The study assessed farm labour groups in Igala and Ebira ethnic groups of Kogi State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study examined the characteristics of farmers’ labour groups in the two ethnic groups; ascertained the perceived benefits of farmers’ labour group; found out farmers’ level of awareness and use of farm labour laws; determined group potentials for farmer-to-farmer extension; assessed the effectiveness of farmers’ labour groups in carrying out farm and non-farm operations; and identified constraints to labour group formation and productivity. A total of 114 farm labour groups were randomly selected from the two ethnic groups (89 from Igala ethnic group and 25 from Ebira ethnic group). From each of the farmers’ labour groups, 3 members were randomly selected making a total of 342 respondents for the study. Structured interview schedule was administered to the selected farmers for data collection. Data collected were anaysed using percentage, mean score, standard deviation, student t-test, Chi-Square and factor analysis. Results showed that majority (92.2%) of members of farmers’ labour groups from both ethnic groups were males with mean age of 52.2 years. The overall results showed that most (60.5%) of these farmers had farm sizes between 1-4 hectares. Majority (48.2%) of farmers’ labour groups from both Igala and Ebira ethnic groups were formed before 1990, having a mean group size of 11 persons. Dearth of farm labour (86.3%); rural-urban migration (74.8%); and assisting one another and joint problem solving (44.7% respectively) were some of the major reasons for farmers’ labour group formation by farmers from both ethnic groups. While promotion of deep interpersonal relationships (M=3.84 SD=0.433); assisting indigent members in times of needs (M=3.37 SD=0.682) and increased in income (M=2.99 SD=0.815 were some of the benefits of farmers’ labour group. Migration of youth population (M= 2.74 SD=0.514); scarcity of farm labour (M=2.58 SD=0.547) and old age of some members (M=2.58 SD=0.623) were some of the constraints to farmers’ labour group formation and productivity. Farmers’ groups from both ethnic groups were aware of freedom of association act (M=3.34 SD=0.860) and child labour act (M=3.11 SD=860). While knowledge-sharing (M=2.86 SD=0.349); conflict resolution (M=2.45 SD=0.581) and problem-solving (M=2.48 SD=0.627) were the major farmer-to-farmer extension potentials developed by farmers’ labour groups from ethnic groups. Farmers’ labour groups were effective in the areas of expansion of farmlands, saving of costs of farm labour and bulk procurement of farm inputs for members. And the null hypotheses tested revealed that slight difference existed in the perception of benefits of farm labour groups (t=-2.134; P≤0.05) among Igala and Ebira ethnic groups; also great differences existed in the perceived constraints to farmers’ labour groups from the two ethnic groups. It was recommended that government and private institutions should intensify the process of urbanizing rural areas to stop the upsurge of rural-urban migration.

Chapter One
1.0.       Introduction
1.1.       Background Information
In Nigeria and most developing nations of the world, agriculture plays a vital role in economic transformation and food security. A review of the nation’s economic indices shows that the agriculture sector’s contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was put at 60-65% in the sixties, 30-37% in the seventies, 36-37% in the eighties and 45% in the year 2000 (Mohammed, Achem, Omisore and Abdulquadiri, 2009). The contribution later dropped to 40.1% in 2001 (Central Bank of Nigeria CBN, 2011; Muhammed, et al., 2009; Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in Koyenikan, 2008). Presently, the contribution stands at 41.8% (Opaluwa, 2013). This decline could be attributed to factors such as migration of young and energetic youth to urban centers (Ekong, 2010), old age and health-related problems of rural farmers, limited/lack of farm labour, among others.

The bulk of the food consumed in most cities in Nigeria come from rural farmers who employ indigenous techniques and family labour for most of their farm operations. Rural people are mostly smallholder farmers whose farmlands are small and scattered. Smallholders make a contribution not only to agricultural productivity but also to overall economic growth, by providing labour, capital, food, foreign exchange, and a consumer good market (Biggs and Biggs, 2001).

The adoption of family labour does not really bring about the much needed economies of scale in food production. Before the advent of civilization, the extended family system played significant roles in the lives of the people. Members of the extended family lived and worked together and reinforced each other against the difficulties they had to contend with, especially farm tasks.

Agriculture cannot play this dynamic and wealth-creating role (such as food production, employment creation, income generation etc.) without an enabling policy environment, adequate institutions, and sufficient, well-targeted public and private investment. The experience of recent decades has been disappointing in this regard in a number of countries, particularly the least developed countries (LDCs), where investment has declined, rural poverty remains widespread and a very large share of the labour force is engaged in low-return agricultural work. Cuts in health and education budgets and in other public services, as well as the dismantling of publicly funded agricultural extension services during the structural adjustment processes of the 1980s and 1990s, undermined the foundation for bottom-up development for a generation. The effects are being felt today with a large number of poorly educated rural youth with few skills and poor job prospects and a smallholder agriculture sector that cannot thrive due to lack of steady farm labour and support in terms of policy, infrastructure, inputs and investment.

Wage labour which was later introduced was a means of getting quick returns to address other domestic needs such as food, clothing, payment of children school fees, among others. Increased income has led to the development of deep taste for western luxury goods in recent times. In consequence, urban areas began to attract young men in their large numbers since it is in the cities that better social services and jobs are to be.....

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