Sustainable land management practices and income diversification among rural cassava-based and yam-based smallholder farmers in Imo State
The purpose of this study was to analyze the sustainable land management practices and income diversification strategies among rural cassava-based and yam-based smallholder farmers in Imo State, Nigeria, using cost-route data on a sample of 120 farmers. Descriptive statistics, Sustainable Land Management Index (SLMI), t-test and binary probit model. The results showed that all the cassava-based farmers adopted mixed and intercropping (100.00%), mulching (95.00%) and compost and farm manure (96.67%). While majority of yam-based farmers adopted mixed and intercropping (98.33%), mulching (91.67%) and compost/farm manure (90.00%). Majority of the cassava-based (61.67%) farmers combined on-farm and non-farm activities as a diversification strategy, with a mean monthly income of ₦52,335.33k; while majority of yam-based farmers (68.33%) combined on-farm, off-farm and non-farm activities as a diversification strategy, with a mean monthly income of ₦71,617.37k. The t-values for the associated income from mixed on-farm and off-farm strategies (-2.112) of cassava-based farmers and mixed on-farm, off-farm and non-farm strategies (-2.226) of yam-based farmers were significant at 5% level. This shows that yam-based farmers earn higher income than cassava-based farmers. The probit analysis showed that mixed on-farm and off-farm strategies of cassava-based farmers has positive and significant influence on sustainable land management practices; while on-farm strategy of yam-based farmers also has a positive and significant influence on sustainable land management practices. Major constraints namely, high labour cost, insufficient land and inadequate supply of organic manure, were common to both groups of farmers, but to slightly varying degrees. Based on the results, sustainable labour-saving land management techniques need to be explored and integrated into cassava and yam production systems and complemented with commercial supplies (markets) of organic manure in the study area. To adopt sustainable land management practices, farmers’ access to arable land and titles should be improved through pragmatic land reform regimes. Further, the labour market participation and income earning capacity of rural women, who dominate cassava production, will be enhance if some targeted rural entrepreneurship programme that incorporate their social roles and responsibilities are put in place.
Keywords: sustainable land management, income diversification, cassava-based, and yam-based