Land evaluation for rainfed agriculture based on farmers' indigenous knowledge: A case study of Mitayana District
A case study was carried out in Mityana District to elicit and document farmers’ indigenous knowledge (IK) of land evaluation. It examined factors considered by farmers to access land suitability, explored inputs farmers consider necessary to bring about the desired level of production for practiced LUTs, and identified major LUTs in the study area that are considered by farmers basing on their IK to be physically, economically and socially possible. It is also compared and contrasted land suitability in terms of crop yield among farmers who rely on IK with minimum inevitable use of conventional knowledge with land suitability under optimum condition. An interview schedule was the main tool for data collection while descriptive statistics were the main analytical technique. Information from 180 randomly selected farmers was collected from three sub-counties and analyzed. Results revealed that farmers have a relatively good knowledge their land in terms of soil quality, potential and limitations for crop production. Farmers consider both biophysical and socio-economic factors for assessing suitability of their land for certain crops. They consider rainfall intensity, soil drainage, soil fertility, mean daily temperature, price/market, farm size, topography and land tenure for determining suitability of their land for certain crops. The most important biophysical factor is rainfall while the most important socio-economic factor is market/price. The most important LUTs that are considered by farmers to be suitable for their fields included: Coffee, banana, maize, and beans. These collate with LUTs allocated to the area under the governments’ plan for zonal agricultural production, indicating that results from IK-based land evaluation is in agreement with results from conventional land evaluation for the study area. The study concludes that small-scale, resource poor farmers have their local knowledge of land evaluation, know their land quite well in terms of soil quality, potential, limitations for crop production and management options. However, to provide more complete and acceptable paradigm of land evaluation, the IK should be complemented with conventional land system.