FACTORS INFLUENCING ADOPTION OF AGROFORESTRY PRACTICES AMONG RURAL HOUSEHOLDS IN NAMBALE DIVISION, BUSIA COUNTY, KENYA
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University of Eldoret
The Kenyan government has throughout its history come up with ambitious agricultural policies and strategies seeking to enhance agricultural production and performance as a tool to improve the livelihood of majority of its citizens that are rural-based. After nearly 20 years of agroforestry research in the country, smallholder farmers that are often faced with low crop production, soil erosion, scarcity of fuel wood and fodder, would be expected to adopt agroforestry practices. However, there seems to be low rate of adoption. The main objective of the study was to examine factors that influence the adoption of agroforestry practices in Nambale Division, Busia County. More specifically, the study sought to examine the types of agroforestry practices that exist in the area, to assess farmer-oriented factors that influence adoption of agroforestry practices, to examine technical factors (biophysical conditions, tree varieties, skills, knowledge) that influence adoption of agroforestry, to assess community oriented factors (socio-cultural) that influence the adoption of agroforestry practices, and to evaluate the benefits of agroforestry farming practices to households in Nambale Division, Busia County. This study was guided by the Agroforestry Decision Making Theory by Rene Koppelman and James H. French (1996). According to the theory, adoption of agroforestry by farmers at the household level is a decision making process that is influenced by various sets of factors: on-farm and off-farm factors. The target population was the farmers while households were the units of analysis. Purposive sampling was used to select the study area and the key informants, while simple random sampling technique was used to select the 200 respondents that participated in the study. A semi-structured questionnaire, key informant interviews, informal discussions and direct observation were used for data collection. Data was analyzed both qualitatively (through descriptions and narratives) and quantitatively (through descriptive statistics). Results indicated that agrisilviculture, boundary planting and trees in homesteads were the common agroforestry practices; level of education, land ownership, land size, gender and household headship influenced the decision to adopt agroforestry practices; lack of technical information on agroforestry and/or contradicting information, land limit, limited sources of information including low extension services, and lack of seeds also influenced adoption of agroforestry practices at the household level. Results also indicated that belief and use of specific agroforestry species influenced their adoption. Results further showed that most household engaged agroforestry practices for environmental, medicinal, economic and livelihood benefits. The study concluded that although agroforestry benefitted farmers, they would gain more if they improved on the current agronomic practices. The study recommends provision of various information sources to farmers and training on agroforestry practices that would optimize benefits for the households.