The study was designed to analyze the effects of agricultural mechanization on cassava production by small holder farmers in Rivers state, Nigeria, The study area consists of three agricultural zones. The three zones namely: Rivers East, Rivers west and Rivers central were used for the study. A multistage random sampling technique was used to select 5 LGAs (one was purposively selected from one LGA and the remaining four selected randomly from the remaining two LGAs). Three communities were randomly selected from each the five LGAs giving a total of 15 communities. Finally, in each community, eight respondents (smallholder cassava farmers) were randomly selected making a sample size of 120 respondents. A structured questionnaire was administered to each of the selected respondents. Data collected were analyzed using frequency distribution, percentages, and mean. Cassava production was dominated by males, an active age group, more of married people, the study area was characterized with an average level of education, a fairly large household size and low farm income. The average farm size was low, (0.8 hectares). Farm inputs were mainly supplied by the farmers themselves, types of technologies available were, improved cassava stem, agro chemicals, fertilizer, extension services and irrigation. Improved cassava stem were mostly used of all the technologies available. The level of agricultural mechanization use was low. Agricultural mechanization had a positive effect on output for farmers that used it, therefore the null hypothesis was rejected. The major constraints to the use of agricultural mechanization were high cost of inputs, availability of inputs, lack of technical know-how, and poverty among farmers.

1.1 Background Information
Agricultural mechanization is the knowledge applied by man to improve production or marketing processes; it is seen in hybrid seeds, improved crop varieties, pesticides, machinery, fertilizers etc. (Subba, Raghu, Neelakanta and Bhavani, 2004). Also Jeremy, (2013) defined agricultural mechanization as the tools or machines that are used primarily or entirely in order to support agricultural enterprise in modern agriculture. Agricultural mechanization is thus a combination of all management practices for producing or storing crop mixture, livestock etc. (Esther, 2004). The objective of technology is to provide more output from a given bundle of production inputs.

Agricultural mechanization is quite broad and general, this study will contextualize technology from two classifications which are; hardware technology (embodied in the green revolution model, which promotes hybridization, use of pesticides, insecticides, herbicides etc., the use of farm inputs and equipment), and software technology (extension and farming system research). Some of the technologies used for cassava production were reported by Bucyana (2006), they are; biotechnology (production of zero-to-low cyanide cassava, production of genetically improved cassava, mass production of disease-free, pest resistant and high yielding cassava plants, through micro propagation), agricultural engineering (machinery, equipment and tool design for land preparation and harvesting e.g. ploughs, ridgers, cassava lifters, tuber harvester, screw press etc.), bio-intensive integrated pest management, herbicides, fertilizers, water management (irrigation), post harvest technology, training, research and extension on cassava with model villages etc.

Agricultural mechanization has been of immense contribution to countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Columbia. Before the use of agricultural mechanization (between 1986 and 1998), the Brazilian cassava yields averaged 13 metric tonnes (MT) per hectare, the planting of improved, higher yielding, disease resistant, pest resistant and high starch content varieties of cassava resulted in increased yields (Kupoluyi, 2005). Low out-put small holder farmers averaged about 15 MT per hectare, with better lands yielding about 20 MT per hectare, using mechanized technology yields average 45 MT per hectare, with only 2.2 million hectares under cassava, Brazil produces about 24,000,000 MT per year, (Kupoluyi, 2005). Also in Columbia, despite its agro-ecological challenges, diversity, various systems of cultivation and utilization and other biological problems, yield averages of 12 MT per hectare were obtained; Thailand is often cited as a tropical country that has successfully transformed cassava into an industrial crop, this transformation was driven by a unique export opportunity. The Thailand cassava sector accelerated during the late sixties, increasing during the seventies and the eighties, with high feed import duties, the EU turned to Thailand for its cassava and soybean meal, as a ratio of 80:20 is equivalent in energy and protein to grain feeds such as maize and barley (Bokanga, 2001). Thus, Thailand cassava meal was exported to the European Union (EU) countries. In the late 60s, Thailand shifted its focus to cassava pellets processing, the processing into pellets reduces its volume by about 20-25%, thereby reducing transportation costs, there are approximately 200 pelleting factories in Thailand, with an average total capacity of 10 million tonnes per year. These entirely were achieved through the application of agricultural technologies, (Plucknett, 1998).

