The impact of small-scale farming on the agricultural land resources in Magoye West

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Mweemba, Liberty
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The Magoye West forest Reserve number 50 was not occupied by small- scale farmers before 1980. However, after this period, farmers from surrounding areas started moving in the forest reserve to settle illegally. As the population kept on growing in this area, there was an indiscriminate cutting down of trees for various purposes such as charcoal, timber as well as land expansion for cultivation. The aim of this report is to discuss the impact of small-scale farming on the agricultural Land Resources in Magoye West forest reserve in Southern Province of Zambia.Firstly, forest degradation is stimulated by rapid population growth combined with shifting cultivation (people moving into forest to farm), poorly regulated logging and 'open access' land tenure. Open-access occurs when there is no effective regulation of land use. This allows farmers and other land users to exploit the land, and the resources on it, in an unsustainable manner. Open-access in this area also reduces the motivation for farmers to conserve the land resources since it is not theirs.Secondly, the use of modern farm inputs such as fertilizer was found to be negatively related to the rate of deforestation, suggesting that intensifying agriculture by applying more fertilizer would slow down the rate of deforestation.Thirdly, the average level of education of small-scale farmers in Magoye West is very low.There is a close relationship between education and extension training as well as obtaining loans. Education is significantly variable since more literate and knowledgeable people make better farmers because they are able to invest on the land by conserving soils and forests. Since the sample was largely composed of illiterate people, natural resource conservation is limited in this area.Lastly, fuel wood prices are low in Magoye West because it can be mined, nearly freely,from open-access areas. Where there is open-access, trees can be cleared from forests by migrant farmers. This results in women's time being increasingly constrained in rural areas as fuel wood become scarce, due to rapid deforestation, and women have to walk farther for fuel wood collection. All in all, as the population keeps on growing in Magoye West, there is indiscriminate cutting down of trees for various purposes such as charcoal, timber and land expansion for cultivation. Rapid population growth has put increasing pressure on cultivable land leading to deforestation, soil erosion and loss of biodiversity. Furthermore, land occupation and use in this area is temporal since the farmers are illegally there, and there is no motivation for the farmers to invest in farm intensification and land resource conservation since they do not own that land.
Farms, small -- Magoye West , Forest reserves -- Magoye West , Forest degradation -- Magoye West , Land degradation -- Magoye west