Southern Forests: a Journal of Forest Science

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Farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards timber out-grower schemes in selected districts of Malawi

Maggie G. Munthali, Simon Mng’omba, Harold Chisale, Joyce Njoloma, Betserai I. Nyoka, Gertrude Sato


Timber out-grower schemes have proved to be one of the most profitable enterprises for rural households. No wonder, several analysts and researchers regard them as an alternative model to avoid problems of displacement and create ‘win-win’ outcomes for both rural communities and private investors in forestry. However, understanding farmers’ knowledge, attitudes and perceptions towards tree out-grower schemes plays a key role in farmers’ adoption of the interventions. This study examined these farmers’ attributes towards out-grower schemes in selected districts of Malawi. Data were collected from 300 farmers who were randomly selected between September and October 2017 through semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions. The results revealed that 82% of the respondents participated in timber out-grower schemes, piloted by WVI and ICRAF. Based on a median score of 4.75 (IQR 4–5), respondents were strongly agreed on their knowledge on timber out-grower schemes as a basis for adopting the intervention. Using the cumulative Cube-root frequency method of stratification, the results revealed that more than half (51%) of the respondents belonged to the high category, and thus had high knowledge of timber out-grower schemes, whereas 32% and 17% had very high and medium levels of knowledge, respectively. The study also revealed that 79.3% of the respondents had a positive attitude towards out-grower schemes. Pearson correlation analysis revealed a positive, significant relationship between marital status (r = 0.081), household size (r = 0.062), education (r = 0.051) and knowledge of the respondents on timber out-grower schemes. A significant positive relationship was also observed between marital status (r = 0.156), household size (0.178), education (0.002), ethnic group (0.151) and attitudes of the respondents towards timber out-grower schemes. However, a negative relationship between knowledge and attitude was revealed (r = −0.534). The study therefore concludes that socio-economic factors, such as gender, education, ethnic group and household size, should be considered in upscaling timber out-grower schemes in Malawi.

Keywords: adoption, contract farming, cumulative cube-root frequency method, forest

Southern Forests 2019, 81(4): 367–375

AJOL African Journals Online