Integration of small-scale tree farmers into wood markets: a case of Mubende district
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Integration into wood markets presents a crucial incentive for farmers to manage trees for quality wood production given that it boosts returns from their wood products. Integration in wood markets revolves around farmers’ ability to: access target wood markets; determine prices; and compete favourably when selling their wood products. Small-scale farmers in most sub-Saharan countries have been introduced to tree growing with little consideration for their integration into wood markets. This has largely been attributed to the notion that small-scale tree growing is for environmental conservation other than income generating investments. However, some studies have indicated that small-scale wood production can deliver net economic livelihood benefits to individuals and communities and reduce pressure on natural forests. There is, however, a general dearth of documented clarity about marketing of wood produced by small-scale wood producers, despite the growing trends of small-scale wood production in several developing countries. The study sought to contribute to a better understanding of the level of, and available opportunities for, integrating small-scale wood producers into wood markets in order to maximize their livelihood benefits from wood production. Specifically, the study; assessed the extent of small-scale wood producer integration in the wood markets, determined the factors that influence small-scale wood producer integration in wood markets and assessed the opportunities for facilitating integration of small-scale wood producers into wood markets. The study was conducted in Kiyuni Sub-county and South Division of Mubende Municipality employing descriptive, interpretive and exploratory research design, following a cross-sectional survey. Data was collected using participant interviews with 131 small-scale tree farmers, 5 focus group discussions and interviews with 31 key informants. Descriptive statistics, Pearson’s chi-square test and fisher’s exact test were used to analyse the extent of small-scale wood producer integration into wood markets. Binary logit regression was used to determine the factors that influence small-scale wood producer integration. Using thematic and narrative analysis, data from key informants was analysed to identify the opportunities for integrating small-scale wood producers into wood markets. The study revealed that majority of the small-scale tree farmers were not integrated in wood markets. Integration into wood markets was significantly influenced by a several socio-economic and market characteristics. The study also noted a number of opportunities for quality tree growing and wood marketing that farmers need to harness in order to enhance their integration in wood markets. Additionally, the study indicated that farmers had to organize themselves into producer and marketing groups in order to herness most of the opportunities promoted by different state and non-state actors. The study recommends that government and non-governmental actors need emphasize provision and access of essential business-support services aimed at enabling integration into wood markets. Furthermore, Tree planting support actors need to improve their focus on facilitating small-scale tree farmers to harness wood marketing opportunities.