American Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering
Volume 5, Issue 1, February 2017, Pages: 34-40

Assessment on the Perception of Invasive Alien Spices (IAS) of Farmers and Stake Holders on the Agricultural Sector in Eastern Ethiopia

Yeneayehu Fenetahun Mihertu

Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute (EBI) Harar Biodiversity Center, Harar, Ethiopia

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To cite this article:

Yeneayehu Fenetahun Mihertu. Assessment on the Perception of Invasive Alien Spices (IAS) of Farmers and Stake Holders on the Agricultural Sector in Eastern Ethiopia. American Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering. Vol. 5, No. 1, 2017, pp. 34-40. doi: 10.11648/j.bio.20170501.16

Received: January 6, 2017; Accepted: January 18, 2017; Published: February 22, 2017


Abstract: Invasive species can be seen as species that are introduced in a new region, and that spreads rapidly. Invasive alien species (IAS) are characterized by rapid growth rates, extensive dispersal capabilities, large and rapid reproductive output and broad environmental tolerance. this assessment paper discuss on the general perception of IAS from three basic target groups (local farmers, both zonal, regional and woreda agricultural, environmental and forest experts). The assessment was based on three basic concepts that is (1). to understand the attitudes of the target group (evolution of the level of knowledge, awareness and need for information monitoring with related to invasive alien spices); (2). identifying the communication tools most frequently used; and (3). identify which best practices were implemented in order to control IAS with in the residence area. From the assessment data we can understand all target group were concerning on the issue of IAS even they have different level of knowledge and control mechanism and finally the target groups forwarded the following basic recommendation like further support and cooperation with regard to its fast and aggressive expansion of IAS and I also support and elaborate their recommendation.

Keywords: Agricultural Biodiversity, IAS, Impact, Target Group, Perception


1. Introduction

Invasive species can be seen as species that are introduced in a new region, and that spreads rapidly [14]. Or an alien species is an organism introduced outside its natural past or present distribution range by human agency, either directly or indirectly [2]. The deliberate or accidental introduction of non-indigenous species to new habitats has become an increasingly important aspect of global environmental change [1, 10, 11, 13] and can cause important economic, environmental and social losses [4]. Invasive alien species (IAS) are characterized by rapid growth rates, extensive dispersal capabilities, large and rapid reproductive output and broad environmental tolerance [3]. It is estimated that as many as 50% of invasive species in general can be classified as ecologically harmful, based on their actual impacts [15]. Once an invasive species becomes firmly established, its control often becomes difficult and eradication is usually impossible [13]. Therefore, exotic species will forever be common components of every ecosystem on Earth.

Currently, IAS, which is the second, next to habitat distraction to biodiversity threat [8]. Therefore, countries should evaluate the ecological distribution and socioeconomic impact of these species to take appropriate management and control measures. In Ethiopia, there are about 32 IAS and from these 24 identified and 8 of them are still unidentified [12]. Among these invasive alien species Mesquites (Prosopis juliflora), parthenium weed (Parthenium hysterophorus), water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes), Lantana camara, and Acacia species are causing major problems in the country. Currently, it is observed that the IAS species has been increasing in density as well as area coverage from year to year even from month to month and heavily infests most agricultural as well as potential range lands in the eastern part of Ethiopia. The impacts of alien species are enormous. They cause alteration in ecosystem processes and community structure, decline in abundance and richness of native flora [5, 16, 17]. Since eastern part of Ethiopia is one of the countrys hotspots for farmers indigenous Crop, animal and plant diversity but now a day this biological diversity is highly eroded and disappeared due to the occurrence and rapid invasion of invasive alien spice in the area.

Communication is part of preventive actions on invasive alien species (IAS) which are recognized as much more effective than control actions because of a higher cost/benefit ratio from both an ecological and economical perspective [18]. But the success of communication lies in its aptitude in delivering a message and in changing behaviors. Determining the effectiveness of an awareness campaign through an appropriate monitoring is therefore a key component of every communication strategies. Surprisingly, such assessments are poorly documented in the literature dedicated to communication programs. Although it is logical and strongly recommended, in practice it is often forgotten [9] or underestimated. Results from such evaluation help in defining the communication actions which work or do not work, which communication channels or tools are most suitable. It also helps in determining if the message is received by the target audience and how it is perceived.

