- Background information
The two major species of rice commonly cultivated are Oryza glaberrima and Oryza sativa, with Nigeria and Madagacar accounting for 60% of the rice land in sub Saharan Africa (SSA) (Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), 2006). Nigeria is currently the highest rice producer in West Africa, producing an average of 3.2 million tons of paddy (2 million tons of milled rice) (Damola, 2010). Rice indeed is no longer a luxury food in Nigeria, and it has become a major source of calories for the urban poor. The report further adds that the poorest of urban households obtain 33 percent of their cereal-based calories from rice and therefore rice purchases represent a major component of cash expenditure on cereals.
Swamp rice (SR) is a major food crop of the world by virtue of the extent and variety of uses and its adaptability to a broad range of climatic, edaphic and cultural conditions. It is grown under shallow flood or wet paddy conditions. Swamp production is concentrated in areas where management is convenient on flat low lands, river basins and delta areas. The crop flourishes well in humid regions of the sub tropic and temperate climates. About 90% of the world’s swamp rice is produced in tropical, semitropical areas and consumed where it is grown by small-scale farmers in low-income developing countries (Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) 2008).Swamp rice is cultivated in virtually all the agro-ecological zones in Nigeria (Akande,2001). According to Damola (2010), swamp rice is relatively easy to produce and is grown for sale and for home consumption. In some areas there is a long tradition of SR growing, but for many, swamp rice has been considered a luxury food for special occasions only. With the increased availability of rice, swamp rice has become part of the everyday diet of many in Nigeria.
National Cereal Research Institute (NCRI) (2008) identifies three (3) prevalent types of swamp rice production systems in Nigeria viz rainfed lowland SR, rainfed SR and irrigated swamp rice production systems. Rainfed lowland SR production system (RLSPS): accounts for about 48% of Nigerian’s rice area. It is very common in the South Eastern part of Nigeria such as Enugu, Ebonyi etc. The rice yield is generally high and ranges from 2-8 tons/ha and it is also estimated to contribute about 53% to national rice production source (Atala, 2009) Rainfed SR production system (RSRPS): accounts for 30% of the total rice production area with more than 1.30mm of annual rainfall. It is predominant in the southern part of Nigeria and mostly found in the flooded river valleys, which accounts for about half of total rice areas and has an average yield of 2.2 tonnes (Akpokodji, Lancon and Erenstein, 2009). Irrigated swam price production system (ISPS) which is the most recently developed rice environment in Nigeria is common in the Northern and Southern part of Nigeria. Irrigation is supplied from rivers, wells, bore holes among others to supplement the rain for full rice crop growth. It contributes about 16% of cultivated rice land and yields range from 2-8 ton/ha thus accounting for 27% of national rice supply. (Saka, 2010)
Other less common rice production systems include the deep water (floating rice) (Deep water swamp rice production system) which constitutes about 5% of the national rice production area. The yields are very low due to the predominant use of unimproved rice variety (Oglaberrima steud), which yields less than 1 ton /ha. It accounts for about 3% of the national rice output. Also, the tidal (mangrove) Swamp rice (TSPS) which lies between the coast line and fresh water swamps has potential for one million hectares of cultivable rice area but at present contributes less than 2% to national rice production with low rice yields of only about 1 ton/ha. (FAO, 2009).
Consequently, rice production technologies have been developed for swamp rice farmers, but these technologies have not been fully utilized by the farmers. Such rice production technologies include: use of appropriate seed/ seedling varieties such as Nerica, Faro 44, 43 etc, use of appropriate seed rate such as 30 – 40kg seed per hectare, use of pre and post emergence herbicides, land preparation technologies such as ploughing and harrowing, time of planting, appropriate spacing, pest and disease control etc. (FAN, 2007).
Nigeria is the largest swamp rice producing country in West African region and swamp rice production increased gradually over the years with area expansion to surpass major rice producing countries like Cote d’voire and Sierra Leone .(WARDA, 2004) Unfortunately, the increase in demand in recent times has not been accompanied with a corresponding rise in production. This is attributed to wide spread poverty, dominance of the nation’s agriculture by small holders, the use of relatively primitive tools for farm operations lack of exposure to improved agricultural technologies (improved seeds, fertilizers, pesticides etc) and inadequate farm mechanization aids by government (Damola, 2010).
Ani and Kwaghe (1997) observed that the process of increasing efficiency of agricultural production through agricultural modernization depends mainly on the extent to which farmers can incorporate improved agricultural practices into farming operations. This, according to Sule, Ogunwale and Atala (2006) necessarily entails shifting away from the drudgery of age-long use of traditional methods to the ‘utilization of modern production techniques so as to accomplish self sufficiency in food production and improvement of life in the rural areas. It has long been recognized by experts in this field that the only way to significantly increase the productivity of the small scale farmers in developing countries is to improve the farmer’s technological capabilities.
Technology may therefore be defined as the specialized knowledge, skills, methods and techniques required for production and distribution of goods and services. Agricultural technology can also be embodied in people, tools, crop varieties, agricultural practice, and processing equipment. Technology according to Ayoola (2001) includes the totality of how the society performs particular activities. Specifically therefore, agricultural technology consists of the nature and types of available inputs (for example, seeds, fertilizer, chemicals, tools, machines, farm power e t c.) and the way in which these inputs are combined (for example, land fertilizer ratio, labour-machine ratio).