Despite Nigeria’s similarities to both Brazil and Colombia in terms of location (low land tropical latitudes, with similar climate, vegetation and ecology), having the same soil types and topography with similar crops cultivated including roots, cassava and cereals, classification as developing countries using international yardsticks, with cassava farming in Nigeria only on smallholder farms, her average yield is less than 11 MT per hectare (FAO, 2004). The latter have developed their industrial cassava sectors, proving cassava can be transformed from a staple food to a multi-use industrial raw material, (Kupoluyi, 2005). The improved cassava variety was better than the local at farm level, farmers have been slow to adopt them based on factors such as; unfamiliarity; most farmers have never had opportunity to try them and therefore do not know whether they will like them or not, unavailability of planting materials, their high moisture content, which leads to poor yields and risk averse.The relatively unknown processing qualities (for garri and fufu) of the improved cassava varieties compared with the unknown qualities of the local varieties, (World Bank, 2000). It was noted by Amao and Awoyemi (2008), that improved cassava varieties express their greater yield potential under both low and high inputs than the local cassava varieties.

In developing countries with low income, Nigeria inclusive, two-third or more of the people live in rural areas and their main occupation is agriculture, more than 71% of the population is engaged in agriculture while in the United States, Canada and West Germany, 3-4 percentages; agriculture is unproductive in the low income areas despite the population engaged in it because it is carried on in an old fashion with obsolete method of production (Jhingan, 2011). As we enter the twenty- first century, the pace of technology use continues to accelerate, with great potential to improve the lives and livelihoods of residents in developing and developed countries, and with profound implications for the global economy, (Esther, 2004).

Rivers State is ranked 18th in the production of cassava in Nigeria with a mean yield of 15.3 MT (International institute of tropical agriculture, IITA, 2009), cassava is produced largely by small-scale farmers using rudimentary implements, the average land-holding is less than two hectares. Most farmers had land and family labour as the essential inputs, rotation and fallow systems are the traditional systems used by the farmers to maintain soil fertility. However, population pressure has resulted in reduced fallow, continuous cropping and reduced soil fertility, (The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources (FMANR), 2012). Presently, cassava is primarily produced for food especially in the form of garri, fufu, starch, tapioca’ and farina with little or no use in agribusiness sector as an industrial material, (Knipscheer, et al, 2007). It is one of the major crops which the present government is interested in developing and encouraging investment. The major two species of cassava produced in the state are bitter cassava and sweet cassava. However, the state Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) is encouraging farmers to plant improved varieties which are also made available to them (Yenagoa Chamber of Commerce, 2012). Cassava is a major contributor to development in Nigeria, there is increasing demand for cassava due to the rapidly growing population, the crop can also be processed into several secondary products of industrial market value such as chips, pellets, flour, adhesives, alcohol and starch which are vital raw materials in the alcohol, textile and soft drinks industries (World Bank, 2000). There is need to incorporate appropriate technologies in the production of cassava especially in Rivers State, which made this study a timely response. This study sought to examine the economic effects of agricultural mechanization on cassava production by smallholder farmers in Rivers State.

1.2 Problem Statement
Agriculture is the bedrock of all economies of the world and it is not an exception in Rivers. With over 70 per cent of the population in the rural area, and most of them dependent on agriculture, it follows that the strategy for economic transformation must address the barriers on production and funding, (Young, 2012). There are a number of natural barriers towards the realization of the food security goals, one of which is land availability. Rivers has a riverine setting, a lot of her communities are almost (and in some cases) completely surrounded by water, (Angela, 2011). According to the Rivers Development and Investment Corporation, (2012), about three-quarters of its total area lie under water which makes available land for cassava production inadequate as it competes with other food crops produced in the state such as plantain, rice, oil palm, vegetables, cocoyam, etc. Therefore appropriate technological and management innovations should be incorporated to improve productivity.

Also efforts to increase food production as to alleviate food shortages and high cost of food items amongst the rural dwellers of Rivers state cannot be achieved with the traditional crop rotation system of agriculture. The drastic changes in agricultural practices during the past 100 years have come about in response to social needs, and we cannot turn the clock back and still feed the current human population (Nweke, Okorji, Njoku, King,1992). Studies carried out by Obisesan (2013), in southwest of Nigeria showed that to boost agricultural production and productivity, farmers have to use agricultural technologies but they lack the finance and as a result, the use of agricultural technologies is very low. Therefore, enhanced provision of rural credit would accelerate agricultural production and productivity (Briquette, 1999).