Therefore, this assessment was aims to address the following basic objectives (1). To understand the attitudes of the target group (evolution of the level of knowledge, awareness and need for information monitoring with related to invasive alien spices; (2). identifying the communication tools most frequently used; (3). To know the perception of the target population (farmers and stake holders) towards IAS and (4). identify which best practices were implemented in order to control IAS with in the residence area.

2. Materials and Methods

2.1. Sampling Design

This assessment was addressed to farmers, agricultural, environmental and forest professionals from two zonal administration (East Hararghe zone and West Hararghe zone), Harari Regional State and Dire Dawa city administration in eastern Ethiopia. Three target groups were considered in this study: (1) local farmers; (2) zonal, regional and woreda agricultural experts; (3) Zonal, regional and woreda environment and forest experts (table 1).

Table 1. Target group.

No. Target group Description
1. Local farmers Producers, consumers and sellers in agricultural crops
2. Both zonal, regional and woreda agricultural experts Civil servant in charge of agricultural areas working in municipalities
3. Both zonal, regional and woreda environmental and forest experts Civil servant in charge of environmental and forest working in municipalities

The assessment data were collected from local farmers and stake holders or experts through semi-structure questionnaire, face to face interview and focus group discussion based methods given by [7]. A total of 552 assessment data were collected from 552 interviewers (416 male and 136 female). From the total interviewers 480 (360 male and 120 female) were local farmers selected from 16 woreda (4 woreda from East haraghe, 4 woreda from West haraghe, 4 woreda from Harari regional state and 4 woreda from Dire Dawa city administration) and from each woreda a total of 30 local farmers were selected randomly based on their area and abundance on IAS around the area. And the reaming 72 (56 male and 16 female) 8 from the two zone (East and West hararghe zone), Harari regional State and Dire Dawa City administration from each 1 agricultural expert and 1 environment and forest expert and total of two from each and the rest 64 interviewers were from woreda experts and from each woreda 4 interviewer were selected purposefully based on their professional area of experts. The assessment was conducted from Aug, 2016 to Nov, 2016 at respondent’s house and fields.

2.2. Data Analysis

All data were analyzed in Access and Excel databases. Examples of questions are indicated in table 2. Basic statistics (# and %) were computed for each question [18].

Table 2. Examples of questions included during the assessment.

Section Question
1. Knowledge, understanding and concern Do you know what is an invasive plant (or invasive alien plant)?
If yes, what do you know?
Do you know examples of invasive plants?
According to you, what are the impacts of invasive plants?
Do you think it is an important issue?
Do you feel concerned by this issue?
2. Information and communication Do you feel enough and already informed about invasive plants?
If yes, by which communication channel (s)?
3. Best control practices of IAS were implemented Do you have any control practice?
If yes, what are those?
Do you have any support based on the control method?
What will be you recommendation based on controlling IAS?

Answers were compared with the definition of invasive species proposed in the Convention on Biological Diversity (2002) referred by [18], "An invasive alien species is a species, sub-species or variety introduced by men outside its natural distribution area, able to survive, reproduce and spread in a new environment, which may cause environmental, economic, socio-cultural and/or public health impacts when established". This definition highlights five main notions to refer concerning invasive plants: (1) spatial origin; (2) introduction by men; (3) naturalization; (4) expansion, spread and (5) impacts. The target group level of knowledge was evaluated following the criteria presented in table 3.

Table 3. Target group level of knowledge.

