Understanding Small Landowners' Perspectives in Adoption of Goat-Agroforestry Land Management System

2011 Annual Report for LS10-237

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2010: $27,961.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Buddhi Gyawali
Kentucky State University

Understanding Small Landowners' Perspectives in Adoption of Goat-Agroforestry Land Management System


This “Research and Education” preliminary project is aimed to collect preliminary data on economic and environmental impacts of goat-rearing under agroforestry systems in the small farmlands of Alabama. Majority of Alabama’s underserved farmers own/operate smallfarmlands; their lands do not provide adequate returns. These farmers are eager to know how to diversify farm activities to obtain decent farm returns and retain value of farmlands. One way is to produce high-value specialty crops and animals. In some places, farmers have been raising meat-goats and have indicated that such business possesses potential to become a viable and cost-effective land management alternative. The feedbacks of this preliminary study are being used to develop a full proposal to submit to USDA funding agencies, including Southern-SARE.

In the period from January to December 2011, project-specific activities were initiated as stated in the proposal. Two focus group discussions were conducted in Alabama; survey questionnaire was developed, pre-tested, and have already been administered to 50 farmers. Graduate and undergraduate students were engaged in the project activities, and received field experience in conducting focus group discussions, observing field sites, communicating with landowners, and developing, pretesting, administrating, and entering the survey information in Excel Spreadsheet. Moreover, the PD (Buddhi Gyawali) is being involved to develop a full proposal in collaboration with Alabama A&M University (AAMU), Tuskegee University, Alcon State University, and North Carolina A&T University. The expanded proposal of this project will be submitted to southern- SARE’s Large Systems Research Grant Program or NIFA’s Small and Medium-sized farms program when the call for these grants are announced. The PD of project (Dr. Buddhi Gyawali) has joined Kentucky State University (KSU) since February 2012. Dr. Gyawali has requested to transfer the project to KSU and complete the remaining activities of the project and prepare and submit a final report in June 2012. AAMU is in contact with SARE for transfer of the project to Kentucky State University.

Objectives/Performance Targets

The objectives of the proposal (as stated in the original proposal) are following:
(1) To what extent does the integration of goats in the agroforestry system help to control unwanted vegetation and increase soil fertility?
(2) Is the modified agroforestry system is cost-effective and provide a viable economic opportunity for small farmers?
(3) What are the critical information needs associated to goat rearing and marketing and what are the assistance available to them from local and government agencies?


As stated in the proposal, the three objectives of the proposal will be achieved by focus group discussions and survey of the landowners. Two focus group discussions and surveys were conducted to collect demographic information, farm characteristics, and level of understanding and interests of the farmers corresponding to Objectives 1 &2. First focus group discussion was held in Luverne, Alabama on August 4, 2011. The second focus group discussion workshop was held in Thomaston, Alabama on November 29, 2011. Twenty-four farmers (14 females and 10 males) and 33 farmers (15 females, 18 males) attended the first and second workshop, respectively. Project Director, Dr. Buddhi Gyawali (AAMU), Co-PD director, Dr. Nar Gurung, Tuskegee University, Ms. Bonita Gill, graduate student and Mr. Ryan McCloud, a junior Agribusiness major Dr. Swagata “Ban” Banerjee, Assistant Professor in the Department of Agribusiness, Alabama A&M University, and Dr. Yaoqi Zhang, Associate Professor, Auburn University participated in the focus group discussions in Luverne, Alabama.
The workshop at Thomaston, Alabama was also attended by above facilitators and agency representatives from Winston County Self Help Cooperative (WCSHC), National Network of Forest Practitioners (NNFP), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Federation of Southern Cooperatives (FSC). Not to mention, one of the participants in the workshop was Rev. J.H. Davis, 94 years old yet a highly motivated and enthusiastic person who drove 30 miles himself from Camden to Thomaston to attend the workshop. The purposes of both workshop were to collect landowners’ perception on goat-agroforestry system (inclusion of goats in pasture and forestry lands), educate limited-resource landowners about the benefits of raising goats in agroforestry system as potential alternative for generating income, and to exchange ideas about opportunities for partnerships between HBCUs and local organizations and agencies for collaborative research, technical assistance, and outreach activities.
In both workshops, Project Director, Dr. Gyawali provided highlights of the purpose and expectations of the workshop. Drs. Nar Gurung, Swagata Banerjee, Yaoqi Zhang (Auburn University) facilitated focus group discussion in Luverne, Alabama. Mr. Andrew Williams (WCSHC), Mr. James Ford (NNFP), Dr. Gyawali, Mr. Tim Boyce, goat farmer, Dr. Gurung, and Mr. Duane Andrews (NRCS) facilitated focus group discussion for exploring collaborative opportunities between HBCUs and local organizations and landowners. In the focus group workshop wide range of issues, problems and potential in agroforestry for small landowners were discussed. The participants stated that the event was instrumental in learning how to manage and diversify farmlands in innovative ways for higher farm income. Some participants showed interest in working with the local agencies and AAMU and Tuskegee University to develop producers’ grants for establishing agroforestry demonstration farms in their property. Students (Ms. Gill and Mr. McCloud) stated that they were highly benefitted from the workshop for understanding current issues facing minority landowners and pretesting/interviewing landowners.
Surveys were designed in June, 2011 and pretested with few landowners. Forty-one questions are included in the survey. The revised surveys were administered via telephone, survey, in-person, and online using surveymonkey.com. Ms. Bonita Gill (graduate student) and Mr. Ryan McCloud, Agribusiness senior student assisted in conducting surveys. Mr. McCloud had begun to enter survey data into excel spreadsheet until few months ago. This work has been held now due to Dr. Gyawali’s transition from Alabama A&M University to Kentucky State University. The data entry and analysis will be continued when the transfer of the project to KSU is completed. AAMU has been in touch with SARE to close out the project and transfer to Kentucky State University. Two abstracts have been submitted for presentations at Annual Meeting of Rural Sociological Society (RSS) in Chicago in August, 2012, and National Small Farmers Conference in Memphis in September 2012. At least one manuscript will be prepared in summer, 2012 for publication in a peer-reviewed extension journal.
A separate file with few pictures showing the participants in both focus group discussion workshops are attached

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Since the analysis of survey data is not yet completed, detail impacts and outcomes will be reported in the final report. However, the organization of two focus group discussions have provided many insights from small farmers for making small farm lands more profitable, diversified, and sustainable. Attendants of the workshops received additional information from NRCS, FSC about the technical support, loans, and subsidies and services these agencies provide and established contacts for one-on-one consultation and assistance. Small farmers are very interested to work with universities and have planned to attend “Goat day” at Tuskegee University every year. Few Farmers are also interested to establish demonstration farms in their properties and begin agroforestry-based land management system. Farmers would like to be followed up by researchers and agencies about the project activities periodically. Two papers will be prepared and presented in the Rural Sociology Annual meeting and National Small Farmers Conference in July and September, respectively. The final report of the project will provide detail outcomes and impacts of the project.


Dr. Nar Gurung

Assistant Professor
Tuskegee University
301 B Milbank Hall
Tuskegee, AL 36088
Office Phone: 3347278457