Influence of extension approaches on onfarm tree planting: a case of farmer field schools in Mbeere district, Embu county, Kenya
The objectives of the study were : To establish the influence of participatory technology development as a Farmer Field School extension approach technique on on-farm tree planting by farmers in Mbeere District ; To assess the influence of farmers training as a Farmer Field School extension approach technique on on-farm tree planting by farmers in Mbeere district and To determine the influence of adoption of suitable tree planting systems as a Farmer Field School extension approach technique on on-farm tree planting by farmers in Mbeere District. . The study was carried out using descriptive survey design. The sample size for the study was 300 farmers who were drawn from the four divisions in Mbeere District. The data was obtained from the respondents by the use of questionnaires which were structure based on the objectives of the study and were composed of both closed and open ended questions. The final data was entered into a computer by the use of SPSS and Excel softwares for analysis, presented and interpreted based on the study objectives. The study found that participatory technology development has made the farmers adopted new skills and techniques in tree production and management in their farms. It also found that training as FFS extension approach have provided tree farmers with hands on experience on how to carrying out various experiments during the Farmer Field School (FFS) sessions, make observations, record and analyze their findings and come up with solutions for the problems affecting them. Lastly, the study found that tree farmers in Mbeere district have adopted suitable tree planting systems in their farms to meet their requirement in terms of wood based tree products and ensure agricultural sustainability that maximizes on farm productivity that improves their livelihood. However the farmers’ ability to expand on their tree planting in the district to meet their requirement has been constrained by lack of enough land for expansions as most of them rely on their family lands which can hardly allow massive investment in tree planting.The study recommends that Kenya Forest Service should find ways of encouraging more participation of farmers in FFS training sessions so as to increase tree planting for agricultural land conservation, climatic conditions improvement and ensuring sustainable food security in the district and country as a whole. The trees planted in the farms should not only cater for domestic use but also for commercial needs. The tree farmers should consider acquiring more land outside their ancestral boundaries in order to provide more spaces for tree planting. Finally the government should find better ways of providing incentives to farmers to invest more on tree planting.