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Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 99–108 | Cite as

Farmers’ Views of Soil Erosion Problems and their Conservation Knowledge at Beressa Watershed, Central Highlands of Ethiopia

  • Aklilu Amsalu
  • Jan de Graaff
In the Field

Abstract

Farmers’ decisions to conserve natural resources generally and soil and water particularly are largely determined by their knowledge of the problems and perceived benefits of conservation. In Ethiopia, however, farmer perceptions of erosion problems and farmer conservation practices have received little analysis or use in conservation planning. This research examines farmers’ views of erosion problems and their conservation knowledge and practices in the Beressa watershed in the central highlands of Ethiopia. Data were obtained from a survey of 147 farm households managing 713 fields during the 2002/2003 cropping season. In-depth interviews and group discussions were also held with the farmers to obtain additional information. The results show that 72% of the farmers reported erosion problems, and they recognized that conservation was necessary. However, they considered erosion to be severe mostly when visible signs – rills and gullies – appeared on their fields. The majority of the farmers believe that erosion could be halted, and they use a range of practices for erosion control and fertility improvement. These include contour plowing (83%), drainage ditches (82%), and stone terraces/bunds (73%). Nevertheless, despite decades of conservation intervention in the area, it appears that most farmers have developed negative attitudes towards externally recommended measures. The research concludes that under the conditions present in the Ethiopian central highlands, soil and water conservation interventions should consider farmers’ conservation knowledge and practices to improve acceptance and adoption of the recommendations.

Keywords

Drainage ditches Ethiopian highlands Farmer perceptions Indigenous knowledge Natural resource management Soil and water conservation Soil erosion Stone terraces 

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Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geography and Environmental StudiesAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Department of Environmental SciencesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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