Contribution of agroforestry practices to community livelihoods around Mt. Elgon National Park, Mbale District
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Agroforestry practices are associated with many benefits such as providing fuelwood, fodder, fruits, improving farmers’ incomes and soil fertility. However, there is limited understanding of the contribution of agroforestry practices towards livelihood improvement around the slopes of Mt. Elgon National Park, Mbale district and in particular Wanale sub-county. The general objective of this study was to create an understanding of the contribution of agroforestry practices to community livelihoods in Wanale sub-county, Mbale district. The specific objectives were; to identify and describe agroforestry practices; to assess the factors for the prevalence of agroforestry practices and to assess the contribution of agroforestry practices to community livelihoods in Wanale sub-county. Data were collected by administering semi-structured questionnaires, conducting focused group discussions; key informant interviews and observations during transect walks. Quantitative data was analyzed with the use of percentages, cross-tabulation and Chi-square while qualitative data was organized and interpreted thematically. Results indicated that the most commonly practiced agroforestry system was Agrosylvopastoral (78.4%), with trees on bunds (57.8%) being the most dominant distribution pattern of AF trees in the field. Ficus natalensis and Cordia africana among the natives, Grevillea robusta and Persea americana among the Exotics were the most preferred tree species for improved livelihood conditions in Wanale Sub-County.AF practices were prevalent in the area because; farmers mostly owned small land sizes (1-5 acres) which does not allow them to separate the three components on individual plots, the tree- shade loving Arabica coffee was the major cash crop grown , the steep terrain in the area created more need to plant trees for runoff control and contour support, AF training received together with free seedling supply motivated farmers to practice AF and the traditional knowledge possessed by farmers about intercropping enabled them to practice AF with ease. Agroforestry practices contributed less to income improvement (8.6%) and timber production (6.7%). Farmlands mostly provided fuelwood (14.9%) and fruits (11.2%) for household consumption and (10%) fodder needs for animals especially in dry seasons. For the environmental services, AF trees mostly provide shade for coffee (13.9%) followed by soil erosion control (12.4%) contour support (12.1%) and wind protection (10.3%).