An assessment of the seasonal dynamics of agricultural land use and their contribution to household food security in Kilombero wetland, Morogoro region, Tanzania

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University of Dar es Salaam
Kilombero District has been experiencing unstable food availability due to changes in food production triggered by changes in seasonality of rainfall. This study was therefore undertaken in Njage, Mngeta and Mkangawalo villages in the Kilombero wetland to understand the extent to which the wetland could enhance household food security of the surrounding communities. The objectives of this study were to: identify the wetland users engaged in agriculture in Kilombero wetland and describe their socio-economic status; examine the seasonal patterns of agriculture in the wetland and their implications on food production; and evaluate the contribution of Kilombero wetland to household food security of the surrounding communities. A research design that integrated both qualitative and quantitative approaches was used. Data were collected through structured questionnaire interviews, in-depth interviews of key informants, focus group discussions, observations, wealth ranking as well as resource mapping. Simple random sampling technique was used to obtain the sample size of 150 respondents while purposive sampling was used to get the key informants. Content analysis was used to analyze qualitative data while descriptive statistics (percentages and frequency counts) were used to analyze quantitative data. Chi-square test was used to analyze the differences between wetland and upland yields as well as size of wetland plots cultivated among socio-economic groups. Pearson correlation analysis was used to establish the relationship between the size of land cultivated and food shortages while Spearman’s correlation was used to analyze the relationship between household size and food shortages. The findings showed that majority of the wetland users were the average wealthy (42.7%) and poor farmers (40.7%) who depended on the wetland for their survival. They had limited assets including land and income to support their livelihoods. Crop production in Kilombero wetland was low as most of the farmers practiced mono-cropping of rice and maize in both dry and wet seasons. They also depended on rain-fed agriculture. Very few (8.7%) practiced dry season farming. The study also revealed the presence of seasonal food shortages and food insecurity in the study area, particularly among the poor and very poor households. The small size of the wetland plots cultivated, inadequate use of agro-inputs and over dependence on subsistence farming led to low crop production, which together with household size, overselling of crops after harvest and over dependence on single cropping method caused food shortages and household food insecurity. The poor and very poor farmers had to skip meals a day as a coping strategy. Some had to sell their labour to overcome the food shortage problem. The study concluded that despite the agricultural potential of Kilombero wetland, crop production was low as most farmers, who were mainly the poor and average wealthy cultivated small size plots and depended on mono-cropping of rice and maize as well as rain-fed agriculture. This caused seasonal food shortages among households. As such the wetland had not contributed much to improving the food security status of the people especially the poor and very poor households. It is therefore recommended that the village governments should allocate adequate land to the poor and very poor farmers to enable them increase crop production. The District agricultural extension officers should encourage the wetland farmers to diversify their crops and educate them on the importance of using agro-inputs and a variety of cropping methods in order to increase agricultural production.
Available in print form, East Africana Collection, Dr. Wilbert Chagula Library, Class mark (THS EAF HD9017T34I66)
Farm produce, Land use, Agriculture, Food supply, Household, Kilombero wetland, Morogoro region
Innocent, R. (2016) An assessment of the seasonal dynamics of agricultural land use and their contribution to household food security in Kilombero wetland, Morogoro region, Tanzania, Master dissertation, University of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam.