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Reclamation of Desertified Farmlands and Consequences for its Farmers in Semiarid Northern Nigeria: A Case Study of Yambawa Rehabilitation Scheme

Onyewotu, L.O.Z., Stigter, C.J., Abdullahi, A.M., Ariyo, J.A., Oladipo, E.O., Owonubi, J.J.
Arid land research and management 2003 v.17 no.1 pp. 85-101
Eucalyptus camaldulensis, case studies, farmers, farms, food security, forestry, forests, fuelwood, grain yield, income, nutritive value, planning, planting date, shelterbelts, socioeconomic status, trees, unemployment, wet season, wood poles, Nigeria
As a trial relief measure to rehabilitate abandoned desertified fields at Yambawa in semiarid northern Nigeria, the forest department, acting on advice from the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), established a system of multiple shelterbelts using a monoculture of Eucalyptus camaldulensis. Farmers returning did so not because of the shelterbelts but for socioeconomic reasons related to unemployment and food security. Local farmers were not consulted at the planning stage, and this led to their resentment of the rehabilitation scheme. They would have preferred their choice of tree species that have medicinal or food value. This omission by the government was worsened by inadequate design rules and failure to pay adequate compensation for the 15-20% of land utilized. The use of much land led to more fragmentation in the family tenure, which negatively influences farm use and planning. Income wise, farmers in unsheltered areas appear, therefore, better off. Although 50% of all farmers consulted extension workers, services of the forestry and agricultural extension units were inadequate and uncoordinated, resulting in farmers in the protected area not fully understanding what measures they should take to improve on their crop yields. Farmers who had expected that the belts would enhance their financial and social status became also disappointed when they saw that revenue generated from fuel wood and poles harvested went to the government. Grain yields of millet in farmers' plots were 46 - 3% lower in unprotected areas than in the areas between the belts, during the very different 1993 and 1994 rainy seasons for two differently determined planting dates. Better extension would have brought more of such benefits to the farmer and better design rules would have even increased these advantages.