The economic value of Acacia karroo in small-scale farming systems and game farming in northern KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: research note
The purpose of the investigation was to examine current knowledge, by local people, of the agroforestry roles and the economic importance that the Acacia karroo tree plays in the farming systems of small-scale farmers and game farming in the Dundee district in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. Interviews were conducted in 111 selected households and game farms using a rapid appraisal approach. Results showed that the entire sample population was aware of the beneficial roles played by Acacia karroo in the agro-ecosystem and had a least one tree in their homestead, field and / or grazing land. The roles identified by the respondents were: providing shelter to people and animals (98%), fodder for game and livestock (96%), fuel (93%), indicator of ";sweet veld"; good soils and good grazing (87%), controlling soil erosion (71%), indicator of water in arid areas (37%), maintaining soil fertility and productivity (36%), dependence of certain butterfly larvae species and birds that feed on these larva (8%) and the use of wood ash to ameliorate soil acidity (4%). Despite the benefits of A. karroo on farms and nature reserves being well appreciated, the deliberate utilisation of this tree for agroforestry purposes is minimal. Due to the prevailing soil acidity problems and extensive land degradation, it is suggested that the tree has potential in agroforestry to change and improve the sustainability and profitability of both agriculture and ecotourism through game farming in the area. It is also acknowledged that for any land use to expand in a sustainable manner, appropriate research and development is imperative. Some suggestions are made on future research.
Key words: Acacia karroo, Economic, Small-scale farming systems, Game farming, Sustainability