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Farmers’ Knowledge and Practices of Soil Conservation Techniques in Smallholder Farming Systems of Northern Kabare, East of D.R. Congo

Environmental Challenges
Environmental Challenges
Year Published:
Resource Type:
Evaluations and Research

Understanding local knowledge and practices of soil and water conservation is essential for designing and implementing cost-effective and sustainable erosion control programs, thus reducing soil erosion’s adverse impacts on agricultural lands. This study investigated the farmers’ perceptions of soil erosion challenges, knowledge on erosion management, and practices implemented in smallholder farms in northern Kabare, South-Kivu province, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Data was collected through individual interviews with 257 randomly selected farmers, coupled with focus group discussions. Results showed that soil erosion was a common phenomenon in more than three-quarters (76%) of surveyed farms. Eleven soil conservation techniques (SCTs) were known by farmers, of which, only six were routinely implemented on farms: mulching (36% farms), continuous or tied ridges (26% farms), hedges (19% farms), channels and drains (10% farms), infiltration ditches (4% farms), and terraces (2% farms). The effectiveness of each soil conservation strategy at the farm level depended on the number of techniques simultaneously practiced by a farmer, the farm location along the slope, the integration of livestock into farming systems, the farmer’s main activity, and income level, and more importantly, the farmer knowledge on soil erosion control measures. Farmer participation in farmers’ associations (or cooperatives) was instrumental in his/her ability to control erosion at the farm level in the study area. This study was one of the few that tackled the role played by farmers’ perceptions on the adoption of SCTs in eastern DRC and opens an avenue in developing programs associating scientific and indigenous knowledge for sustainable soil erosion control.