Farmers’ perception and its impacts on adoption of new agroforestry tree (gliricidia sepium) in Mwala Division, Kenya
Nzilu, Wanjiru Beatrice
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Mwala Division, Machakos County, suffers from different forms of land degradation which include low soil fertility, soil erosion and loss of soil biodiversity. Traditionally, small-scale farmers in the Division intercropped indigenous agroforestry tree species like Acacia tortilis (Mulaa) and Terminalia brownii (Mukuu) with farm crops in their farming systems as an intervention measure to land degradation. Presently the farmers have started adopting exotic agroforestry tree species especially Gliricidia sepium (Gliricidia) in their farming systems. This study was designed to find out why farmers were abandoning their indigenous farming practice and were shifting to Gliricidia agroforestry which is an exotic practice. To achieve this, farmers’ perception on the adoption of G sepium compared to A tortilis and T brownii tree species and its impacts in this Division was examined. The objectives of this study included the determination of how demographic factors influenced the adoption of G sepium in agroforestry among households, the famers’ level of awareness of the uses and benefits of G sepium compared to A tortilis and T brownii trees and the socio-economic and environmental benefits of adopting G sepium tree species in agroforestry. A descriptive survey design was adopted in which 384 respondents were randomly selected across Mwala Division to collect the required data. The instruments of data collection were observations, interviews and a questionnaire. Data were analyzed using the statistical software SPSS and presented in tables, bar graphs and pie charts. Chi-square ( ) and Spearman rank order correlation (rho (r)) techniques were also used. This research established that uses and benefits of G sepium had a positive influence on this adoption ( = 2.487, p≤ 0.05, r = 0.7, n = 384, df = 3.702). Factors which include gender ( = 7.277, p = 0.000), age (r = 0.84, p = 0.000, n = 384, df = 382), rainfall ( = 2.605, r = -0.65), soil fertility ( = 3.235, r = -0.52) and loss of soil biodiversity ( =3.467, r = -0.350) had a positive influence on farmers’ level of awareness on adoption of G sepium in agroforestry. Other factors which positively influenced this adoption included socio-economic benefits ( =1.630, r = 0.204, p = 0.000), environmental benefits ( = -0.691, r = - 0.084, p =0.000) and food security ( =1.363, r = 0.183, p = 0.000). These findings justify the reason for farmers shift from indigenous to exotic farming practice for it had impacted positively on their livelihoods. Therefore, G sepium can be an alternative agroforestry tree for use in rehabilitating land besides meeting farmers’ basic needs. Hence it is logical to conclude that, the farmers’ move of shifting from practicing indigenous agroforestry to exotic agroforestry was justified. However, there is need for capacity building to raise farmers’ level of awareness on the new innovation and a common market is necessary for farm resources to optimize farmer’s benefits from this technology. Suggestion for further research areas include: factors influencing value addition on production of G sepium and the impact of its adoption in agroforestry on livelihoods.