PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS OF MAIZE PRODUCTION
This study was specially designed to find the problems and prospects of maize production in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of Edo State. In carrying out this study, the respondents were made up to farmers. A total sample size of fifty respondents were interviewed with the aid of questionnaire, the findings were analyzed and discussed the result of the study revealed that the problems are inadequate land, low level of soil fertility inadequate finance, non-adoption of modern farming techniques, inadequate storage facilities, poor marketing and pricing,. The prospect are the farmers already use improved varieties for planting and are accepting ideas from the extension agent, the potential for more prospect exist when solution are found for the above problems. Due to the usefulness of maize as one of the staple food and its industrial uses, it should not be allowed to remain at the present level of production. Therefore, effort should be geared towards solving the problems to make maize production encouraging and interesting to the farmers.
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
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). In recent years however, production of maize in Nigeria has been declining due to low input usage. For example, in 2000 production was 6491MT as compared to 6515MT in 1999. Rapid population growth and increased pressure on land have led to a reduction in fallow periods to below the threshold needed for sustainability (FAO, 1985; Conways, 1997). To compound the situation, essential inputs such as fertilizer, herbicides and pesticides were often scarce and costly at a time when economic reforms have compelled reductions in farm inputs subsidies.
Maize is a heavy feeder that requires sustainable amount of nutrients uptake. In the Savannah region, the enormous potentials for maize production can be realised only with the use of high levels of fertilizer, improved seeds, hectarage expansion and adequate weed control. 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 agricultural 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).
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). Throughout Nigeria, the selling of roasted and boiled maize is a thriving business that provides employment for hundreds of thousand of young girls and women. Though 3 the nature of employment is part time and seasonal, it nonetheless provides an important source of livelihood for the hawkers. Maize is also widely processed into a variety of food drinks such as pap and “Kunu”. In addition, maize is used in making cakes such as ‘masa’. However, the predominant use of maize in Northern Nigeria is for making ‘tuwo’. It is also the main source of energy in livestock and poultry feeds. The growing plant can be cut and made into silage or hay for the feeding of cattle and other ruminants. Thus, maize production gives employment to people and provides food and drinks for man and feeds for poultry and livestock.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
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 others. Rapid growth in agriculture 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. Furthermore, with the phased withdrawal of subsidies and privatisation, the input markets remained underdeveloped and fragmented and farmers do not receive good quality inputs and pay unreasonable high prices despite the fact that the private sector in Nigeria has a potential to supply agricultural inputs in a cost effective manner (IFDC, 2001). 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). Furthermore, the extent to which inputs supply and productivity 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. This study attempts to analyse the productivity of agricultural inputs in food crop production by taking the maize crop as a case study.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What are the socio economic characteristics of maize farmers in Edo State? 2. What are the inputs – outputs levels in maize production?
2. What are the costs and returns in maize production?
3. To what extent do the prices of Agricultural inputs affect Maize output?
1.4 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this study was to assess the problems and prospects of maize production in Edo State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to:-
1. Describe the socio-economic characteristics of maize farmers in Edo State.
2. Estimate the inputs-output levels in maize production in Edo State.
3. Determine the costs and returns and hence profitability of maize production in Kaduna State.
4. Determine the effects of input prices on maize production in Edo State.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Policy makers have been making frantic efforts to attract people into farming. 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. These 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.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of study is limited to Ikpoba Okha Local Government Area in Edo State and the production of maize.