Adoption of Melia (Melia Volkensii, Gürke) by Farmers in Makueni County, Kenya
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Selective logging of hardwood species in the natural woodlands of Eastern Kenya has led to a drastic decline of hardwood species available for building and construction in the region. One of the species immensely affected is Melia volkensii, Gürke (Meliaceae, Mahogany family) a hard wood, fast maturing species indigenous in Eastern Kenya, whose wood fetches high market prices. Through agroforestry, its adoption has been promoted by government and non-governmental organizations, to restore it as well as fill in the rising demand for hardwood timber. Establishment and management of Melia volkensii to maturity and harvesting requires high investment capital. The rewards are long-term as the tree takes 10-15 years to maturity for timber harvesting. The study therefore hypothesizes that household’s income level influences its adoption. Households with higher income are more likely to invest in M.volkensii compared to low-income households. The objectives of the study were to investigate the agroforestry practices in which M.volkensii was adopted, to assess the role of household income levels in adoption and to investigate the major challenges facing its adoption. The study was conducted in Kibwezi subcounty, Makueni county, which was purposively selected due to high number of M.volkensii growers compared to other counties. Descriptive research design was employed. Through random sampling, a sample of 120 households of M.volkensii adopters and 80 non-adopters was identified. Data was collected through a semi-structured questionnaire administered to an adult or adult equivalent in each household. The data was analysed using SPSS and Ms. Excel. A logit regression was used to determine the characteristics that influenced adoption of Melia. On agroforestry practices, intercropping and household planting were the most preferred practices by 80% and 71% of the respondents respectively. ANOVA test on the mean number of trees in the different practices was significant (p=0.00), with woodlots holding the greatest number of trees. The results showed that household income level significantly influenced adoption (p=0.00). The challenges faced during adoption were lack of capital, unavailability seedings, lack of information, labour demand and competition with crops. Log regression was conducted on factors affecting adoption showed that the significant factors were gender and education of the household head, household size, farm size, access to credit, household income and distance to the nearest market center. The study concluded that the preferred x agroforestry practices for M.volkensii were intercropping for timber and homestead planting for seed production, hence recommends interventions such as trainings, fit for these practices. Household income level influenced adoption; thus, the study recommended provision of affordable credit to encourage adoption. On the challenges, the study recommended strengthening farmer groups and resource centers so that information is easily available and training farmers on seed production and nursery management.