Farmers' Perception and Determinants of Land Management Practices
Viet Nam is one of the poorest countries in the world with a GNP per capita of about US$400.
The population grew from 57 million in 1987 to 80 million in 2002 and is projected to reach 92-95 million in 2010, creating a high population density. Viet Nam is largely a rural agricultural economy with 75% of the population living in rural areas. Two-third of the population is currently dependent on agriculture for living. (Le Quoc Doanh, et al., 2004).
Since 1986, when Vietnam shifted to the state oriented market economy, The Vietnamese economy has developed relatively fast, with an annual growth rate of GDP of about 7% but in return we have to face with many environmental problems.
Vietnam has a total area of 33.2 million hectares with 14 soil groups and 31 soil units, of which more than 50% is considered as “problem soils” in terms of fertility and productivity.
Vietnam has suffered from a series of negative problems of soil environment: Erosion, leaching, soils with low fertility and imbalance nutrition, salinization, acidification, pollution, deforestation, deposit, droughts, water logging, organic degradation, land slide, erosion of river bank and coastline, poor cropping patterns, lost productivity etc. Soil deterioration is rapidly increasing both in its speed and seriousness. This is common in many large areas, especially in mountainous areas that account for 3/4 of total natural land where ecological balance is disturbed more seriously than other areas. Consequences of land degradation in Vietnam are very serious. Especially it leads to the depletion of fauna and flora, loss of land productivity and drastic reduction of agricultural land per capita (APRSAF-15, 2008).
These problems are often caused by the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides and a lack of appropriate infrastructure to treat pollutants and sewage water properly. Such environmental problems have seriously affected the rural environment (Le Quoc Doanh, et al., 2004).
Land use change, the physical change in land cover caused by human activities such as agriculture and silviculture, is a common phenomenon associated with population growth, market development, technical and institutional innovation, and related rural development policy. Changes in land use can have various consequences on economic growth, the level and distribution of income, and on natural resources such as biodiversity, ecosystems, water, and soils. Land use change leads to change in-and is influenced by-socio-economic indicators such as agricultural productivity, wealth, and human capital. A better understanding of the complex interactions of these changes over time can enable decision makers at various policy levels to design and implement regionally adapted policy interventions which stimulate benefits and counteract negative consequences of land use change by considering the trade-offs among economic, environmental, and social objectives in the process of sustainable rural (Daniel Muller, Manfred Zeller 2002).
Different scholars define land degradation in different ways. Land degradation is a composite term; it has no single readily-identifiable feature, but instead describes how one or more of the land resources (soil, water, vegetation, rocks, air, climate, relief) has changed for the worse. (Michael Stocking & Niamh Murnaghan.,2000). According to FAO Land degradation generally signifies the temporary or permanent decline in the productive capacity of the land.
Another definition describes it as, "the aggregate diminution of the productive potential of the land, including its major uses (rain-fed, arable, irrigated, rangeland, forest), its farming systems (e.g. smallholder subsistence) and its value as an economic resource." This link between degradation (which is often caused by land use practices) and its effect on land use is central to nearly all published definitions of land degradation. The emphasis on land, rather than soil, broadens the focus to include natural resources, such as climate, water, landforms and vegetation. The productivity of grassland and forest resources, in addition to that of cropland, is embodied in this definition.
There are six forms of land degradation: soil erosion, nutrient depletion, deforestation, siltation, salinization, and water logging. Soil erosion is a process that describes human induced phenomena, which lower the current and /or future capacity of the soil to support human life. In a general sense, soil degradation could be described as the deterioration of soil quality or the partial or entire loss of one or more functions of the soil (Oldeman et al., 1991).
According to Michael Stocking & Niamh Murnaghan,(2000) the most frequently recognized main causes of land degradation include:
(i) overgrazing of rangeland;
(ii) over-cultivation of cropland;
(iii) water logging and salinization of irrigated land;
(iv) deforestation; and
(v) pollution and industrial causes.
Within these broad categories a wide variety of individual causes are incorporated. These causes may include the conversion of unsuitable, low potential land to agriculture, the failure to undertake soil conserving measures in areas at risk of degradation and the removal of all crop residues resulting in 'soil mining' (i.e. extraction of nutrients at a rate greater than resupply). They are surrounded by social and economic conditions that encourage land users to overgraze, over-cultivate, deforest or pollute.
