Trade-off between Agroforestry and Ecosystem Services among Smallholder Farmers in Machakos (Kenya)

B. M. Kinyili, E. Ndunda, E. Kitur


Agroforestry may provide multiple ecosystem services. Thus, understanding relationships between ecosystem services can help minimize undesired trade-offs. The aim of this study was to determine the trade off between agroforestry and ecosystem services among smallholder farmers in Machakos County, Kenya. The study was conducted using a survey research design from a sample of 248 individual farmers, selected using stratified, random sampling. Data were collected using questionnaires and interviews. Based on calculated percentage rank scores, the most common benefit derived from the local community members was ecosystem supporting functions (82.5%) followed by regulatory functions (80.8%). Provisioning ecosystem service was the third most important function as perceived by the local community members (73.5%) while the least was cultural functions (61.4%). This study demonstrates that smallholder farmers who had adopted agroforestry in the semi-arid areas of Machakos County in Kenya achieved several ecosystem services from the practice. Ecosystem services, supporting functions including nutrient recycling and soil formation was the most important followed by regulatory functions (soil erosion control, water infiltration, micro-climate regulation, flood control and disease / pest control). Provisioning ecosystem services such as livelihood, fuelwood, fruit and nuts, poles, timber and fodder was the third most important function as perceived by the local community members while the least was cultural function that are rarely performed within the agroforestry ecosystems. Given the low knowledge of the entire range of agroforestry ecosystem services in the area, the study recommends a concerted effort to educate the local community on the wide range of ecosystem service to maximize the provision of these services from agroforestry.


Agroforestry, Ecosystem Services, Supporting Functions, Regulatory Functions, Provisioning Functions, Cultural Functions, Livelihoods

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