Level of knowledge Criteria
High Those who answered "Yes" to the question "Do you know what an invasive plant is?" and indicated at least three notions of the definition and at least two correct examples and at least one impact.
Medium Those who answered "Yes" to the question "Do you know what an invasive plant is?" and indicated at least one notion of the definition and/or at least one correct example.
Low Those who answered "No" to the question "Do you know what an invasive plant is?" or those who answered "Yes" but indicated no notions and no examples and no impacts or those who answered "Yes" but indicated wrong examples.

3. Result

3.1. Perception of Invasive Alien Plants

All the information and data based on the perception of IAS that is their knowledge, understanding and concern, the way that informed and communicated about the IAS and the method and practices that used by all target groups included in this assessment were present in the following table form.

3.2. Knowledge, Understanding and Concern

Table 4. Do you know what is an invasive plant (or invasive alien plant)?

Target group Yes No No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 351 73.12 103 21.46 26 5.42 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 36 100

Table 5. If yes, what do you know?*

Target group Its origin Way of introduced Naturalization Expansion Impact on crop biodiversity No answer
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 67 19.14 147 41.88 101 28.77 319 90.88 333 94.87 5 1.42
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 24 66.67 29 80.56 31 86.11 36 100 36 100 0 0
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 19 52.77 25 69.44 33 91.67 32 88.89 36 100 0 0

Note: - *indicated that n=351 for local farmers’=36 both zonal, regional and woreda agricultural, environment and forest experts.

Table 6. Do you know examples of invasive plants?

Target group Yes No No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 302 62.92 133 27.70 45 9.38 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 36 100

Figure 1. Major invasive plants cited by most of the respondent (top 4 species mostly cited).

Table 7. At are the impacts of invasive plants?*

Target group* Ecological Economic Human and animal health On Biodiversity No answer
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 119 33.90 192 54.70 97 27.64 114 32.48 4 1.14
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 31 86.11 35 97.22 36 100 25 69.44 0 0
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 36 100 29 80.56 27 75 32 88.89 0 0

Note: *: Among the respondents who answered yes to the question "do you know what is an invasive plant: n=351 for local farmers n=36 for both zonal, regional and woreda agricultural, environmental and forest experts.

Table 8. Do you think it is an important issue?

Target group Yes No I don’tknow No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 299 62.30 43 8.95 73 15.20 65 13.54 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 100

Table 9. Do you feel concerned by the issue?

Target group Yes No I don’t know No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 363 75.63 12 2.50 41 8.54 64 13.33 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 36 100 0 0 0 0 0 0 36 100

3.3. Information and Communication

Table 10. Do you feel enough and already informed about invasive plants?

Target group Yes No I don’tknow No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 189 39.38 167 34.80 83 17.30 41 8.52 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 31 86.11 4 11.11 1 2.78 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 26 72.22 7 19.44 2 5.56 1 2.78 36 100

Table 11. If yes, do you remember what was the communication channel used?

Communication channel Local farmers Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts
Nb % Nb % Nb %
Conference 68 14.17 27 75 21 58.33
Internet 9 1.88 8 22.22 13 36.11
Article in press 27 5.63 11 30.56 7 19.44
Radio or TV reportage 79 16.46 3 8.33 2 5.56
Folders, brochures 0 0 4 11.11 10 27.78
Article in agricultural magazine 0 0 15 41.67 19 52.78
Other 402 83.75 29 80.56 23 63.89
I don’t remember 3 0.63 0 0 0 0

Other communication channels used: through organizations (federation, association, etc.); through discussion with colleagues, through direct consultations (by phone, letter, Email); through training and/or qualification; through personal experience (observation in the field, personal interest) or personal contacts.

3.4. Control Practices of IAS

Table 12. Do you have any control practice?

Target group Yes No I don’tknow No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 415 86.46 48 10 12 2.50 5 1.04 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 34 94.44 2 5.56 0 0 0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 35 97.22 1 2.78 0 0 0 0 36 100

Table 13. If yes, what are those?