Recent studies has shown that SR production technologies have not been able to meet the increasing demand for rice (FAO, 2002). In the West African sub region, Nigeria has experienced a well established growing demand for rice caused by rising per capita consumption and consequently the insufficient domestic production had to be complemented with enormous import both in quantity and value at various times (Saka and Lawal, 2009). According to the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) (2010), Nigeria’s rice sub sector is dominated by weak and insufficient producer-market linkage due to poor infrastructure and limited efficiency of distribution network which has resulted to low productivity and participation of farmers in the rice field.
In order to reduce the rate of rice importation, Saka and Lawal (2009) were of the opinion that disseminating improved varieties and other modern inputs as a composite package to rice farmers is very important. Nwite Igwe and Wakatsuki (2008) indicated that the adoption of rice production technologies should lead to substantial yield increase in rice production. However, this invariably underscores the important role technology stands to play in attaining the much needed growth in the rice sub sector. As a result of this, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) (1996) opined that new rice varieties that combine higher yield potential with excellent grain quality, resistance to biotic and abiotic stress and input use efficiency are desperately needed to reduce the importation of foreign rice. Kebede (2001) indicated that growth in production can be gained through the use of technologies and allocative efficiencies of farmers in response to the changing techniques and production environment. Hence, adoption of technologies should lead to substantial yield increase.
- Problem Statement
The main problem facing developing world today is not lack of technologies and scientific discoveries needed for economic growth and rural change but that of converting them as instruments of economic growth and social change (Torimiro, Adedoyin and Ala, 2000). This is particularly important when it is recalled that the gap between developed and developing nations can be largely attributed to differences in the level of technological development, transfer and usage. Poor farming, characterized by poor farming tools, local seeds and planting materials and obviously low level of productivity continues to linger on, despite rapid advances in agricultural technology (Ekpe and Obeten, 2007). Much of the world’s intensive food production is on small land holdings. In other words, farmers with limited resources are the mainstay of the food supply for billions of people and this situation is likely to continue for decades, perhaps centuries. Hence, the potential for increased food production, therefore, would be tremendous if yield were increased on each hectare.
Despite the fact that swamp rice contributes a significant amount in the food requirements of the population, its production is far below the national requirements. The rise in domestic demand and consumption of rice far exceeds local production, precipitating, an increase in rice importation bill to as high as 160 million US dollars in 2008 (FAO, 2009). To meet the increasing demand, the importation of milled rice was used to bridge the gap between the domestic demand and supply with its attendant negative implication on Nigerian economy. Consequently, emphasis by government and other stakeholders have been on the way to improve domestic production of rice to meet the increasing demand. In view of this, attempts have been made at developing appropriate technologies in rice production.
Farmers in Enugu State have been involved in SR production since early 1960s but their production levels remain low because of the prevailing use of traditional technologies that have low and declining productivity (Chukwunta, and Uzoechi, 2004). This cannot sustain the rapidly increasing population and growing demand of the people for better living standards that include cheaper food availability on a regular basis. The government’s awareness of this problem has led to a significant increase in public investment in the agricultural sector over the years. The main thrust of this increased commitment has been the introduction of new production technologies to boost the productivity of these farmers. Nigeria has been identified as one of the largest world importers of rice, second only to Indonesia (Damola, 2010). Nigeria is also by far the largest rice importer in West Africa with an average yearly import of over 2 million metric tones since the year 2000 (Emodi and Madukwe, 2008 and USAID-MARKETS, 2010).
In 2008, Nigeria produced approximately 2 million metric tones of milled rice and imported roughly 3 million metric tones, including the estimated 800,000 metric tones that is suspected to enter the country illegally on an annual basis (FAO, 2008 and Damola, 2010). Total consumption stands at 4.4 million metric tones of milled rice, while, while annual consumption per capita stands at 29kg and this has continued to rise at 11% per annum since 2000 (USAID/Nigeria, 2012). To meet this shortfall, government recognizes the potential of large- scale mechanized irrigated agriculture, using improved modern techniques, and wishes to promote further expansion of rice production by the private sector (Emodi and Madukwe, 2008 and USAID-MARKETS, 2010). The following questions may therefore be asked: What are the swamp rice technologies available to the farmers? What is the level of use of existing swamp rice production technologies by the rice farmers? What are the perceived factors promoting the swamp rice production technologies and what are the constraints to the use of swamp rice production technologies?
1.3 Purpose of the study
The purpose of this study was to ascertain the availability and use of swamp rice production technologies among farmers in Enugu State.
The specific objectives were to:
- identify the swamp rice production technologies available to the farmers;
- determine the level of use of available swamp rice production technologies by the respondents;
- identify perceived factors promoting the level of use of SR production technologies; and
- identify perceived constraints to the use of SR production technologies available to the farmers.
Hypothesis of the study
The null hypothesis was formulated for the study thus:
The socio-economic characteristics of the swamp rice farmers had no significant relationship with the use of available SR production technologies.
1.4 Significance of the study
It is hoped that the findings of this study will help to expose the swamp rice production technologies available to farmers in Enugu state.
The result will be useful to the extension agents by revealing the extent of use of swamp rice production in the area which could help them in future adoption studies.
Policy makers through this study will establish alternative approaches for better rice production. Public knowledge systems will be strengthened to create a balance between providing incentives for private investment in research. This will encourage collaboration between researchers and rice farmers in the analysis of available production technologies and testing of alternative farming practices. The work would also be useful to other researchers who would want to work on similar study