Slash and burn shifting (Chitemene) cultivation has been the dominant traditional land use system in the Miombo woodlands of Northern Zambia. The land use system adopted by farmers depends on the interaction between biophysical and socio- cultural and economical resources available to them. Socio economic resources also include policies, which influence the farmers’ decisions. Despite the so many interventions that have been done and condemnation of this system, this practice of cultivation still persist up to today. It is estimated that Northern Province has lost 35% of its biomass, representing about 43000 km2 of forests land over the past 40 years. The continuation of Chitemene system is in the long term unsustainable. This is because if the rural population continues to grow and if the current trend in Chitemenecontinues, complete deforestation may occur in a few decades. This study tried to investigate the factors that determine this practice in Zambia. The study employed a binomial logit model in order to identify the factors that influence the farmers’ decision to practice chitemene and to quantify the relative importance of these factors. This was employed on data collected from a survey of 90 farmers from Kasama district in the Northern Province of Zambia.</p.> It was hypothesized that the farmers’ behavior is influenced by a complex set of socio economic, demographic, technical, institutional and biophysical factors. Some of the determinants of slash and burn practice found in studies done are structural adjustment programme in Zambia, population growth land tenure system, infrastructure, necessary support services, number of household members, age, gender, education level and amount of available land. It was also hypothesized that the traditional way of life of the people has more influence on the farmers’ decision to practice slash and burn than other factors such as land tenure and even availability of agricultural inputs. This is because despite the so many interventions the practice has continued. Also the older the farmer is in his farming practice and age the more likely he is to practice chitemene. The reason is that farmers usually base their practice on experience and older farmers are a bit conservative and often tend to perpetuate the practice. The other one was that farmers with bigger land area are more likely to practice chitemene than those with less total land area. Farmers with bigger land area have more woodland and therefore more likely to practice. The study revealed from the bivariate analysis results that availability of land increases the chances of the farmer practicing chitemene. It was also shown that non-availability of credit influences farmers’ decision to practice chitemene positively. Lack of money to acquire inputs contributed more to farmers’ decision to practice chitemene. In the econometric analysis, age of the farmer, effect of non-availability of credit facility, effect of household size and influence of tradition had a significant influence on chitemene practice. It was found that the main reason for chitemene practice is lack of money for acquisition of inputs. Policies that facilitate provision of credit and infrastructure development like roads are necessary if slash and burn is to be reduced. This study identified some entry points for policy. Poverty may prevent poor farmers from investing in land conservation due to imperfections in credit markets and high subsistence requirements. So unless the government employs policies that target these factors, there is every reason for the farmers to continue the practice of slash and burn. This study brings to light that practicing of Chitemene depends upon a number of factors that dictate its continued practice. It is imperative that the policy makers and all those involved in agricultural development and policy formulation understand these factors and their relative importance in order to have targeted policies. Moreover although a number of studies have been done on slash and burn and its effects in Zambia, these studies have not analysed the significance of these factors. This study has considered this. Apart from this, it has also contributed to the bulk of research literature on chitemene that might be relevant for future research.
Dissertation (MSc (Agricultural Economics))--University of Pretoria, 2007.