THE INFLUENCE OF AGROFORESTRY PRACTICES ON ENVIRONMENT, A CASE OF MAAI MAHIU, NAKURU COUNTY.
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An estimated 1.2 billion rural people in the developing world currently practice and benefit
from agroforestry. Agroforestry is the deliberate integration, in space or time, of woody
perennials with herbaceous crops and/or animals on the same land management unit. With
only 8 percent of the land capable of being cultivated for crops and 75 percent of the Kenyan
workforce engaged in agriculture, Kenyan farmers face growing problems of soil erosion,
deforestation, water pollution, and desertification.
In Maai Mahiu Division, the environment and the natural resources have been degraded and
destroyed through deforestation, desertification, poor farming practices and overgrazing. The
land has been left bare and susceptible to wind and soil erosion. Therefore, the research
sought to find out the influence of agroforestry practices carried out in the area on the
environment. The objective of the study was to find out the influence of alley cropping, wind
breakers, Silvopasture, tree farming and live fences on the environment.
The methodology of the research highlights how the study was carried out. The study used
survey design to collect quantifiable information from the sample. The target population was
500 people who were practicing agroforestry in Maai Mahiu Division. The sample population
was 10% of the target population which was 50 respondents. The research tools for data
collection used were questionnaires and observation schedules. The collected data was coded
and analyzed using the STATA data analysis software.
The data has been presented in a descriptive form with the aid of tables and numerical data.
The most common agroforestry practice is life fences with 100% and their major role is to
provide security in the area and ornamental. The wind breakers are practiced by 96% and the
main role is to break the wind as the area experiences very strong winds. Alley cropping
follows with 68% and its role is to improve soil fertility. The Silvopasture practice had 56%
and the role is to provide feeds for the livestock and to control soil erosion. The least practice
in the area is tree farming where only 46% are practicing and their role is to provide
firewood, timber and as a source of income. The major challenges with agroforestry in the
area are inadequate rainfall causing the trees to dry and inadequate knowledge on the
agroforestry practices, kinds and other vital benefits.
The study has made some recommendations which will help to curb some of the challenges
in the area. First, the government in collaboration with other stakeholders should empower
the communities in the area in order to promote tree farming so as to prevent deforestation
and degradation of forests for firewood and timber. Secondly, the communities should be
empowered on water harvesting structures during the rainy seasons for use during the dry
seasons. Thirdly, the capacity of the communities should be built on agroforestry practices,
kinds and the benefits so that the communities utilize all the practices effectively. Lastly, the
extension services on agroforestry practices should be increase so that the farmers can be
given hands on practical on how to carry out agroforestry.