The objective of this household-based study was to explore factors that affect the adoption of agroforestry (AF) technology in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Contrary to what is known about most of the countries in the Southern African (SADC) region, the practice of agro forestry (AF) is not well developed in South Africa. This problem is directly related to the dualistic nature of the agriculture sector in the country, and this fact has led to bias against smallholder farmers. The Eastern Cape Province was selected for the study due to its vast potential for agricultural development in general, and AF practices in particular. Quantitative data was collected from Tsolo and Lusikisiki Magisterial Districts of the Eastern Cape Province by use of a pre-tested, validated and standardized questionnaire. In addition to quantitative data, qualitative data was gathered by use of in-depth interviews and personal observations. The design of the study was cross-sectional, descriptive and co-relational. The sample size of study was 300 households. Simple random sampling was used as a sampling technique. Sampling frames were obtained from Statistics South Africa for the purpose of selecting eligible households for the survey. Quantitative data analysis was performed by using statistical methods; such as cross-tab analysis, logit regression, and log-linear analysis.
The rationale of the study is that a significant proportion of the South African population (close to 38%, according to World Bank Report 2012) live in rural part of the country from which 72% live below the poverty line. The Eastern Cape is one of the poorest provinces of the country. The study was aimed at the promotion of AF technology as a means of alleviating poverty and promoting sustainable development among the rural population. A review of the literature shows that AF can contribute for sustainable rural development in South African provinces where the predominant means of livelihood is rural subsistence farming and agriculture. AF technologies comply with environmental guidelines while enabling subsistence and small-scale farmers to improve their yield per plot of land. As such, the broader theme of the study was about the effective utilization of natural resources for the promotion of AF technologies among rural farmers. Although AF technology has been shown to have the potential for improving productivity and livelihood among rural farmers in most of the World’s developing nations, very little effort has been made in South Africa irrespective of the vast potential of AF technologies. The survey was aimed at drawing attention to the potential of AF technologies in the context of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. The study was based on empirical evidence gathered from households who stand to benefit from the adoption and promotion of AF technologies. The aims and objectives of the study are consistent with the strategic priorities of the South African Department of Agriculture & Forestry and Department Rural Development.
Data were collected on a large number of biophysical, socioeconomic and institutional factors that affect the sub sector. Examples of such factors are economic incentives, quantity of yield, type of plot, size of plot, type of technologies used for improving agricultural productivity, hazardous conditions, environmental factors such as land and soil degradation, overgrazing, overpopulation of herds, farming skills, duration of experience, soil fertility and slope, biophysical conditions, risk and uncertainty, household preferences, resource endowments, and the role of institutions and incentive mechanisms provided to farmers. This study aimed at verifying the veracity of induced-technology theory and diffusion of innovation theory proposed by (Scherr 2002; Rogers 2003; Mercer 2004; and Kabwe 2010). These theories argue that utilization of modern agricultural technologies have the potential for improving agricultural productivity. The study aims to examine the applicability of these theories on the adoption of AF technologies and whether the use of AF technologies has the potential for improving the livelihood of rural subsistence farmers.
The study found that 72.3% of the 300 farmers who took part in the survey adopted and practiced AF technologies. Results obtained from multiple linear regression analysis showed that average household income increased as a function of utilization of AF technologies at the household level (P=0.0000; average amount of increase in household income = 320 Rand out of an average of R1000 household income). Results obtained from logit regression showed that the adoption of AF technologies was significantly influenced by 5 factors among others. These 5 factors were slope of land (odds ratio (OR) =10.329), pace of adoption (OR=5.107), exposure to other agricultural technologies (OR=4.988), farming experience (OR=4.48), and access to credit (OR=2.317), in a decreasing order of strength. Based on findings obtained from the study, a recommendation has been made to the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Agriculture and Forestry, recommending that an economic incentive should be provided to farmers practicing AF technologies by way of improving the quality and coverage of extension work, increasing the amount of credit available to AF users, and by providing door-to-door education to uneducated farmers.
Keywords: Agroforestry, Adoption, Eastern Cape, Smallholder farmers, Logit regression