards the agro pastoral areas but the same techniques are not necessarily suitable. Too little applied research has been carried out to assess the most efficient methods that are also attractive to the farmers in the agro pastoral areas (Hudson and Cheatle, 1992). Furthermore, heavy input conservation (in terms of labor and money) seems to be the only marginally attractive for people struggling for survival. More emphasis needs to be put on integrating socio-cultural and economic interventions (F.N Gichuki, 1993).
Farm households in agro pastoral areas traditionally depend on livestock as their main source of livelihood. However, in the recent years, due to high deaths of livestock occasioned by frequent droughts, the households have diversified into crop based livelihood (Narok CIDP). As fathers share out land to their sons as an inheritance, land holdings per households are diminishing as has been witnessed over the years. This practice of land sub-division while the communities in these areas still want to retain the large herds of livestock results into higher pressure on land with the consequences of decline in soil fertility levels and low land productivity Mango (2002).
The above livelihood strategies have caused massive soil loss in most farms in agro pastoral areas of Narok County that. Soil loss in most farms in agro pastoral areas of Narok County was found to be above the acceptable upper limit of 5 tons per acre per year as determined by (Wenner et. al.) using the universal soil loss equation; A=RKLSCP);where;
A= amount of soil loss in tons/acre/year,
R=annual long term mean (LTM) rainfall in mm recorded over 30 years,
K=constant of rainfall erosivity (the ability of rainfall to cause erosion) and soil erodibility (the ability of soil to resist erosion),
L= length of slope (m),
S= slope percentage,
C= crop or vegetation type covering the soil and
P= practice for land use method e.g. intercropping with trees (Wenner).
Land degradation in agro pastoral areas of the county is exacerbated further by the emergence of livelihood based on utilization of tree and tree products in the form of wood fuel and charcoal production without commensurate efforts in restoration (Narok County CIDP)
The above scenarios call for urgent interventions and agro forestry, that that has the ability to sustainably provide food security and ecosystem services was flagged for up-take by the agro pastoral communities.
The World Bank, SIDA, UNDP have invested huge amounts of resources through the agriculture sector institutions for sensitizing and doing capacity building on agro forestry to the agro pastoral communities in Narok County. Agroforestry technologies have been disseminated by different actors through research and extension services. These technologies include intercropping, crop rotation, use of manure and compost, pasture and fodder for use in zero and semi-zero grazing methods, improved livestock breeds and fruit trees (County Agriculture Sector Report, 2014). It is expected that farmers in the study areas have had the opportunity of acquiring adequate infor...
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