Land Degradation and Smallholder Farmers’ Response: A Case of Villages in the Southern Parts of Ludewa District, Iringa Region
A cross sectional study was conducted to investigate response of smallholder farmers to land degradation in the southern parts of Ludewa District. The study involved 240 respondents randomly selected from stratified population based on gender and type of village. Besides, focus group discussions were made to gauge farmers’ opinions based on age and gender for sixteen groups, and key informants provided trends of land use. The smallholder farmers’ perceptions on the status of soil fertility varied from one village type to another, where over 70 % of the respondents in the villages that experienced out-migration acknowledged
the decline in soil fertility in their farms compared to less than half (44 %) in those villages that experienced in-migration. Over 50 % of the respondents in all villages attributed the decline of soil fertility to continuous cultivation where less than 30 % of the respondents left their farm fallow for two to five years. To overcome the impact of loss in soil fertility, over 50 % of farmers adopted improved cultivars of cassava, and 12 % adopted new maize cultivars. Over 90 % of new cassava crop cultivars were supplied by farmers. However, only 4.2 % irrigated their rice farms, 28.3 % used animal manure and 8.8 % applied pesticides in their
farms. Based on the findings, it can be concluded that few farmers are accessed by extension services and efforts to restore soil fertility are negligible. The study recommends extension services to enhance its support to smallholder farmers’ initiatives in maintenance of crop cultivars and ensure proper land uses.
Keywords: Adoption of new crop cultivars, improved production practices, land degradation, smallholder farmers, soil fertility, southern parts of Ludewa District.
FACULTY OF AGRICULTURE SOKOINE UNIVERSITY OF AGRICULTURE, MOROGORO, TANZANIA