Influence of Agroforestry Adoption on Ecosystem Services and Livelihoods among Smallholder Farmers in Machakos County, Kenya
Kinyili, Benjamin Mutuku
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Agroforestry provides a number of ecosystem goods and services. Yet evidence of agroforestry supporting these perceived benefits in rural areas have increased over the last three decades. This study determined influence of agroforestry adoption on ecosystem services and livelihoods for smallholder farmers in Machakos County. The study was conducted using utilized concurrent transformative design where both the qualitative and quantitative data were collected at the same time. The study was based on sample size of 248 households’ selected using stratified, random sampling. Qualitative data were collected using questionnaires and interviews while soil data was collected following standard soil sampling techniques and analyzed in the laboratory for textural characteristics, pH, bulk density and micronutrients. Statistical data were done using chi-square (χ2), binary logistic Model (BLM), ANOVA, t-test and bivariate regression. Agroforestry was adopted by 82% of the respondents in the form of boundary tree planting (73.8%), hedgerow (69.4%), scattered trees in rangeland (51.2%) and alley cropping (37.1%). Age, level of education, household size and non-farm income were significant (P < 0.05). Socio-economic aspects affecting adoption of agroforestry were access to credit, training and inputs were significant (P < 0.05) institutional factors affecting the adoption of agroforestry. Ecosystem services obtained by majority of the households were supporting functions in the form of nutrient recycling and soil formation (81.5%) and regulatory functions in the form of soil erosion, water infiltration and micro-climate regulation (80.8%). Provisioning services was dominated by fuel wood (84%), fruit and nuts (75%), poles (74%) and timber (72%). Total income was higher among adopters of timber, fuel wood, posts/poles and fodder. Adopters also had more money to spend on food, clothing, education, medicine and basic needs. Thus the overall gross revenue was higher among adopters. There were higher net returns above Total Variable Cost (TVC) for the adopters (US$ 346.57) compared to the non-adopters (US$ 94.7), which resulted in positive net returns above Total Cost (TC) for the adopters (US$ 275.77) and positive operational costs above the fixed costs for the non-adopters (US$ 23.9) resulting in higher margins above TVC (%) for the agroforestry adopters (28%) than the non-adopters (12%). The soil physical attributes indicate that the proportion of sand particles was significantly (P < 0.05) higher among non-adopters while the proportion of silt and bulk density in the soil was higher among the adopters. The total nitrogen (TN), total organic carbon (TOC), Ca, Mg, Mn, Cu, Fe, Zn and C/N ratio were significantly improved (P < 0.05) in soils where agroforestry was being practiced. Overall physical and chemical attributes in the soil improved significantly with increasing age in years of agroforestry adoption. The study recommends adoption of agroforestry to maximize ecosystem benefits. However, more training is required for the farmers to enhance their ability and potential to optimize agroforestry practices and new innovations.