Contribution of agroforestry practices to reducing farmers’ vulnerability to climate variability in Rakai district, Uganda

Published on June 21, 2018 | Author: Mabel Nabunya

Agroforestry has been used widely in developing world as a strategy to manage effects of climate variability. However, its contribution to the welfare of farmers in rural communities is not well researched. This study aimed at assessing the contribution of agroforestry practices (AFPs) to reducing the effects that climate variability has on farmers’ welfare, specifically evaluating the impacts of implementation of VI agroforestry project on farmers in Rakai district. Five specific objectives were developed to achieve this and these included; i) assessing climate variability in Rakai over the last 15 years, ii) description of agroforestry practices, iii) Determining farmers’ sensitivity to climate variability, iv) evaluating the roles of AFPs in increasing resilience of farmers to climate variability , and v) assessing the perception of farmers to climate variability in relation to AFPs. To conceptualize the study, literature on vulnerability, agroforestry and climate variability was used. Indicators for measurement were built based on these theories and they included; erosion intensity, fuelwood stock, income, Household (HH) assets, crop yield and diversification of income. Data was collected from VI agroforestry project participants households (VI households) in three parishes of Kirumba in Rakai district and also from a control consisting of non-VI agroforestry project participant households (Non-VI households) with similar socioeconomic background. Assessment of climate data shows that there has been an increase and decrease in rainfall amount and mean annual temperature respectively over the last 15 years.

Four agroforestry systems notably; home gardens, pastoral live fences, coffee plantation crop and woodlots, were identified in Kirumba. VI HH had more land and significantly higher number of trees per hectare (P=0.000). They also had significantly higher agroforestry income (0.0016) and assets such as crop yield per hectare (p=0.0018) and livestock (p=0.0004) and also showed higher fuel-wood sustainability (p=0.003) than their counterparts. Non-VI households, on the other hand, were more diversified in terms of the number of income sources. The soil erosion intensity on the farms of the two farmer groups didn’t differ. Farmers agree that AFPs help in soil erosion control, enhance fuel-wood production and in managing hazards through timber and fruit sales. With the physical attributes that VI households generally possess, they stand a better chance to cope with climate-related hazards such as drought and floods than the non-VI households. It was concluded that agroforestry plays a role in reducing the vulnerability of farmers to climate variability. However, the extent to which this is true is very difficult to determine as both farmer groups have generally low levels of assets such as land and income which restricts tree planting to obtain optimal benefits from agroforestry. Other factors such as tree products’ market dynamics that determine farmers’ decision to plant tree have to be carefully considered by project implementing agencies.

Nabunya, M. (2017). Contribution of agroforestry practices to reducing farmers’ vulnerability to climate variability in Rakai district, Uganda. Master’s Thesis. Department of Forest Sciences, Technische Universität Dresden.
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