Assessing the impact of agro-forestry practices on resilience to climate variability among farmers in Rubirizi district. A case study Rutoto sub-county
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Climate variability which is a reality in Uganda and is manifested by fluctuations in climatic parameters, low agricultural production, land fragmentation, soil degradation, and loss of biodiversity. Addressing climate variability requires the use of ecologically based traditional climate smart agriculture systems such as agro forestry. In the past decade human lives, crops and livestock worth millions of shillings have been destroyed by increased intensity of extreme weather events in Uganda. This study therefore intended to examine the impact of agro forestry practices as a resilient mechanism for farmers against the effects of climate variability in Rutoto Sub County, Uganda. The specific objectives were to: (i) characterize the agro forestry techniques practiced by farmers in Rutoto Sub County; (ii) assess the rainfall and temperature variability trends in Rutoto Sub County from 2000 to 2020 and (iii) evaluate the contribution of agro forestry practices and products to households as farmers’ resilience to Climate Variability in Rutoto Sub County. Evaluation research design was used in this study. The sample size involved 140 respondents. Systematic random sampling was used to get farmer households and the parishes for which the study constituted. Three parishes (Ndangaro, Nyabubare and Kashenyi) in Rutoto sub-county were considered in this research because most households and most of the agroforestry practices are concentrated in these areas; Purposive sampling was used to sample relevant organizations which included; Uganda National Meteorological Authority, National Forestry authority, National Agricultural Research Organization and District Agricultural office staff; the study used interview schedules to collect data from officers attached to these organizations. Secondary data was collected from documentary analysis obtained from these offices. Information on different trends in temperature, rainfall, agricultural outputs and potential yields was obtained from these organizations Data collected was subjected to SPSS version 25 application where, descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviations) were generated for all continuous variables while, for categorical variables, frequencies, valid percentages and cumulative percentages were generated to determine if agro forestry practices had significant effects on climate variability and correlation-regression analyses were done to establish relationship(s) between key variables on climate variability and agro-forestry practices. The results revealed that multiple agro forestry practices have been adopted in the study area, they include mixing trees with agricultural crops (7.7%), fruit trees with agricultural crops (6.7%), trees and agricultural crops with animals (20.6%) and agricultural crops with pasture (44.8%) and other agro forestry practices (20.2%) respectively. Agro forestry has contributed to the moderate climatic conditions experienced in the sub county while the increase in temperature is attributed to global warming. The benefits of agro forestry in Rutoto sub county range from planting trees as windbreaks (84.7%) to diversifying agricultural products (33.4%) respectively. These results are useful in understanding the role of agro forestry systems in enhancing farmers’ resilience to climate variability and thereby reducing the level of vulnerability. The results will further assist policy makers in formulating sound policies in matters pertaining to climate variability resilience.