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The objectives of this study are to describe the socio-economic characteristics of maize farmers, costs and returns, and identify the constraints of maize production in the study area. On maize production in Soba Local Government Area, Kaduna State. The result of the socio-economic analysis shows that 44% of the farmers were between the age of 19 and 60 years, but the average age is 34 years. While 21.6% had no formal education, 87.5% of the educated ones went through primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. Average household size was 10 and only 59.4% of the farmers belonged to farmers’ cooperative societies. The average level of seed , fertilizer and agrochemicals used were seed was 68.5kg/ha, fertilizer was 238kg/ha, while agrochemical was  12 L/ha. Maize yield (4,000kg/ha). The economic analysis showed the Gross Margin per hecter from sole of maize crop was N40,000. Fertilizer was the most prominent cost item, accounting for 59% of the total cost of production. The results of the regression analysis indicated that out of the three input prices included in the model, the prices of agrochemical and seed had an inverse relationship with maize yield while fertilizer price had positive effect. The study concluded that maize production in the local government area is profitable. The study recommended that input subsidy, training of farmers, and credit facilities to boost sustainable maize production system in Soba Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria.



1.1       Background of the study

Maize (Zea mays L.) is a member of the grass family (gramineae). It originated from South and Central America. It was introduced to West Africa by the Portuguese in the 10th century.  Maize is one of the most important grains in Nigeria, not only on the basis of the number of farmers that engaged in its cultivation, but also in its economic value. Maize is a major important cereal being cultivated in the rainforest and the derived savannah zones of Nigeria. Maize has been in the diet of Nigerians for centuries. It started as a subsistence crop and has gradually become a more important crop. Maize has now risen to a commercial crop on which many agro-based industries depend for raw materials (Iken and Amusa, 2004).One  of  the  major  tasks  facing  Nigerian  agriculture  is  the  provision  of  an  adequate  and well-stable  food  supply  to  meet  the  requirements  of  a  growing  population.  One  of such  food  crops  is  maize.  The  significance  of  maize  to  the  modern  society  is  first  and foremost  clearly  reflected  in  the  importance  of  the  crop  in  the  diet  of  man  and  animals throughout  the  world  (Onwueme  and  Sinha,  1991).    Abubakar  (1999),  ranked  maize as  the  third  most  important  cereal  after  wheat  and  rice  globally. In  Nigeria,  maize  is  produced  across  the  country  right  from  the  mangrove  region  in the  south  to  the  Sahel  Savannah  in  the  North  (Edache,  1999;    Tauna,  1999;  Olukosi and  Raphael,  1997). Maize  production  in  Nigeria  has  also  been  on  the  increase  both in  terms  of  hectarage  and  production. A seven-fold  increase  in  production  occurred between  1984  and  1994. Similarly  production  increased  from  6,515,000.0  to 7,019,500.0  tonnes  (7.75%)  between  1999  and  2003  respectively  (CBN  Annual Report  2003). The total area under maize cropping in  Nigeria was estimated to be 3.0 million hectare (Lamarde, 1994). Traditionally,  production  ranged  from  0.4  –  1.7  tonnes  per hectare, but with improved  methods and improved inputs, the yield  could  be  up  to  4  – 5  tonnes per  hectare (Lamarde,  1994). Maize is the  most important cereal in Nigeria and is  grown either as a vegetable at the  backyard or on the farm (Kehinde,  1997). With adequate supply of these inputs  and the provision of adequate storage  facilities, the rapid expansion of maize  could be sustained. Since the 1970s,  the federal government made it a policy  to increase the maize production  through the increased use of fertilizer. This led to the decision by the Federal  Government to establish local fertilizer  plants as against relying entirely on fertilizer importation as the case was  prior to 1976. The effectiveness and sustainability of these plans varies with  government. For maize farmers, access  to fertilizer is an important input  considered in the production decision. This have direct effect on the level of  productivity, thus increased productivity  contributed to economic development  and policies for effective  mobilization  of  the  resources  for transforming  self-sufficient  oriented  maize  farmers  to  commercial  and  market oriented  agriculture    (Nyako,  1999).

1.2   Problem Statement

The  year  2000  was  set  as  a  target  date  for  the  attainment  of  food  self  sufficiency  by all  African  countries  in  the  action  plan  agreed  upon  in  Lagos,  Nigeria  (Salih,  1994).   However,  roughly  5  years  after  the  deadline,  little  or  nothing  had  been  achieved. This failure  is  evident  by  the  excess  capacity  in  the  agro  industrial  sector;  rapid  increase  in food  prices  and  the  gradual  resort  to  food  importation  among  other. Rapid  growth  in  maize  is  essential  for  broad  based  economic  growth,  but acceleration  in  agricultural  growth  requires  sound  use  of  science  and  technology embodied  in  improved  seed,  fertilizer,  agrochemical  and  other  agronomic  practices. However  without  an  efficient  and  cost  effective  supply  of  these  inputs  at  the  farm gate,  science  based  growth  in  agricultural  productivity  cannot  be  achieved. One  of  the  problems  cited  as  constraining  the  production  of  maize  in  Nigeria  is stagnant  production  technology  among  Nigerian  farming  community,  majority  of  who are  small-scale  producers. The  reason  for  this  could  be  attributed  to  resource productivity  as  studies  have  confirmed  inefficiency  in  resource  utilisation  in  both food  and  cash  crops  in  Nigeria  (Olagoke,  1999  and  Olayide,  1979).The  extent  to  which  inputs  supply  and  productivity of maize  relates  to  a  shortfall in  food  demand  and  supply  in  Nigeria  is  not  clearly  understood. At  the  same  time, the  impact  of  factors  such  as  the  policy  environment,  and  the  availability  of  markets for  the  disposal  of  farm  outputs  is  not  often  considered  despite  the  fact  that  such factors  make  farmers  to  work  harder  and  thus,  produce  higher  outputs. Therefore this study is to provide answers to the following research questions.

  1. What  are  the  socio  economic  characteristics  of  maize  farmers  in Soba Local Government Area of  Kaduna State ?
  2. What are the costs and returns of maize production in the study area?
  3. What are the constraints associated with maize production in the study area?

1.3 Justification of the Study.

This study  is  expected  to  provide  valuable  benchmark  information  to  these  new  entrants  on resource  productivity  and  profitability  in  maize  production  so  as  to  enable  them consider  its  production  as  a  viable  option.    As  for  farmers  who  are  already  cultivating the  crop,  the  study  will  go  a  long  way  in  providing  information  on  ways  of  boosting production.   In  order  to  increase  the  production  of  maize,  sound  micro  and macroeconomic  farm  policies  are  needed.      Require  prior  to  their  formulation,  an understanding  of  the  input  prices  and  output  relationship  in  maize  production.    This will  obviously  go  a  long  way  in  generating  employment  opportunities  for  thousands of  Nigerians,  improve  the  food  security  status  of  Nigerians  and  most  importantly, improve  export  and  generate  additional  foreign  exchange  for  the  country.

1.4 Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of the study is to assess the economic analysis of maize production in Soba Local government area of Kaduna State.

The specific objectives of study are to:

i.                    describe the socio-economic characteristics of small-scale maize farmers.

ii.                  determine the costs and return of maize production in the study area.

iii.                identify the constraints of maize production in the study area.

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