AN OVERVIEW OF AGRICULTURAL MECHANIZATION IN AKWA IBOM STATE; CHALLENGES AND PROSPECT
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This study is an overview of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state in Nigeria. The peasant farmers produce over 90 % of Nigeria’s agricultural output and these peasant dwell in the rural areas wherein about 60 % of the population live. The vast majority of these farmers have serious challenges in accessing modern inputs and other productive resources, including education and they are unlikely to have access to assortment of fertilizers, hybrid seeds and irrigation. This study employed a simple random sampling techniques to collect information on mechanization of agriculture to aid efficiency of farmers.
- Background of the study
Nigeria is one of the largest countries in Africa, with a total geographical area of 923, 768 square kilometers and an estimated population of about 140 million (2006 estimate). It lies wholly within the tropics along the Gulf of Guinea on the western coast of Africa. Nigeria has a highly diversified agro-ecological condition, which makes possible the production of a wide range of agricultural products. Hence, agriculture constitutes one of the most important sectors of the economy. The sector is particularly important in terms of its employment generation and its contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) and export revenue earnings. The struggle for food security for Nigeria and other West African countries through the adoption of concerted policies and actions at both national and international levels points to the need for Nigeria and other West African countries to evolve viable agricultural production options that will ensure sustainable production of food and raw materials for human consumption, agro-based industries and export. Production systems involve the conversion of inputs through the application of energy to useful outputs. In agricultural production, this involves a series of operations from production to processing and which invariably necessitates the use of machines and equipment at every stage. Increased land productivity (greater output/unit area of land) generally depends on the application of higher technology and a higher level of knowledge and management ability. Agricultural mechanization is an instrument of farm management and as such changes in mechanization level can have a multiplier effect on output per unit of land. Agricultural mechanization has now been accepted as the most crucial input not only to increase agricultural productivity and promote industrialization of the rural sector but also to promote the overall economic development of nations. Historically, increase in productivity can be linked with technological changes. To promote agricultural mechanization, therefore, it is necessary that appropriate levels of agricultural mechanization technology are identified, introduced and managed in each agro-climatic zone. It was based on the need to develop “home grown” mechanization technologies that the then Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources established the National Centre for Agricultural Mechanization (NCAM) in 1974 when it realized that only indigenously developed mechanization technologies manufactured and maintained with our local know-how and facilities could best sustain agricultural development in Nigeria. The policy on agricultural mechanization was to encourage the development of efficient “home grown” tools, equipment and systems which improve agricultural production and productivity, relieve the continuously increasing labour constraints, enhance farmer’s income, reduce food imports, increase food export and save foreign exchange. It was envisaged that NCAM would accomplish these tasks through carrying out, among other functions, the standardization and certification of agricultural tools, machines and equipment in Nigeria, as well as testing and evaluating the suitability of all types of imported and locally developed agricultural tools, machines and equipment already in use and those proposed to be used in Nigeria. Thus, there has been a long felt need in Nigeria by the government, concerned institutions, and individuals to use standardization to promote the evolution of appropriate agricultural mechanization through a rapid development of indigenous agricultural tools, machines and equipment, since it has been realized that standardization represents the fastest vehicle’ to integrate agricultural mechanization to technological and economic development of the nation. Agricultural mechanization is a complex field embracing the science of materials and forces of nature in development, exploitation and management of equipment and installation that enhance scientific production in agriculture. Agricultural mechanization does not only mean the use of tractors (tractorization), it also includes the exploitation and management including the selection and replacement, of mechanical facilities and equipment for field production, water control, material handling as well as post-harvest operations .  stated that agricultural mechanization encompasses the use of farm equipment including the power sources that are used to operate the various machines.  take it to imply increase in production per worker and per hectare of land cultivated while others take it to be the act of making judicious use of agricultural inputs such as seeds, irrigation water, fertilizers, fungicide herbicides/insectic ide and farm equipment in order to promote cost efficiency through maximum output and economy of large scale. Agriculture is the most important economic activity in Nigeria, in terms of revenue (apart from oil sector revenue) especially in the rural areas. According to the national survey conducted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture which assessed the quality and quantity of food production and agricultural development in Nigeria in the period 1973- 1985, there was an enormous problem of modernization of the country’s agriculture being devoid of the dissemination of modern technologies for agricultural production
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Much of the stimulus for agricultural mechanization has come from laborer shortages in the more economically advanced countries. Mechanization reduces agricultural labour and can reduce or remove high labour costs in countries where energy is cheap. But for poorer countries, mechanization activities increase costs as a result of high consumption of fuel, diesel, oil, spare parts. The present state of mechanization in Nigeria agriculture is still far from foundational and therefore left much to be done, more so, in the study area. This is because mechanization plan has not been formulated following a well-designed, reliable and thorough analysis. The current level and practice of agriculture in Nigeria is characterized by low level of distribution and utilization of farm machinery and associated implements for farm operation. The government policy on agricultural mechanization was to encourage the development of efficient “home grown” tools, equipment and systems which improve agricultural production and productivity, yet this goal has not been clearly attain because of several factors which range from government policy, illiteracy and poverty. It is in view of this that the researcher intend to investigate the problem and prospect of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria.
- AIM OF THE STUDY
The aim of this study is on overview of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state. With specific interest on the challenges and the prospect.
- OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The main objective of this study is to ascertain the impact of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state, but specific objective are:
- To ascertain the challenges of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state
- To ascertain the role of government in ensuring mechanization of the agricultural production in the state
- To evaluate the benefit of agricultural mechanization on the economic growth of the state
- To proffer suggested solution to the identified problem
- RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
To aid the completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher:
H0: agricultural mechanization has no significant benefit to the economic growth of the state
H1: agricultural mechanization has a significant benefit to the economic growth of the state
H02: there are no significant challenges to mechanization of agriculture in the state
H2: there are significant challenges to mechanization of agriculture in the state
- SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of important to rural agriculturist to take advantage of government support for agricultural mechanization by assessing soft loans and other agricultural fund made available by state and federal government, the study will also be of importance to the student of faculty of agriculture as the study will add to the existing literature o
add to the existing literature in the department. The study will also be of great importance to researcher who wants to embark on research on similar topic as the findings will serve as a reference point to them. Finally the study will be of great importance to the academia and the general public as the study will add to the pool of knowledge
- SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers an overview of agricultural mechanization in Akwa Ibom state, problems and prospect, but in the cause of the study, there were some factors which limited the scope of the study
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities
1.8 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF TERMS
Agriculture is the cultivation and breeding of animals, plants and fungi for food, fiber, biofuel, medicinal plants and other products used to sustain and enhance human life.
Mechanization or mechanization (British English) is the process of changing from working largely or exclusively by hand or with animals to doing that work with machinery.
Mechanized agriculture is the process of using agricultural machinery to mechanize the work of agriculture, greatly increasing farm worker productivity. In modern times, powered machinery has replaced many farm jobs formerly carried out by manual labour or by working animals such as oxen, horses and mules.
1.9 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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