Assessment of Farmers' Perception of Land Degradation and Coping Strategies in Yobe State, Nigeria
International Journal of Contemporary Research and Review
I n t e r n a t i o n a l J o u r n a l o f C o n t e m p o r a r y R e s e a r c h a n d R e v i e w ABSTRACT The study was conducted between December 2019 -February 2020 in Nguru, Potiskum and Gujba Local Government Areas of Yobe state, Nigeria with sole aim of assessing farmers' perception of land degradation and coping strategies in the state. Descriptive Survey design involving both quantitative and qualitative methods using structured questionnaire and Focused Group Discussions was
... cussions was adopted. A total of 110 farmers were sampled using Purposive and Convenient techniques. Respondents' demographic data revealed that the majority of the respondents were uneducated male youth with good years of experience in farming practicing non-mechanised rain fed commercial farming with vast farmlands. Crops commonly grown were corn (Zea mays), groundnut (Arachis hypogeae), maize (Zea mays), beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), sesame (Sesamum indicum) and sorghum (Sorgum bicolor) and commonly observed forms of land degradation included wind erosions, soil nutrient depletion, loss of soil fertility, loss of vegetation cover and break down of soil structure. Other forms of land degradation peculiar to some of the studied places were bio-invasion and salinization in Nguru and serious water erosion in Potiskum. The most common unsustainable farming practices identified included deforestation, bush burning, mono-cropping, increased tillage, continuous cultivation, indiscriminate use of fertilizer and other agrochemicals. The farmers' perceptions on the causes of land degradation were not more different and included deforestation, bush burning, natural causes, continuous cropping etc. while its indicators according to the farmers' perceptions included loss of soil fertility, poor crop yield etc. The farmers also believed that the major impacts of land degradation were reduced crop yield which translates into increased poverty among farming communities. With regards to the possible solutions to land degradation, the farmers believed that measures such as shifting cultivation, reforestation, stopping bush burning, mulching, use of organic manure, application of inorganic fertilizer etc. were adopted by the farmers. Besides, to cope with the impacts of droughts and delayed rains, the farmers usually practice early planting and use of improved seeds especially drought resistant seeds. Based on the outcome of the study, it was concluded that despite being fully aware of the environmental impacts of some farming practices such as bush burning, farmers in these areas still engage in many unfriendly farming practices probably due to poverty, culture or ignorance. Hence, it was against this background that a strong recommendation was proffered that special laws and regulations should be enacted to tackle human induced agricultural land degradation.