Rural women’s participation in agro forestry and its implications on a sustainable environment in Nyando district, Kenya
Poverty has led to a deterioration of the rural environment in Nyando District. This study set out to examine women’s participation in agroforestry as a land use approach that can contribute to a sustainable rural environment with a view to recommending appropriate approaches for effective implementation of agroforestry in Nyando District. Research data was obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Relevant Government officials, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBO’s) were interviewed throughout the district. Various questionnaires were administered to selected sample groups and several focus group discussions were conducted.. In addition a physical survey of the whole district was carried out. The Data collected was subjected to several analytical techniques. The study found out that due to historical factors Nyando District has two distinct regions. The settlement schemes with a cash economy and the former “native” reservations with a subsistence economy. This situation continues to be reflected in the people’s way of life to date.Consequently agroforestry in Muhoroni Division is more market-oriented whereas in North East Nyakach it is primarily a subsistence activity. The study established that Agroforestry is widely practiced in the District with fruit tree farming being it’s most widespread form (81.9%) However, the traditional forms of agro forestry are practiced more than the innovative forms.The study also established that agroforestry is practiced extensively but not intensively, while women practice most forms of agroforestry. Cultural practices and beliefs constrain women’s participation in some forms of agro forestry such as live fencing and boundary planting which are associated with land ownership. The Orundu which is a homestead garden is an indigenous practice in which most households in the community are involved (98%). It is the woman’s garden and there she has complete autonomy. The most common activity in the Orundu is cultivation of traditional vegetables. However, the Orundu has potential for agroforestry especially fruit tree growing which is widely practiced in the district. The study concludes that although agroforestry is widely practiced in Nyando District the full potential is yet to be realized. The current District Development Plan (2002 - 2008) for Nyando has selected agro forestry as a priority area for development which is an indication that efforts are being made towards further developing agroforestry. There exists a role for women in agroforestry and this is evident in the level of their participation. It can however be enhanced through mainstreaming gender in agro forestry. The Orundu can be used as a pilot plot to test agroforestry innovations targeting wome.These can later be replicated in the main farm holdings.
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