The involvement of women in fuelwood production through Agroforestry interventions: a case study in the Eastern and Volta Regions of Ghana

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The purpose of the study was to find the extent of women’s involvement in fuelwood production through Agroforestry interventions. The study was carried out in the Akuapem North District of Eastern Region (a forest area) and the North Tongu District of Volta Region (a coastal savanna area). The study identified the levels of awareness and adoption of fuelwood production using Agroforestry interventions. Factors influencing adoption of fuelwood production, contribution and impact of governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as constraints to adoption of the technology were also studied. Perceptions of the major stakeholders the farmers — of the future of the fuelwood industry were also determined. The questionnaire-survey method was used to interview a sample of 180 farmers and 5 extension agents for primary data using the multi-stage cluster sampling method. The data were analysed, using frequencies. Association between the dependent variables of adoption of Agroforestry systems and independent variables of geographical location, personal and background characteristics of respondents, situational and farm related factors, economic and communicational factors were determined using the Chi-square test. Strength of association between the dependent and the independent variables were established with the Phi coefficient and Cramer’s V. The SWOT analysis technique was also used to determine the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats to adoption of fuelwood production. All Agroforestry interventions practiced by respondents in the study areas were grouped into two: Modern Agroforestry (MAF) involved the deliberate planting of fruit and non-fruit trees in alley cropping, woodlot, and contour farming. The Traditional Agroforestry (TAF) comprised tending of naturally growing trees on cropland and home gardens. Overall, a very high level of awareness of the indigenous or Traditional Agroforestry (100%) and the introduced Modern Agroforestry — tree planting (98%) was found among respondents in the study areas. However, levels of adoption of both Modern and Traditional systems differed in the two contrasting vegetation zones, in the Volta Region Modern AgroforeStrY (MAF) received a higher adoption (71.2%) and a lower adoption of the Traditional Agroforestry, (12.1%). The converse was seen in the Eastern Region (forest zone) where there was a higher adoption of Traditional Agroforestry (83.3%) and a lower adoption of the Modern Agroforestry (14.6%). The higher felt need for fuelwood, easier access to land, and a more effective extension teaching method using audio-visuals and a higher extension-farmer contact, contributed to the higher adoption of MAF in the Volta Region. Conversely, a comparatively lower need for fuelwood, more difficult access to land, unfavourable inheritance system, and a lower farmer-extension contact, were accountable for the lower adoption of MAF and a higher adoption of the Traditional Agroforestry system — TAF in the Eastern Region. Major reasons for non-adoption in both regions were: lack of felt need for tree planting or tending, lack of preferred tree species, dissatisfaction with some previously introduced tree species such as Leucaena, and difficult access to land particularly in the Eastern Region. The findings indicated that NGOs (ADRA and GhRRM) were the major source of information on Agroforestry and were depended upon by 83.4% of respondents. Several indigenous fuelwood species which were highly preferred for their superior burning qualities but which were not included in the species supplied to farmers were identified. Generally, the majority of respondents (80%) perceived fuelwood as scarce though the level of scarcity was higher in the Volta Region. The geographical location, educational background, household size, gender, income level, land tenure system and respondents’ perception of the complexity of the technology, all had significant association with the adoption of Agroforestry system. There was however no significant association between respondents’ age, ethnicity, years of experience in farming, religion, farm size, social prestige accorded, and number of Agroforestry meetings attended. The respondents (60%) found the extension: farmer ratio of 1:1500-2000 too high, though four (80%) of the five agents were mobile. Again while NGO extension agents spent 60-70% of their time on Agroforestry, MoFA extension agents spent only 10% of their time on Agroforestry due to the fact that they are required to cover all topics in Agriculture. While both NGOs offer incentives to farmers in their Agroforestry programmes, MoFA does not offer anything and makes less impact on the farmers. The SWOT Analysis revealed the following strengths: effective Agroforestry education done by NGOs, easy access to vast expanses of land in Volta Region, and available labour. Weaknesses include unfavourable land tenure system in Eastern Region, poor and difficult to work soils in Volta Region. Opportunities include a ready market for fuelwood in both regions while the major threats include limited access to land especially for settler farmers in Eastern Region, bushfire and erratic rainfall pattern in Volta Region. Based on the findings, the following recommendations have been made: development of a more favourable land tenure system to facilitate fuelwood production, improvement in extension teaching such as use of demonstrations and audio-visuals; conduct of research into indigenous fuelwood tree species to find alternatives to current introduced species, popularisation of fuelwood production as an income generation venture, as farmers perceived the future of tree cultivation as being bright.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Master of Science degree, 2001