Contribution of Agroforestry Practices to Land Management in Buyanja Subcounty, Rukungiri District
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The association of trees, agricultural crops and animals in a farming system is an ancient practice in the form of shifting cultivation. Significant declines in soil fertility have been observed worldwide as a consequence of land degradation with reducing productivity of the land and increasing food insecurity among local communities. This study was carried out in Buyanja Sub-county, Rukungiri District to investigate the contributions of agroforestry systems to land management. The specific objectives were to identify the agroforestry systems practiced, assess the benefits that farmers derive from practicing the agroforestry systemsand determine the socio-economic factors that influence farmers to practice the agroforestry systems and to document the benefits of agroforestry systems to land management. The study adopted an exploratory research design involving qualitative and quantitative data. A sample size of 140 farmers was selected for the study. Data on demographic characteristics of the respondents was analyzed using SPSS (Statistical Packages for Social Sciences version 2020) and a multiple regression in STATA was used to assess the social economic factors influencing the agroforestry systems practiced by farmers. Results from the study indicated that farmers practiceAgrisilvicultural, Agrosilvopastoral and Silvopastoral systemspracticed by 55%,31% and 14 % respectively. The major benefits derived from practicing Agrosilvopastoral system were;improved food production (27%), improved farmer income (21%) and improved food security (17%). Major benefits derived from practicing Agrisilvicultural system were; soil conservation and fertility improvement (12%) and improved fuelwood security (6%). Major benefits derived from practicing Silvopastoral system were; watershed improvement (5%) and livestock benefits (2%). The choice of agroforestry system practiced by farmers is significantly determined by the education level of respondents, household decision making, family size, access to information, adequacy of finance, land tenure, and the level of dependence on wood fuel, where overall p-value = 0.000 is < α = 0.05. The study further revealed that agroforestry contributes significantly to land management through soil erosion control (19 %), improved soil fertility (18), increased food and feed production (18%) among others. Therefore, there is need to put emphasis on mobilizing farmers to join groups or farmer associations to enable them have better access to credit for supporting agroforestry practices. This is because most financial institutions prefer providing credit to farmers in groups than individual farmers in order to avoid defaulting.