The Influence of Land Quality on Allocation of Land for Farm Forest in Kenya: The Case of Vihiga County

Joshua K. Cheboiwo, David Langat, Jonah Kiprop, Florence Cherono


Kenya has long history of promoting tree growing on farms for various purposes ranging from  laying claim to property and boundary marking in 1940s to response to socioeconomic drivers such commercial interests through vibrant market for tree products. The Rural Afforestation and Extension Services Division (RAES) started in 1971 was aimed at accelerating tree growing on farms through training of farmers, establishment of tree nurseries countrywide and deployment of extension staff to offer technical services to rural farmers. Farms within agricultural landscapes are not uniform but differ in various forms such as slope, drainage, soil texture, fertility, water holding capacity, stone/rock outcrops and other attributes that impose land quality variation hence influencing their potential uses. The study was therefore undertaken to evaluate the influence of land quality on farm forest land use allocation through use of land quality concept developed by von Thunnen in 1826.  The study was done in one of the highly populated counties in western Kenya, the Vihiga County where farm forests occupies 30% of household land. Samples of 112 households were surveyed in 4 sub-counties. The study mapped quality aspects within households land profile into four categories  gentle,  steep, steep and rocky and flood plain and swampy and intensity of trees in respective category. OLS regression analysis was used to determine the influence of land quality on farm forest land allocations. The results indicate that farm forest allocations was not significantly influenced by poor land quality aspects across the study household lands. This is because the land sizes were very small and farm forests were adopted across the household land profile irrespective of quality aspects. However, households indicated that poor quality lands were preferable for farm forest largely for they were not favourable for crop production. The study observes that farm forests were highly influenced  by high population density and small land sizes that has masked the importance land quality in land use allocation decisions.

Keywords: farm forest, land quality, land use allocation

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