An evaluation of the impact of Agroforestry on the livelihoods of rural people: a case study of farmers in the East Gonja District (Ghana)

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A study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of agroforestry on rural people in the East Gonja District between January and July 2001. The objectives were to identify the organizations involved in agroforestry in the district and the roles they play, the agroforestry practices adopted by farmers and the benefits derived, the problems encountered by the organizations and farmers, as well as suggest appropriate solutions to them. A three-stage random sampling design was used in the data collection. At the first stage, the district was divided into ten zones, and five zones randomly selected for study. Three communities were chosen at random in each zone at the second stage, while the third stage involved randomly selecting ten farmers in each community for interview using structured questionnaires. Chiefs and other community leaders, as well as organizations involved in Agroforestry activities in the District were also interviewed. Descriptive statistics (pie charts, histograms, cumulative curves, bar charts, etc.) were used to analyze the data. Twenty-one organizations were identified as being involved in agroforestry in the district and they had several reasons for their involvement, including environmental and financial benefits. Their roles included awareness creation, provision of financial and technical support, provision of breeding stock of animals, seeds and seedlings of crops and trees respectively. Public education, establishment of nurseries and agroforestry farms were the approaches used by the organizations. It was observed that levels of awareness and adoption of agroforestry practices among farmers were 85% and 76% respectively. The agroforestry practices adopted by the farmers were shifting cultivation, boundary planting, multipurpose woodlots, improved fallows, windbreaks, home gardens, living fences, scattered trees on cropiands and shelter belts. The crops, tree species and livestock selected by farmers were basically for environmental and economic reasons as well as to solve the problem of scarcity of fuel wood, among others. The general impact of agroforestry on their livelihoods of the farmers was identified as: increase in and diversification of incomes; improvement in food production; improvement in nutritional value; payment of wards’ school fees; improvement in health; ability to marry (payment of dowries, etc); protection of water bodies (streams, rivers, etc) and improvement in environmental quality. Some of the identified problems militating against agroforestry in the district included bushfires, drought, floods, insufficient funds/capital, logistics/working tools, land tenure, low manpower/labour, diseases/pests, loan repayment/recovery, market for tree products, theft, damage by animals, misconceptions/superstitions, communal ownership, soil conditions, and long rotation period of trees. Based on these, it is recommended that, in order to make agroforestry activities in the district more effective, there is the need for all the stakeholders, especially the Government and the organizations to intensify public education and awareness creation among farmers and the communities on the importance of agroforestry and how to tackle the problems associated with its practices, as well as make available more funds to cater for some of the main stumbling blocks such as lack of or insufficient logistics/working tools and low manpower/labour.
A thesis submitted to the School of Graduate Studies, kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Master of Science degree in Agroforestry, 2002