Control method Local farmers Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts
Nb % Nb % Nb %
Cutting 383 79.80 16 44.44 22 61.11
Poling 174 36.25 17 47.22 19 52.78
Firing 63 13.13 13 36.11 11 30.56
Chemical 0 0 0 0 0 0
Biological 0 0 0 0 0 0
Use and avoid it 149 31.04 19 52.78 25 69.44
Preventing 56 11.67 23 63.89 24 66.67

Table 14. Do you have any support based on the control method?

Target group Yes No No answer Total
Nb % Nb % Nb % Nb %
Local farmers 277 57.71 172 35.83 31 6.46 480 100
Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts 19   17   0 0 36 100
Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts 27   9   0 0 36 100

Note:- these they said yes from the above table indicates that both governmental organization like Ethiopian Biodiversity institute, environment and forest authority as well as agricultural sectors and different non-governmental organization like care in Ethiopia, Menschen for Menschen are there most supporting organization regarding to control IAS on their locality.

Table 15. What will be you recommendation based on controlling IAS?

Recommendation that were raised by the target group Local farmers Zonal, Regional and woreda agricultural experts Zonal, Regional and Woreda environment and forest experts
Nb % Nb % Nb %
Get high attentions by government 324 67.50 30 83.33 17 47.22
Need all community participation 205 42.71 27 75 32 88.89
Including in education curriculum 12 2.5 16 44.44 12 33.33
Give high attention that both import and export materials 49 10.21 13 36.11 23 63.89
Get more awareness about its general characteristic 467 97.23 31 86.11 33 91.67
Linkage of institution 109 22.71 22 61.11 21 58.33

4. Discussion

4.1. Knowledge, Understanding and Concern

Generally from the above tables (4-9) we are understand that the target groups perception and understanding based on the type and even identification of IAS from indigenous pants, the knowledge what they know about IAS, major list of IAS indicated by the target group, understanding about the impact of IAS on different aspects, how much the issue was very hot issue on their area and even we can understand that their thinking how much feel on it and make it their concerning issue as well. The level of knowledge was evaluated by analyzing answers to questions related to the definition, impacts and examples of invasive plants (see material and methods). When we see the level of knowledge of the target group from the first table (table 4) of result part, especially the local farmers, most of them around 351 (73.12%) has the idea about IAS and from this we can understand that how much the issue becomes concerned and very critically serious issue on our agricultural biodiversity. The impact on crop biodiversity and rate of expansion are the two most characteristics that are known by most of the local farmers (table 5). And this indicates that the economic, ecological and loss of biodiversity are the most serious impact respectively due to introduction of IAS that understand by the local farmers (table 7). And both the zonal, regional and woreda agricultural, environment and forest experts are totally 72 (100%) of them they have the knowledge about IAs and also they are the concerned body on this regarding to aware the local farmers about its side effect both on agricultural biodiversity, ecological, forest, environment as well as the side effect of them on both human and animal health. And this is in agreement with the study that conducted in France, agricultural and environmental impact is also the most frequently cited by local farmers and nursery producers, public departments and garden contractors [6]. The most common IAS that were listed by both the local farmers and the experts were lantana camara (49.67%), prosopis juliflora (33.77%), parthenium hystrophorus (30.46%) and striga spices (19.20%) were the most dominated and highly affected on both agricultural biodiversity, ecology and also on human and animal health (Fig.1). In general we can understand from the data that were collected both from the local farmers as well as from experts the issue of IAS are very critical at all level and most of the local farmers 299 (62.30%) were indicated that this issue currently hot spot in all aspect (table 8). And most of them 363 (75.63%) of the local farmers and the whole experts 72 (100%) of them indicated that the issue needs the concern of the whole society, even not part of eastern area of the country. and it need the whole community cooperation in order to reduce and if it is possible eradicate from the area that were highly dominated and all its impacts (table 9).

