Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Smallholder farmers’ decision making in farm tree growing in the highlands of Ethiopia

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  • Past afforestation programs launched to promote private and community woodlots in rural Ethiopia have not been based on clear understanding of the incentives and constraints of smallholder farmers. This study investigated the characteristic differences between tree-growing and non-tree-growing farm households and identified factors influencing farmers’ tree-growing decisions from a farming systems perspective in two highland regions of the country. The analysis was based on a survey of 150 household heads in each of the mixed cereal-livestock and the cereal-enset-coffee-livestock farming systems of Basona Werena and Sodo Zuriya woredas, respectively. A logistic regression model was employed to analyze the determinants of the farmers’ initial decisions of growing trees. Using the tree-growing household data, a linear regression model was employed to identify determinants of the extent of tree growing once the farmer has decided to grow trees. Results indicated significant differences between tree-growing and non-tree-growing households. Relative to non-tree-growing households, tree-growing households were found to have higher human capital, more physical assets and income. Our study identified that gender of the household head, farmers’ training, size and productivity of landholding, household income, proximity to a road, and tenure security were strong determinants of farmers’ tree-growing decisions. We found that femaleheaded households were less likely to grow trees than male-headed households. Femaleheaded households also owned fewer trees per household than male-headed households and the difference was significant in the cereal-enset-coffee-livestock farming system of Sodo Zuriya. The impact of landholding size was consistently positive on farmers’ initial tree growing decisions as well as on the number of trees grown in both sites. A positive perception of land tenure security was also positively and significantly associated with the number of trees planted. The results suggest the need for appropriate policies and extension programs that are aimed at addressing the specificity of female farmers, improving the productivity and reducing the fragmentation of land, and strengthening the security of tenure in order to encourage tree growing by smallholder farmers.
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