The Social Construction of Land Degradation among Farmers in Rural Kano, Nigeria: Implications for Development Policy
Land degradation is one of the main drivers of natural resource degradation, and can lead to loss of agricultural livelihoods, and food insecurity. This paper analyses smallholder farmers’ experience of land degradation in rural areas of Kano Nigeria, using a social constructivist perspective. The study used semi structured interviews with 44 farmers and 6 focus group discussions to examine these perceptions. The findings show that farmers’ main conception of land degradation is a loss in soil fertility, a decline in productivity and crop yield, and in some cases, a change in vegetation. The study finds that farmers’ conceptualization of land degradation is contextual and shaped by a variety of factors, including social and physical factors. The three most important drivers that shape farmers’ construction of changes in land are their socioeconomic conditions, the Islamic belief about rainfall and climate, and the local ecology and context. Given the recognition of land degradation as a driver of rural poverty, and the importance of smallholder farmers to food security in Africa, farmers’ experience of land degradation need to be taken into account in the design of policies to redress, and restore degraded land.
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