Analysis of Rural Farmers’ Use of Improved Cocoyam Production Practices in South-South, Nigeria.
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The unavailability of adequate empirical data necessitated this study of analysis of rural farmers‟ use of improved cocoyam production practices in South-South, Nigeria with coverage States such as Cross River, Delta and Edo. The study described the socioeconomic characteristics of rural farmers, identified the improved cocoyam production practices and determined the extent of rural farmers‟ use of improved cocoyam production practices among others. A total of 411 contact cocoyam farmers sampled through multi-stage technique provided data for the study using structured questionnaire. Data were analyzed using statistical tools as frequency table, percentage, mean, ordinary least square multiple regression model, Chi Square and Z-test. The results of the analyses showed that majority (40.88%) of the farmers were within the age range of 41-50years with mean age of about 45years, literate (45.50%), average household size of 8, mean farming experience of 12years and visited 1time per month by extension workers (47.45%). Farmers were members of social organizations (48.18%), had mean farm size of 1hectare, did not obtain credit (65.45%) and dominated by women (54.01%). Majority of the farmers were aware and used most of the improved cocoyam production practices like harvesting method (99.70%), time of planting (99.08%), planting depth (97.56%), recommended plant spacing (97.28%), cocoyam minisetts technique (96.51%), cocoyam intercropping technique (94.81%) and method of fertilizer application (92.46%). The farmers‟ major source of information on improved cocoyam production practices was through cooperative societies. The extent of use of the practices was high with an average mean score of 2.4 and an agreed mean perception of about 3.4. The result of hypothesis I showed that the independent variables such as educational level (1.925), household size (3.636), farming experience (2.881) and membership of social organization (3.883) were significant with the farmers‟ use of improved cocoyam production practices with an R2 value of 0.658 and 2 .633 F-ratio while hypothesis II showed that, the farmers‟ perception of improved cocoyam production practices was significant at 1% level of probability and hypothesis III result of Z-test showed that, the improved cocoyam production practices by farmers increased significantly their output (1832.78kg) and income (N177326.75). Farmers‟ use of improved cocoyam production practices were constrained by inadequate credit facilities (86.1%), pests and diseases (83.5%), declinig soil fertility (5 2.8%) and weeds menance (43.8%). It was recommended that extension education campaign prgrammes should be carried out by agricultural extension department to sustain the farmers‟ use of improved cocoyam production practices.