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Determinants of farmer uptake of effective soil conservation technologies in the central highlands of Kenya

Author: 
James K. Mutegi, Julia N. Ameru, Daniel N. Mugendi, James B. Kung’u and Antony K. Njue
Subject Area: 
Life Sciences
Abstract: 

An on farm study was conducted to determine farmers’ experiences, perceptions and adoption of agroforestry soil conservation technologies in central highlands of Kenya. There were clear indications from earlier studies that appropriate implementation of agroforestry strategies especially on sloping agricultural terrain could reduce soil erosion by over 50%, boost soil fertility and increase crop yields. The concern was finding out what would drive farmers to either adopt or fail to adopt such promising technologies. This study was carried out during implementation of field measurements of impacts of agroforestry contour hedges on the farmer fields in Tharaka Nithi County, in Kenya. It was done through two survey campaigns and a farmer evaluation of effectiveness of established agroforestry soil conservation hedges. Ninety nine percent (99%) of both trial and non-trial farmers confirmed their knowledge of occurrence and effect of soil erosion especially on the sloping agricultural terrains. Their perceptions of characteristic of the best agroforestry species for soil conservation were: species that yield high quality fodder, improves crop production, enhances soil fertility and control erosion simultaneously. Farmers’ perceptions of importance of agroforestry soil conservation hedges varied significantly (P<0.01) with field day attendance and training, land size and average slope of land. A number of variables significantly explained the adoption pattern of agroforestry soil conservation hedges at between 0.1 and 6% level. They were farmers contact with extension agents, education, farm income, livestock ownership, land size, membership to group or cooperative, gender and age. The coefficients for land size, age and access to off-farm income were negative implying an inverse relation between these variables and adoption. We conclude that farmers are likely to adopt technologies that provide multiple benefits. Better policy support for agricultural advisory services, quality inputs, land tenure and innovative financing are necessary for boosting adoption of effective soil and water management technologies.

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