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Socioeconomic benefits of shade trees in coffee production systems in Bonga and Yayuhurumu districts, southwestern Ethiopia: Farmers’ perceptions

D Muleta
F Assefa
S Nemomissa
U Granhall


Coffea Arabica is extensively cultivated by households under a variety of shade trees in southwestern Ethiopia. The main purpose of this study was to assess the overall farmers' perception on the benefits of shade trees in coffee production systems in southwestern part of Ethiopia. Semistructured questionnaires were administered to 100 smallscale coffee farmers. In-depth interviews were also made with 10 selected farmers from Bonga and Yayu-Hurumu districts study sites. Farmers’ perspectives were mostly comparable to the documented scientific facts with some noticeable differences. Among shade tree species legumes such as Albizia gummifera, Acacia abyssinica, Millettia ferruginea were highly favoured in that order. A significant number of the study subjects expressed an interest in the further propagation of the seedlings of the most favoured shade trees such as Albizia gummifera (95%), Acacia abyssinica (65%), Millettia ferruginea (55%) and Cordia africana (50%). The respondents strongly stated the serious problems associated with growing coffee without shade tree plants that included stunted growth which ultimately resulted in coffee yield reduction (97.3%) and quick wilting of coffee plants (93.6%). The majority of the respondents hassled other benefits of coffee shade trees such as firewood (96.4%) and honey production (92.7%) followed by improvement of soil fertility (79.1%) and reduction of soil erosion (78.2%). A significant number of farmers (39.1%) expressed their long experience of retaining legumes like Desmodium species in their coffee plots during weeding or clearing. Higher return values and better coffee attributes were generally assigned to shaded coffee systems particularly those dominated by tree legumes. The respondents had excellent knowledge on socioeconomic benefits of shade tree species. However, organic training is believed to minimize knowledge gaps on certain complex and/or unobservable ecosystem processes in the shaded coffee systems to boost the confidence of the farmers in supplying green commodities of premium prices on sustainable basis.

Keywords: intercropping; leguminous plants; organic farming; shaded coffee systems