Farmers’ Perceptions and Adoption of Micro Catchments for Improved Establishment of Agroforestry Trees in East Shewa Zone, Ethiopia
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Tree planting on farms has both environmental and socioeconomic benefits. The practice of establishing trees and tree plantations is common among rural population in the dry regions of Ethiopia, who depend on livestock, trees and tree products for subsistence. Despite the importance of trees, their survival in these dry areas is low and often challenged by drought and water shortage. To address the water scarcity problem, two micro catchments specifically, micro basins and trenches were established in East Shewa zone of Ethiopia. This study sought to assess their suitability in enhancing the survival of three tree species namely Cordia Africana Lam, Grevillea robusta A.Cunn. ex R.Br, and Mangifera indica L. Survival of the trees grown in the micro catchments was compared to trees grown in the ordinary planting pits (control). The specific objectives of the study include 1. To assess farmers’ perception of the effectiveness of micro catchments in establishment of agroforestry trees. 2. To determine factors influencing adoption of micro catchments for tree survival. 3. To determine the effectiveness of micro catchments in enhancing survival of agroforestry trees. Data to assess farmers’ perceptions and factors influencing adoption of the micro catchments were collected through a household survey involving 142 farmers and key informant interviews. Tree survival data was collected at intervals of 6 months from planting time up to 36 months. Using the statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and STATA descriptive statistics and regression models were used to analyze the data while the Kaplan Meier method using SPSS was used for tree survival analyses. Results showed that over 50% of the respondents perceived the micro catchments to be effective for survival of trees and conservation of soil moisture with a higher preference for micro basins. Variables such as land size, perception of water scarcity as a problem, labor availability had a significant influence on farmers’ perception of micro catchments. Further results showed that access to extension information, fencing of trees for protection, number of land parcels, previous use of soil and water conservation methods significantly influenced adoption of the micro catchments. A low survival rate was observed for all the three tree species (<30%) after 36 months in the three treatments. The highest tree mortality rate occurred between the sixth and twelfth months, this was mainly attributed to soil moisture deficit. Trees that had survived beyond 18 months survived up to 36 months. Farmers, perceptions further revealed that the high rate of tree mortality was not only as a result of water scarcity but also due to damage from free-grazing livestock and insect attack. The study concluded that in spite of the positive perception towards micro catchments, these structures may fail to adequately address the problem of low tree survival rate and this may limit their adoption. Therefore, efforts to enhance tree survival should be responsive to all constraints of tree survival and holistic approaches implemented to address the challenges. The study recommends further research into both biophysical and social-ecological factors that affect tree survival, and apt post-planting tree management practices suitable in the area mainly focused on the early stages of tree establishment.