Factors Influencing Farmers to Convert Productive Croplands into Woodlots in Mbeya Rural District, Tanzania

Saumu Jumanne, Cosmas H. Sokoni, Elizabeth Palela-Makawa


Recently, the Mbeya Rural district has experienced land fragmentation and scarcity due to population increase. However, it is paradoxical to see that farmers have been converting productive croplands into woodlots instead of practicing agricultural intensification on their already scarce croplands. This paper contributes to the understanding of changes that are experienced by farmers in Uporoto Highlands by analysing factors that influence them to convert productive croplands into woodlots. The selection of the research area was based on the rate of conversion of croplands into woodlots, and easy accessibility from main roads. A simple random sampling technique was used in selecting 366 farmers for household interviews, while purposive sampling was used to select the research area, key informants, and participant of focus group discussions (FGDs). Field observation and documentary review were also used to complement the collection of data. The paper employed a mixed method approach to capture both quantitative and qualitative data. Quantitative data were analysed with the aid of the IBM SPSS Statistics software, version 21, to allow the generation of descriptive statistics, cross-tabulation functions, and multinomial regression analysis results. Qualitative data were analysed using content analysis. The results suggest that the conversion of productive croplands into woodlots is influenced by market conditions, social/peer influence, institutional factors, nature and characteristics of trees, holding land for future use, farmers’ characteristics and urban to peri-urban expansion. The study recommends that agricultural institutions in the country should create enabling conditions that help farmers convert their productive croplands in a manner that does not threaten food security.

Key words: conversion, productive cropland, woodlots, intensification

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