EFFECT OF DIVERSIFICATION ACTIVITIES ON THE PRODUCTION TREND OF CASSAVA FARMERS

EFFECT OF DIVERSIFICATION ACTIVITIES ON THE PRODUCTION TREND OF CASSAVA FARMERS

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CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

Background of the study

Cassava is one of the most important crops in Nigeria. It is the most widely cultivated crop in the southern part of the country in terms of area devoted to it and number of farmers growing it. Indeed, it is grown by almost every household. Cassava has also increased in importance in the Middle Belt in recent years. In all places, cassava has become very popular as a food and cash crop and is fast replacing yam and other traditional staples of the area. In all, over four-fifths of the cultivable land area is suitable for cassava growing.

Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) was introduced into central Africa from south America in the sixteenth century by the early Portuguese explorers (Jones, 1959). It was probably the emancipated slaves who introduced the cassava crop into southern Nigeria, as they returned to the country from South America via the islands of Sao Tome and Fernando Po. At that time there were Portuguese colonies off Nigeria's shores (Ekandem, 1962). Cassava, however, did not become important in the country until the end of the nineteenth century when processing techniques were introduced, as many more slaves returned home.

Cassava is important, not only as a food crop but even more so as a major source of income for rural households. Nigeria is currently the largest producer of cassava in the world with an annual production of over 34 million tonnes of tuberous roots. Cassava is largely consumed in many processed forms in Nigeria. Its use in the industry and livestock feed, is well known, but is gradually increasing, especially as import substitution becomes prominent in the industrial sector of the economy. As a cash crop, cassava generates cash income for the largest number of households in comparison with other staples (Table 1). It is produced with relevant purchased inputs as frequently as and in some cases more frequently than other staples. A large proportion of total production, probably larger than that of most staples, is planted annually for sale.

As a food crop, cassava has some inherent characteristics which make it attractive, especially to the smallholder farmers in Nigeria. First, it is rich in carbohydrates especially starch and consequently has a multiplicity of end uses. Secondly, it is available all year round, making it preferable to other, more seasonal crops such as grains, peas and beans and other crops for food security. Compared to grains, cassava is more tolerant of low soil fertility and more resistant to drought, pests and diseases. Furthermore, its roots are storable in the ground for months after they mature. These attributes combined with other socioeconomic considerations are therefore what IFAD has recognized in the crop as lending itself to a commodity-based approach to poverty alleviation (FAO/IC, 1995). The socioeconomic importance of cassava and the accidental introduction of cassava mealybug which ravaged most cassava fields in the major producing areas led to the Government's direct intervention in the subsector, in the implementation of the IFAD-assisted Cassava Multiplication Project (CMP) between 1987 and 1996.

In the early 1980s, Nigerian cassava production fell drastically due to the combined effects of pests (mealybug and green spider mite) and diseases (mosaic virus and cassava bacterial blight), thereby posing a threat to national food security. In response, IFAD initiated the CMP as a parallel-financed part of the World Bank-assisted MSADP-L The overall objective of the CMP was to multiply, promote and distribute improved varieties to farmers so as to improve productivity and income.

Statement of Problem

In lieu of our discussion above, various researchers have found different uses of cassava and the different methods the agricultural produce has been modified to serve various uses. Apart from the traditional method whereby cassava is processed to get garri which is consumed by large portion of household in Nigeria, manufacturing companies have also discovered that cassava can be used for other productive uses. These productive uses can serve as an end in itself or a means to an end. For example, cassava is used in biscuit manufacturing company as an ingredient for their end product, biscuit. In some other manufacturing companies, cassava is processed as flour which is used to produce edible items like bread and so on. Therefore, we undertake this study to examine the effect of these diversification activities on the production trend of cassava farmers.

Purpose of the Study

The primary objective of this study is examine the effect of diversification activities on the production trend of cassava farmers. Specifically, our focus will be:

·         To determine the various diversification activities of cassava production.

·         To determine if the diversification of cassava activities has a significant effect on cassava production.

·         Constraint to massive cassava production in the country.

Research Questions

The study will seek to provide answers to the following research questions that serves as guide to the study

·         What are the various diversification activities of cassava production?

·         Do cassava diversification activities has an effect on its production?

·         What are the various constraints to effective cassava production?

Research Hypotheses

The study developed and formulated for testing the following hypotheses:

H0: diversification of cassava activities do not have a positive effect on the production of cassava.

Significance of Study

The study will of importance to the farmers as they will get to see the various diversification activities that cassava has been channeled to. They can take advantage of these various diversification activities to make money from their trade. Also, the study will be of immense value to the agricultural policy makers. This is because they will make policy concerning the various diversification activities where cassava is a major element. Furthermore, they will be in position to advise the government on policies to adopt that will improve the agricultural sector, more especially in this administration where agriculture is given a priority.

Limitation

This study is limited to diversification actiovities of cassava. Cassava is the major focus and not any other type of crop and diversification issues is the bone of contenetion.

1.6     Scope of Study

The study covers selected area in Abia state and some small manufacturing firms located in Aba Abia state where processing of cassava crop has been observed.


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