RURAL FARMERS’ AGROFORESTRY PRACTICES IN IMO STATE, NIGERIA
The study was conducted to assess rural farmers’ agroforestry practices in Imo State, Nigeria. The population for the study comprised all farmers involved in agroforestry practices in Imo state. Four local government areas (LGAs) were selected out of 27 LGAs in the state using simple random sampling technique. From the four LGAs, two town communities were purposively selected based on their involvement in agroforestry practices giving a total of eight town communities. From each of the eight town communities, four village communities were purposively selected because of their involvement in agroforestry practices making a total of 32 village communities. From the list of agroforestry farmers compiled in each of the village communities by extension agent, five farmers were selected using simple random sampling technique. In all, a total of 160 agroforestry farmers constituted the sample size for the study. Data for the study were collected through interview schedule. Percentage, charts, Mean statistics, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), Duncan multiple range test and factor analysis were used in analyzing the data. Results showed that the average age of the farmers was 54 years. Majority (56.7%) of the respondents was male and married (73.1%). The average household size of the farmers was 7 persons. Majority (56.9%) of the farmers got their income from sale of farm products and 35.6% of them engage in trading as their secondary occupation. Majority (68.8%) of the farmers belonged to various organization. About 53% of the farmers had contact with extension agents in the last one year and the average extension contact was 2 times. The average size of land used for agroforestry practices was less than one hectare. Majority (96.9%) of the farmers practiced home gardens. There was an increase in the number of farmers involved in agroforestry practices in the last five years (47.5%). Majority (84.4%) of the farmers planted banana in their farm as the major trree component of agroforestry and majority (98.1%) of farmers cultivated yam as the crop components of the agroforestry practice. The average number of trees planted/protected in the homestead and farmstead varies significantly over the years. There was a decline in the average number of trees planted and/or protected both in the homestead and farmstead from the year 2009 to 2013. The result showed that pruning (87.5%) was the major management strategy used by farmers to maintain their trees while majority (98.8%) of respondents practiced agroforestry to improve soil fertility. Major constraints to agroforestry practices were grouped into knowledge constraints, tree growth constraints and market constraints. The major effective strategy for enhancing agroforestry practices was to increase the awareness of agroforestry practice through training and workshop.