Soil deterioration in Vietnam is rapidly increasing both in speed & seriousness, especially in mountainous areas. Consequences of land degradation in Vietnam are very serious, lead to depletion of fauna & flora, loss of land productivity & reduction of agricultural Land per capita. Several policies and programs/ projects to combat land degradation are being implemented in Vietnam, but combating desertification, land degradation, especially in dry land is a long & complex process. It needs a close cooperation, collaboration of all relevant local stakeholders, Vietnam government & international organizations to implement successfully National Agricultural Policy, the program with multi- sector & multi- disciplinary characteristics. (Tran Viet My,2008).
Assessing of the physical processes and changes in the natural resources as well as the management system used by the local community is worthwhile. Vietnam in general and study area in particular is known for severe natural resources degradation. To maintain the land degradation problem, efforts have been done to promote different land management practices from within and outside the area. However, for different reasons the adoption rate of the land management practices is minimal. Even little attempt has been done to identify and document the physical, social, institutional and economic determinants of adoptions of the land management practices, and the role of peasants' perception in the adoption decisions.
Hence, this study tries to assess farmers' perception of land management practices and identify factors, which determine farmers' decisions on adoption of compost, fertilizer and rough tillage. Such explanatory factors include household socio-economic variable (age, education and sex of the household head, type of crop grown, farm size, livestock ownership, off and non-farm employment); institutional factors (access to extension service, access to credit and tenure arrangement); and physical factors (topography, perceived degradation, water logging and gully problems of the plot according to insiders view).
Objectives of the Study
The purposes of the study are to assess farmers' perception of land management practices and to identify socio-economic, institutional and physical factors that affect adoption of introduced land management practices. The specific objectives of the study are to:
1. Assess perception of farmers' about indigenous and introduced land management practices.
2. Identify social, institutional, economic and physical factors that affect adoption of introduced land management practices.
This study attempted to address the following research questions:
1. What is the perception of farmers about indigenous and introduced land management practices?
2. What are the physical, socio-economic and institutional factors that affect farmers' introduced land management practices adoption decision?
Significance of the Study
Land degradation in the Vietnam highlands has contributed to low agricultural productivity; extreme poverty and food insecurity. To reverse the situation, efforts have been made in promoting different land management practices from within and outside the area. There is a sense of urgency in the country to improve livelihoods of the destitute mass. Sustainable livelihood improvement cannot be achieved without proper natural resources management. However, there is information gap between policy makers, development practitioners and farmers in the grass root during the process of agricultural technology promotion. To this end, understanding farmers' perceptions of land management practices and determinants of adoption plays a leading role.
To this extent this study is believed to provide information for sustainable land management by the development planners in the region
More than 30 ethnic groups are now living in northern mountainous regions, Vietnam, mainly relying on shifting cultivation with the fallow period being shortened from time to time. Naturally, soil fertility reduces from cycle to cycle, entailing the reduction of productivity. Large areas of moderately sloping lands suitable for upland agriculture have become bare after many cultivation-fallow cycles. The soils there have been severely degraded with more toxicity, low porosity, low water retention capacity and poor floral diversity. Normally, these lands cannot be used for food crop cultivation. So farmers in uplands have to rely on slash-and-burn practices for their livelihood. As there is no more forest with good soil in medium slopes, farmers go to cut forests in watershed, high slope lands and old forests up to the mountains' top. There are ecologically and environmentally very sensitive areas, so their destruction will inevitably cause hazardous consequences in the whole basin. Meanwhile, cultivation in these areas has low economic efficiency and sustainability because the crop yield may decrease very fast due to severe erosion as the higher the slope, the more serious erosion. Consequently living standards of highland farmers remain low and unstable.
Sustainable farming on these lands in the perspective of a seriously deteriorated ecology and environmental is not an easy task. There have been many projects trying to help mountainous farmers get out of their vicious circle. However, due to different reasons, the results gained are low, and in some cases, things ceased to move after the projects phased out.
