Evaluating farmers’ perception on soil erosion and management of physical soil and water conservation measures in southwest Ethiopia
Keywords:crop yield, Productive safety net program, sustainability; incentive , repairing conservation structure , soil bunds
Land degradation is one of the major challenges affecting soil quality and food security. To control erosion, soil and water conservation (SWC) measures such as bunds are implemented. However, farmers’ perceptions of erosion and management of introduced SWC measures are poorly documented. Therefore, this study is aimed to assess the farmers´ perception, adoption, and management of physical SWC in the Fanta watershed, southwest Ethiopia. Data were collected by interviewing 128 randomly selected households from three kebeles (lowest administration unit), which were beneficiaries of the Productive Safety Net program that incentivizes SWC activities in the region. In addition, focus group discussions were carried out. Results showed that 75% of farmers categorized soil erosion on their farmland as severe, and 40% of farmers experienced gullies. As a result, the majority of the farmers (87%) believe that there is a decline in soil fertility. Farmers (~66%) practice traditional techniques such as short following and diversion ditch to control erosion. After the construction of government-supported physical SWC measures such as soil bunds, in the past ten years, 66% of the farmers observed a decrease in soil erosion, and 93% of the farmers perceived improvement in soil fertility. However, 38% of the farmers do not repair the constructed SWC measures expecting external incentives. Age of farmers had a negative association, while education level, the slope of the field, training, and extension service had a positive effect on the adoption and management of physical SWC conservation measures. Without soil bunds, soil fertility decreases, but the adoption and management of conservation measures are under incentive syndrome. In the study watershed, continued awareness creation activities could enhance farmers' participation and commitment to the adoption and repair of physical SWC measures.
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