Exploring farmer perceptions of agroforestry via multi objective optimisation: a test application in Eastern Panama

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Springer Nature
Understanding farmers’ perceptions of and preferences towards agroforestry is essential to identify systems with the greatest likelihood of adoption to inform successful rural development projects. In this study we offer a novel approach for evaluating agroforestry systems from the farmer perspective. The approach couples rapid rural appraisal and normative optimisation techniques to determine favourable land-use compositions for meeting various socio-economic and ecological goals, based on farmers’ empirical knowledge and preferences. We test our approach among smallholder farmers in Eastern Panama, obtaining data from household interviews and using hierarchical cluster analysis to identify farm groups with similar land-use and income characteristics. We found that moderate differences in farmers’ perceptions between these groups altered the type and share of agroforestry included in the optimised land-use portfolios that balance the achievement of 10 pre-selected socio-economic and ecological objectives. Such differences provide valuable information about potential acceptability of agroforestry within each group. For example, we found that farmers who derive most of their farm income from crops may be more willing to adopt silvopasture, whereas farmers who are more economically dependent on cattle may benefit from diversifying their land-use with alley cropping. We discuss the potential of this modelling approach for participatory land-use planning, especially when dealing with small sample sizes and uncertainty in datasets.
© The Author(s) 2020. This article is published with open access at Springerlink.com and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License - https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ . The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Agroforestry Systems, 2020, available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10457-020-00519-0 . Keywords: alley cropping; hierachical cluster analysis; land allocation; participatory rural appraisal; robust optimisation; silvopasture; Central America; Panama.
Gosling, E., Reith, E., Knoke, T., Gerique, A., & Paul, C. (2020). Exploring farmer perceptions of agroforestry via multi-objective optimisation: a test application in Eastern Panama. Agroforestry Systems 94, 2003–2020. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-020-00519-0