During past few years, based on the farmer experiences, the Vietnam Agricultural Science Institute has cooperated with local and international partners to implement different projects in order to solve the problems by developing simple, easy and cheap cultivation technologies, which can be accepted and applied by local poor farmers for sustainable agricultural production. The first results of our activities offered good opportunities for sustain food production, improve soil health, recharge of aquifers, and enhanced household income for better rural lively hoods in the upland eco-regions of northern Vietnam. (Le Quoc Doanh,2004).
Indigenous land management practices
According to studies from Ethiopia by Tesfaye (2003), land management is a result of a continuous adaptation of the environment to meet the needs of the community. These adaptations involves: controlled livestock husbandry and irrigated system based on flood harvesting, integrated soil and water conservation practice includes stone terraces, tied ridges, thrash line, agro forestry, intercropping, fallowing, manuring, burning of debris, minimum tillage and commercial fertilizer.
FAO (2001) furthermore pointed out that, traditional land management systems are based on the availability of sufficient land to allow long fallow periods to maintain soil fertility, when there is no more access to new land, the fallow land has to be used and soil fertility falls.
Introduced land management practices
Land shortage and fragmentation have increasingly forced farmers to abandon land management practices such as fallowing, manuring, terracing and using crop residue. Unless farmers used other sources of nutrients, the disappearance of these traditional practices will have a considerable impact on soil fertility. One option would be to integrate the livestock and cropping systems more closely, maximizing the use of crop residues, and providing more manure. Mineral fertilizers are other possible sources of nutrients although expensive. However, farmers need to recognize that organic and mineral fertilizers should be used to complement, and not to replace each other (Corbeels et al., 1997).
In philosophy, psychology, and the cognitive sciences, perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information. Perception is one of the oldest fields in psychology( Wikipedia).
The adoption of an innovation is the step a user takes as he or she accepts and integrates the new product, idea, or service into their daily life. It refers to the uptake of an innovation by individuals in a social system (Leeuwis, 2004). The conceptualization of innovation diffusion across the landscape holds that adoption is primarily the outcome of a learning or communication process (Hagerstrand cited in Browna, 2001).
In traditional agriculture, changes in land management take place as part of the process of agricultural change. Some changes in land management are broad, such as those induced by national policy actions, while others are specific as those at field- level, where concrete decisions on crop choices, investment, adoption of technologies etc are implemented. Land management change drives the process of agricultural transformation and decisions concerning them are taken in the context of a definite set of constraints depending on the resource endowment of each particular manager (Ehui et al., 2004). Therefore, we take to study land management at plot level, since it provides a point of entry for tracing the relationships between broad and specific field-level changes that affect livelihoods of a large majority of smallholder farmers.
In analyzing the decision behavior of farmers, different researchers have been using different techniques to relate the decision to use and the effect of the determinants supposed to affect it.
These techniques range from the use of descriptive statistics, with its weakness in predicting the combined effects of explanatory variables on the dependent variables, to the use of logit, probit and tobit models, which give greater reliability, with more sophisticated statistical techniques (Feder et al., 1985).
The data on input or practice use indicate what type of input are used, but not how much of each input is used. Binary models are the more suits to analyze the determinants of whether each type of input is used on a particular parcel under a particular land use in a particular year.
The explanatory variables could be studied at community, household, plot levels and prior land investment (Ehui et al., 2004).
Conceptual Framework of the Study
Land management decisions are determined by many factors operating at different scales (plot, household, village, region, national, and international). Many of these factors influence land management directly; for instance, the type of soil, topography of the land and the climate will have a large impact on whether soil erosion is likely to be a problem and what options are feasible to address it. Demographic and socio-economic factors -such as population density, access to markets, and the level of local prices of inputs also influence land management
Farm-level decision making must be considered as most important in any attempt to understand why land users act the way they act. It should be recognized that decisions about land management are taken by a broad variety and combinations of social actors. Certain land use management practices require collaboration not only between individuals and households, but also between communities and some require support from local state structure through public expenditure. The degree of collaboration by each actor largely depends on how the problem is perceived. Many resource poor farmers may perceive land degradation as a low priority problem relative to subsistence of basic needs in the short run, and actions following this perception may cause significant and increasing degradation related problems (Ayalneh, 2002).
Time schedule: for field research
Planning of qualitative
research on field, further
surveys, design of
Pre-tests of survey interview
Field survey and Data collection (Conducting interviews, focus groups
Cleaning, Analysing of data
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