The debate on integration of shade trees on farmers’ fields is lately becoming pronounced due to the increasing land fragmentation, particularly in the highlands where the number of trees on farm is reducing drastically. In these farmlands, the choice of shade trees is the result of complex farmers’ analysis and valuation of tradeoffs between the increasing productivity, socioeconomic and environmental benefits that they may provide. However, little is known about what coffee farmers specifically base on to select and grow shade trees in the fields. This study therefore identified the key reasons behind farmer choices of use of shade trees in coffee fields of Mount Elgon, Eastern Uganda. A cross-sectional study was conducted for 120 respondents. A Structural Equation Modeling technique was conducted in IBM AMOS SPSS version 23.0 to examine the usage of shade trees. Only facilitating conditions (FC), negatively moderated by soil fertility, significantly influenced farmers’ choices to use of shade trees. The existence of adequate FC increased females’ choices to use shade trees. This study underscores the consideration for technology specific FC by farming support institutions, decision-makers and development partners in designing and disseminating sustainable agricultural management strategies for implementation in coffee-based agroforestry systems.
Keywords: Highlands, Coffee fields, Farmers choices, Shade trees, UTUAT model