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ECONOMICS OF CUCUMBER PRODUCTION IN IKONO LGA

ECONOMICS OF CUCUMBER PRODUCTION IN IKONO LGA

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

  • Background of the study

Vegetable production is a key activity in rural areas, contributing significantly to employment and income generation, thereby reducing household poverty. Vegetable crops are produced in Nigeria through smallholders and commercial farmers. Production varies from growing a few plants in the yard for domestic consumption to large-scale production of domestic and export markets (Dlova, Fraser and Belete, 2014). Farmers have realized the potential of vegetable production by improving their livelihoods by enabling them to have more money to spend on their basic needs and by encouraging agricultural production. Crop production thus ensures food security, employment and income generation in rural areas, thus reinforcing the overall development and poverty reduction goals of most countries (Heinemann, 2012). Although vegetable production is a common livelihood for many people in Nigeria, it is a relatively new addition to the Nigerian diet. However, vegetable producers face challenges that could be grouped into agronomic and socio-economic factors (Sabo and Zira, 2009).A vegetable is a designation given to this group of horticultural plants grown for human consumption. About two-thirds of the world’s population has a predominantly vegetarian diet.

However, cucumber is a primary source of vitamins and minerals for the human body, but its caloric and nutritional value is very low (Keopraparl, 2009). In addition to providing valuable nutrients, vegetables add variety, taste, color and texture to diets (Rubatzky and Yamaguchi, 2007). Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) is one of the cucurbits and is an important vegetable crop (Eifediyi and Remison 2010). Cucumbers are long, cylindrical, green fruits containing about 95% water. They are therefore often recommended as natural diuretics and useful for bodybuilding. Globally, cucumber is considered a very important crop, however, in tropical Africa; its place has not been ranked because of its limited use (Wilcox, Offor and Omojola, 2015). This is one of the most popular members of the cucurbitacces family. Cucumbers are a valuable source of classic antioxidant nutrients, including vitamin C, beta-carotene, and manganese. It is recognized that an increase in agricultural productivity would help achieve the necessary food security. Cucumbers are classified as accessory fruits but are nevertheless perceived, prepared and eaten as vegetables. Cucumber is an annual crop with deep roots with tendrils and hairy leaves. In typical commercial farms, cucumbers are grown in polythene beds with drip irrigation. Cucumbers are planted all year round. They can be directly seeded or transplanted. Cultivation of vegetables such as cucumber can yield high yields, even on small farmland (Pozderec, Pazek and Bavec, 2010).

Agricultural production is the integration of subsistence farmers into the input and output markets of agricultural products with a view of increasing their income level, hence reduce poverty (Holloway and Ehui 2012). Farmers have been limited from production due to some factors like poor roads, age, lack of market information etc. Boughton, Mather, Barrett, Benfica, Abdula, Tschirtey and Cunguara (2007), and Barrett (2008), sees production as both a cause and a consequence. Also, gender, educational levels, lack of information and ethnicity are also barriers to production. Till date, price-based, top-down macro and trade policy interventions have not been enough to stimulate smallholder participation and agricultural and rural transformation as expected (Barrett, 2008).However, understanding the impact of these policies on small holder farmers participation is important. This study became imperative because vegetables are important sources of food and income. Their cultivation plays significant role in the attainment of food security for a country (FAO, 2015). However, there is a high level of wastage in the production and marketing of vegetables due to inadequate cold storage facilities and lack of processing facilities (Mrema and Rolle, 2012). Post-harvest losses of perishables like vegetables pose serious challenges for the wellbeing of the citizens and endanger the livelihood of farmers involved in their production.

 

1.2 Statement of the problem

Vegetable production in particular suffer the additional pressure (to market the produce immediately) because vegetables are perishable. At present, there is no adequate holding facility for vegetables in the study area that would sustain the freshness of the product. In Nigeria, post-harvest losses of vegetables ranges from 20–40% because of inefficient harvesting techniques, inadequate processing and storage facilities thereby resulting in their unstable supply (Mrema and Rolle, 2012). Cucumber (Cucumis sativus L.) if harvested and not stored immediately or properly, gets spoilt within a short time. There is therefore a downward pressure for farmers to sell cheaply but speedily to wholesalers and assemblers. Distance to markets and lack of roads to get to them (or roads that are impassable at certain times of the year) is a central concern for rural communities throughout the developing world. Access to market is thus a key determinant to household production systems. It is generally accepted that farmers in traditional agriculture are poor but efficient (Ngqangwene, 2010). The emerging farmers face problems related to insecure and fragmented land rights, non-viable and small farm units, lack of infrastructural support etc (Van Rooyen & Mene, 2016). Despite the nutritional and economic benefits cucumber provides to its consumers and producers, this study posit that there is not much research on the profitability of its production in Ikono L.G.A.

1.3 Objective of the study

The general objective of this study is to examine the economics of cucumber production in Ikono L.G.A

Specific objectives of this study are:

  1. To examine the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers
  2. To examine the costs and return and hence profit from cucumber production
  3. To estimate the production function of the farmers
  4. To determine the elasticity of production and hence return to scale
  5. To determine the allocative efficiency of the farmers

1.4 Justification

This study would thus, provide useful information to farmers involved in cucumber production in the state. Researchers will find the study useful for further research on cucumber production and marketing. It will also be a source of reference to students and policy makers. More so, the findings will add to existing literature on the economics of cucumber production. Equally important to note is that the production and marketing of cucumber is complex and challenging because of its peculiarities which include perish ability, seasonality, susceptibility to pest and diseases and standardization requirements. Other challenges include gender issues, labour cost, inadequate energy supply and aging farming population among others.

 

1.5 Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be tested:

H1: output of cucumbers is positively influence by farm size, planting material, labour and capital

H2:The cucumber farmers are not allocatively efficient in the use of resources

H3: There is constant returns to scale

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