4.2. Information and Communication

When I tried to asking to the target group how much they were informed on IAS, most of the target groups that was local farmers 189 (39.38%), agricultural experts 31 (86.11%) and environment and forest experts 26 (72.225) of them were have enough and already informed about the general features of IAS (table 10). But even most of the target groups have enough information about IAS still most of them 167 (43.80%) of local farmers, 4 (11.11%) agricultural experts and 7 (19.44%) of environment and forest experts were they have not any information about IAS (table 10). From this we can understand that Still awareness creation with regard to IAS general features with in the community is the basic and highly needed as well as we should consider it the first serious point in order to prevent the impact of IAS. When we see the communication channels most frequently used in order to get information about IAS are (1) conferences or information sessions; (2) internet; (3) folders and brochures; (4) articles in agricultural magazines; (5) articles in press, (6) radio and TV reportage and (7) others (table 11). This indicates that respondents are generally informed through several communication channels. The communication channels used differ among the target groups. When we see the local farmers the most common communication channel that they used to get information about IAS were 402 (83.75%) of them through personal experience that is from filed observation, 79 (16.46%) of them were from radio and TV reportage and 68 (14.17%) of them were through different conference (table11). And when we see both agricultural and environment and forest experts they were used different communication channels in order to get information about IAS as compared to local farmers and from this conferences and personal experience like training were the most common (table 11). from this we can understand than both local farmers and also the experts were mostly depends on social communication rather than internet and different article papers. so in order to addressed the information to the society again awareness creation through different training and conference should be taken as the leading point according to this assessment data.

4.3. Control Practices of IAS

When we see from table 12 most of the target groups 415 (86.46%) of the local farmers, 34 (94.44%) of agricultural expert and almost all 35 (97.22%) of environment and forest experts were not only information about IAS rather they can developed and apply their own control mechanism since it is very critical and highly affected on both their economical, ecological as well as both human and livestock health. From the control methods that applied by the local farmer cutting 383 (79.80%), poling 174 (36.25%0 and use and avoid it 149 (31.04%) were the three most control methods respectively (table13). And when we see the experts recommendation on the control method of IAS preventing, use and avoid it, cutting and poling were the most and highly recommended control mechanism of IAS respectively as we see from table 13.

Based on the prevention and control system of IAS there were other collaborative and supportive both governmental and non-governmental organization. From the assessment data that were collected from this target group Ethiopian Biodiversity Institute, both regional, zonal and woreda agricultural, environment and forest authority were the supportive governmental organization and Care Ethiopian and Menschen for Menschen were the two most supporting non-governmental organization that work on awareness creation and control of IAs in Eastern part of Ethiopia (table 14).

Finally, from the target group the following basic recommendation were forwarded with regarding to IAS prevention, Control, avoid its impact on both economical, ecological, environmental and in general biodiversity lose aspect. There are Get high attentions by government, Need all community participation, Including in education curriculum, Give high attention that both import and export materials, Get more awareness about its general characteristic and Linkage of institution in order to prevent and manage the effect of IAS (table 15). From the above recommendation forwarded by the target group awareness creation with in the community was indicated as the most and the first chose in order to control and achieve total change on the impact of IAS followed by give high attention by the country government as we see from table 15.

5. Conclusion and Recommendation

This assessment was performed from three target groups a total of 552 respondents and the assessment was focused on the general knowledge (definition based on their own term, example, general features, issues and their concern) about IAS of the target group, their impact in all aspect especially on agricultural perspectives, the way to know how much they sense its impact and how to get the information about IAS and the method that they try to control in their locality as well as their internal idea what they need to do further on it. From assessment data II try to conclude is that all the target group weather the experts as well as the local farmers they have knowledge about IAS and currently IAS become the first and the most Serious problem that affected on their agricultural biodiversity, range lands, ecology and even their health. And they have their own control mechanism that mostly tries to control the distribution and impact of IAS and there is also some supporting organization with them based on Control method on it. Finally they also recommend further support and cooperation with regard to its fast and aggressive expansion of IAS and from these data I also recommend that in order to achieve effective and fruitful effect on the eradication and control of IAS both governmental and non-governmental organization even at individual level do more on awareness creation and try insert strong internal idea the community how much they are danger in all our life if we cannot control and eradicate it.


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