A Socio-Demographic Examination of the Perceived Benefits of Agroforestry
Agroforestry has been suggested to produce an array of ecological and socio-economic benefits that not only reach their adopters, but society as a whole. In spite of strong evidence of the benefits of agroforestry, there is a lack of understanding of the public perceptions of those benefits, which prevents the development of benefit-based promotion strategies of agroforestry products. Thus, this study examines the awareness of these benefits among residents and explores whether perceptions vary across individuals with different socio-demographic characteristics. An on-line platform was used to survey three panels of residents from Missouri, Pennsylvania and Texas. Overall, respondents had a neutral perception of the importance of the ecological and socio-economic benefits that agroforestry farms provide to society when compared to farms employing conventional agricultural practices. These results stress the need to increase public awareness of agroforestry practices and their benefits to more strategically position their products among the final consumer. Gender, education level, and residence location were significantly associated with the perceived ecological benefits produced by agroforestry farms and to a lesser extent with the socio-economic benefits. Results also showed that females and young individuals have a greater awareness of several benefits produced by agroforestry farms. Critical marketing implications to stimulate the purchase of agroforestry products (e.g., berries, nuts) among specific groups of consumers are discussed.