STRATEGIES FOR IMPROVING RICE PRODUCTION AMONG THE RURAL FARMERS IN ABAKALIKI LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF EBONYI STATE .
Background of the Study
The importance of rice in the Nigerian economy cannot be over-emphasized Despite the abundant natural resources available, the country still cannot meet its local rice needs and expends huge foreign exchange earnings on rice importation. The inability to attain self- sufficiency in rise production is as a result of several major constraints in the rice industry (nwakpu,2003).
According to Goodluck Ebele Jonathan the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, who maintained the possibility of wealth creation on Agriculture and agitation for diversified economy to reduce dependence on crude oil as Nigeria’s major export. The objective of the country is to promote exports in Agricultural value chains and also to add value to different crops such as cassava, sorghurn, oil palm, cocoa, cotton. And to gain self-sufficiency in rice production (Jonathan, 2011).
Then, strategy according to Dubay (1990), is a way of organizing different techniques to accomplish a major vision. A strategy in the context of this study is an elaborate and systematic plan of action designed to achieve a major vision in the area of rice production (Uguru, 2003).
Rural farmers are those farmers that operate at subsistence level, and make use of crude implements, family labour in their Agricultural practices (Iwena, 1998).
Rice (graminae Oryzae) belongs to the family poaceae. The most cultivated species are the Oryza sativa and Oryza glaberrima. (Uguru, 1996). Oryza sativa belongs to the tropics and is generally grown in wet and waterlogged areas. The oryza glaberrima is believed to have originated from around swampyland of the river Niger in west Africa. (Uguru 1998).
Rice is often regarded a unique crop in the sense that it has potential to produce high calorie food value per unit area on different soil types,and varying water level (nwakpu 2003). Rice is the main staple food for a large segment of the world population. Apart from being an important source of food for man, it is increasingly being used as a constituent of animal feed (Akinsanmi, 1998). The outer layer (husk) of rice grain which is normally removed during polishing is used in the form of poultry feed because it contains proteins and vitamins. Socially, rice easily finds favour among the rural and urban consumers, especially the urban drewellers who greatly desire the simple and less burdensome nature of the food preparation. These attributes account for rice being ranked high in the diet of many. (Nwakpu, 2003).
Under the current demographic scenario in which the population of most nations especially the developing countries (including Nigeria) is growing at an alarming rate, and food imports generally known not to be a sustainable option for solving the food problem of the developing nations, efforts to achieve food security and higher cash income should be directed torwards increasing the production of certain crop types. Most important of such crops is rice which has the potential to support more people per unit of land area than other crops. (nwakpu 2003).
However, efforts aimed at incremental rice production can only be meaningful when the constraints to its production are removed (Nwakpu, 2003).
Statement of the problem
Despite the huge economic resources channeled to agricultural sector, much is still needed from the rural farmers to ensure stability in food supply to the nation’s teaming population, and to remove problems that can threaten Nigeria’s vision 20:20:20 attempt at achieving transformation in Agricultural sector. These transformation agenda includes:
- Moving agriculture from traditional to modern agriculture, as a business for both small and large scale farmers.
- Promoting exports in agricultural value chains.
iii. To create wealth from agriculture
- To create greater employment for Nigerian youths (Jonathan, 2011).
However, efforts made at improving rice production can only be meaningful when the constraints to its production are removed (Nwakpu, 2003).
Then, the worries of the researcher is how to introduce adequate strategies for improving rice production among the rural farmers in Abakaliki L.G.A, to reduce poverty, unemployment, hunger and low production and also to reduce the effect of importation on the nation’s economy.
There is therefore need to embrace improvements in the area of rice production in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi state.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of the study is to determine the strategies for improving rice production in Abakaliki Local Government Area, specifically the study sought to:
- Determine the readily available productive land for rice farming in Abakaliki Local Government Area
- Determine the adoption of appropriate methods by the rural farmers in Abakaliki Local Government Area.
- Ascertain the adequate use of improved seed varieties to the rural rice farmers in Abakaliki Local Government Area.
- Determine the appropriate preventive measures for diseases and pests of rice.
Significance of the Study
The following group of people will benefit form this study: rice farmers, young researchers, rice consumers, extension workers, and policy makers.
This study will be beneficiary to rice farmers because it will provide them with current technical information on the diverse field, socio-economic and constraints to increased rice production in the country vis aviz their recommended solutions. The study will benefit the rice consumers by increasing the quality and quantity of their calorie intake .
Young researchers who might desire to carry out a research on a related topic will also be provided with useful empirical data. Finally this study will enable agricultural policy makers to make more meaningful and petinent policies for improving rice production in the study area, and in the country at large.
Moreover, the study will help the government to know the various strategies that can be adopted to improve rice production in the country.
Scope of the Study
This study covers only the rice farmers in Abakaliki Local Government Area of Ebonyi state. The study is specifically on the adequate strategies for improving rice production in Abakaliki Local Government Area.
The research questions are:
- How will readily available productive land, for rice farming improve rice production?
- How will adequate methods used by the rural farmers improve rice production?
- How will adequate use of improved seed varieties, improve rice production?
- What are the appropriate preventive measures for pest and diseases of rice?