However, the first step in assessing the usefulness of the technology to cassava farmers in the study area is to determine the attributes responsible for choice of technology used among the farmers as well as the major constraints militating against the effective use of these technologies. Earlier studies by Dorp and Rulkens (1993), Agwu, (2002), Springer, (2002) and Kimenju, (2005), showed that farmer’s decision to use a particular technology was influenced by a number of reasons, some of which are market-driven, level of education, or socio-culturally biased.

These and other features endowed it with a special capacity to bridge the gap in food security, poverty alleviation and yet little is known about available technologies used in production of cassava by smallholder farmers in Rivers state as well as factors that influence the level of usage of these technologies.

Previous studies have dealt on the agricultural mechanization adoption (Aliou and Ben,2012; Chukwuone, Agwu and Ozor, 2006), the role of agricultural mechanization in poverty reduction among crop farmers ( Nnadi, Chikaire, Nnadi, Utazi, Echetama and Okafor 2012; Datt, Jollifle and Sharma, 1998; De Janvry and Sadoulet. 2002). Little or nothing has been done to analyse the economic effects of agricultural mechanization on the production of cassava by smallholder farmers in Rivers State. Hence this study sought to examine the economic effects of agricultural technologies on cassava production by smallholder farmers in Rivers State.

1.3 Objectives of the Study
The broad objective of the study was to examine the effects of agricultural mechanization on cassava production by smallholder farmers in Rivers State, Nigeria. The Specific objectives were to:

i. describe the socio-economic characteristics of smallholder cassava farmers ;
ii.. identify the types of agricultural technologies available to small holder cassava farmers;
iii. determine the level of usage of agricultural technologies in cassava production;
iv. estimate the effects of agricultural mechanization on cassava production;
v. identify the constraints faced by smallholder cassava farmers on the use of agricultural technologies.

1.4 Hypothesis
The following null hypothesis will be tested:

i. Agricultural technologies have no significant effect on cassava production.

1.5 Justification of the Study
As a progress mechanism, there are more and more changes to agricultural technologies. The technology that is available is regularly being altered so that it can be more precise in its functions and can perform more complex functions. In order to design appropriate policies that will bring about an efficient production of cassava in Nigeria, there is need to carry out a study on the use of agricultural technologies for cassava production in Nigeria. This study brought more information about the economic effects of agricultural mechanization on cassava production by smallholder farmers in Rivers State, which is in line with the policy to boost food production and internally generated revenue base of the Rivers state. Improve productivity for agriculture is one of the most important areas in the world, throughout the decades technology has played a major role in improving farming conditions. Technologies have also provided new opportunities for farmers, without technologies, farmers will still need to pick every cassava plant by hand and plough the ground without machinery. If farmers in Rivers State would embrace technology, food production can be more efficient and cost less labour.

As part of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) global strategy for cassava development, Nigeria has been selected to conduct a country case study among other nations. The selection of Nigeria is largely based on the considerable level of experience in the development, multiplication and processing of cassava into various food, feed and raw material forms. These gains would need to be sustained, especially through a diversification of usage of cassava for industrial purposes; hence this study would help in formulating a future strategy for the realization of this important goal and also may be useful for future project interventions and development strategy in the cassava subsector.

Also information provided by this study to the student and research bodies has made this study not only a timely response, but a right step in a right direction. It will also be useful to individuals and firms who may wish to engage in cassava production in Rivers State. In addition, this study will enable government bodies identify problems faced by smallholder cassava farmers on the use of agricultural technologies. More so, apart from providing useful information on the effects of Agricultural mechanization on cassava production in the area, it will also serve as a benchmark for further studies in this area.

1.6 Limitations of the Study
Data were not kept by farmers because they were not highly educated which made it difficult to get information but efforts were made to get reliable data through interviews on one- on-one administration of questionnaires to the respondents. Also accessibility of the study area was another limitation experienced while collecting data; the study area is riverine which made it accessible by water means of transportation but efforts were made by using enumerators conversant with the area to get data and the responses were cross checked with the production trend in the state.

For more Agricultural Engineering Projects Click here
Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 57 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word   Delivery: Within 30Mins.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Select Your Department

Featured Post

Reporting and discussing your findings

This page deals with the central part of the thesis, where you present the data that forms the basis of your investigation, shaped by the...