APOLONIUS KASHARU KATWIJUKYE, WERNER DOPPLER
University of Hohenheim, Institute of Agricultural Economics and Social Science in Tropics and Subtropics, Germany
Decreasing agricultural land is a challenge among developing Countries. This pertains also in Uganda where increasing populations reduced land availability per capita. To cope with shortages, farmers resorted to non-sustainable land use practices that are accelerating land degradation. Consequently, living standards of most farming families have declined as characterised by low incomes. This study therefore, analyses the driving forces behind family resource use changes and decision-making in two zones in Uganda with different soil conservation usage levels. Conservation here refers to use of erosion control structures. Intensive soil conservation zone designates where mulching covers 50% of land and earth bunds used on 40% of it, below these level constitutes low soil conservation. Farming systems methodology is adopted in this study; covering farm level aspects, family decision-making process and linkages between land degradation or mitigation with property rights. Data were obtained from the survey by administering a standardised questionnaire to 100 randomly selected families in two areas representing intensive and low soil conservation zones. Supplementary data were obtained through key person interviews and field observations. Comparative results of land allocation trends in both zones covering last 20 years indicate that crop and pasture hectarages increased rapidly in the two zones, though with higher increases in soil conservation intensive areas. Contrary forests hectarages decreased in both zones indicating that crop and pasturelands increased at the expense of forestland. Worthy noting however is the increasing size of unusable land, a surrogate for land degradation during the same period. This partly explains the apparent low crop yield reported at most farms. Farmers are adopting various measures to improve and conserve the land albeit, differentially. The impact of this is reflected in levels of farm incomes (Ug.Shs) that are 3 times more in intensive zone as compared to low conservation usage locations. This translates further into differentiated total family incomes exceeding 200% in intensive zones when compared with that recorded in low conservation intensity areas. These results attest to the potential of soil conservation adoption on improving living standards of farmers and providing sustainable land management options in face of land use changes.
Keywords: Farm resources, land degradation, land use, living standard, socio-economics, soil conservation, sustainable land management