Adoption of elephant crop-raiding deterrent innovations by subsistence arable farmers in the Okavango delta, Northern Botswana
Noga, Sekondeko Ronnie
PublisherUniversity of Botswana; www.ub.bw
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This research study investigated factors influencing adoption of elephant crop-raiding deterrent innovation (ECDIs) in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. The study was conducted on the eastern Okavango Panhandle region in five rural communities that are riddled with human-elephant conflict and are participating in a pilot project initiated by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) aimed at testing the efficacy of chilli pepper and beehive fence as ECDIs. The sample comprised a total of 388 randomly selected, subsistence arable farmers from the list of all households in the individual villages, and 12 purposively selected key informants – two extension agents from the DWNP, and 10 community leaders: that is, five village dikgosi and five village project committee (VPC) chairpersons. The key informants were selected based on the knowledge they possess about the investigated matters, and special positions of responsibility and influence they occupy in their communities or those in which they operate. The study The study used a structured interview schedule to collect data from the subsistence arable farmers. Individual farmer interviews were complimented by focus group discussions (FGDs) which elicited farmers’ response on the delivery and adoption of ECDIs as well as their perception of chilli pepper and beehive fence as elephant deterrent measures. Key informant interviews and field observations were also used to collect data on factors influencing adoption of ECDIs in eastern Okavango Panhandle region. Rooted in Rogers’ diffusion of innovations theory, the study used a descriptive, cross-sectional survey design. Prior to the main investigation, a reconnaissance survey was carried out with a view to ensuring adequate planning and informed decision-making to guide and improve the main survey efforts. The survey was also conducted to ascertain the extension agency’s claim that it had introduced xi ECDIs to farmers and affirm the adoption of the deterrent innovations. The survey showed that the pilot project meant to test the efficacy of introduced ECDIs was formally launched in 2010 in the study area. Data were generally analysed using descriptive statistics, binary logistic regression and chi-square of independence. Results showed varying levels of innovation uptake among farmers. A significant proportion of A significant proportion of farmers (69%, n = 268) adopted chilli pepper innovation. Only one farmer (0.3%) incorporated beehive fence in their farming practice, with two (0.5%) adopting both the deterrent innovations. However, a large proportion of famers (30.4%, n = 118) did not adopt any of the ECDIs. Farmers’ income, education, and perceptions, extension agents’ credibility and dissemination strategies were significant predictors of farmers’ ECDIs adoption. Further, the study elicited institutional relations, availability and/or supply equipment of ECDIs, and labour constraints to have contributed significantly to farmers’ adoption decisions of ECDIs. In the end, a more participatory approach that empowers local people to take a prominent role in decision-making processes regarding human-elephant conflict management seems to be more likely to achieve farmers’ sufficient adoption of ECDIs and reduce crop-raiding. But without genuine institutional support, it will count for nothing. Thus, creating a genuine farmer scientist-extension linkage would facilitate exchange of useful information and bringing about better understanding of the innovations. In doing so, it would help develop an effective and sustainable strategy for promoting any future mitigation measures.