Adoption and economic assessment of Integrated Striga Management (ISM) technologies for smallholder maize farmers in Northern Nigeria.
Hassan, Muhammad Bello.
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The agricultural sector plays a crucial role in Nigeria. According to a recent report released by the Food and Agriculture organisation and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the agriculture sector contributed only 20% to Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the year 2014. The sector remains critical to national food security, wealth creation, employment generation and above all poverty reduction, as over 70% of the workforce is engaged in the sector either directly or indirectly. However, the sector is being constrained by many factors. Significant among them are the infestation of the parasitic weed, Striga, drought, low soil nitrogen and climate change. Globally, the estimate of the land area affected and under threat by Striga spp. is about 44 million hectares (ha) of cultivable land. This weed impinges on the livelihoods of more than 100 million smallholder farmers. Striga mostly affects land planted with cereals, which lead to a substantial loss of cereal yield ranging between 10% and 100%, depending on crop and variety. Host plants severely affected are cowpea and cereals like rice and sugarcane. Cereal is usually the most severely damaged crops, followed by cowpea. The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) estimated that over 822,000 ha of maize farms in Nigeria is infested by Striga, which represents about 34% of the total farmland in Africa. Striga decreases maize productivity by 20% to 100%, sometimes leaving farmers with no harvest and little or no food. Based on the initial study output obtained in the Bauchi and Kano states, the major constraints plaguing maize and cowpea growing areas in the study region were identified to be Striga, stem borers, termites, storage insects, low and erratic rainfall, water logging, and low input. The majority of farmers (over 80%) in the surveyed states reported Striga as the most important constraint upon maize production. As a result of the intensity of Striga’s occurrence in northern Nigeria and its damaging effect on cereal and legume crops, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) commissioned and initiated an Integrated Striga Management in Africa (ISMA) project in collaboration with the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), the Bayero University Kano (BUK), the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), the Kano State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (KNARDA) and the Bauchi State Agricultural Development Programme (BSADP). The ISMA is an extension project being implemented in two states, Kano and Bauchi, with a lag period of four years, starting from 2011-2014. Specifically STR varieties and other Striga management technologies needed to be developed in order to curb with Striga problems. This action was essential considering the economic importance of cereal production, particularly maize, and the magnitude of investment made towards improving maize production such as doubling the maize project via the Federal Government and donor agencies in northern Nigeria. There is a need to understand why many farmers are not adopting the ISM technologies despite its suitability and ease of application. At this stage, there is also a lack of research on the prospect of adoption and the economic benefits of using ISM technologies in northern Nigeria. This study was, therefore, an attempt to address these knowledge gaps. Furthermore, it provided an opportunity to draft relevant policy and management implications to inform future strategies in the agricultural sector, particularly in maize production. The specific objectives of the study were (i) to identify the socioeconomic characteristics of maize-producing households and their perceptions of ISM technology attributes in the study area; (ii) to determine factors influencing farming households’ potential adoption and intensity of adoption of ISM technologies in the study area; (iii) to estimate the potential impact of ISM technology adoption on livelihood improvement, income and food security of maize-farming households in the study area; and (iv) to assess the financial and economic profitability, and identify the constraints upon the adoption of ISM technologies at smallholder farm level in the study area. The data used for this study were collected by means of a multi-stage sampling procedure from a cross-section of 643 respondents selected from 80 communities (353 adopters and 290 non-adopters from both project intervention areas (PIAs) and non-project intervention areas (NPIAs). The results revealed a significant overall adoption rate of 55% of the targeted population in the study area. The difference in performance in terms of adoption between PIAs and NPIAs was 11%. The results demonstrated the effectiveness of on-farm trial evaluations with farmers through organized field days. Thus, the scaling out of the technologies to NPIAs will help potential adopters to make more informed decisions in eliminating Striga. In addition to on-farm trials and field days, the improvement of public knowledge about ISM technologies can be achieved through mass public education and awareness programmes. Results from the double hurdle regressions showed that the estimated coefficients of exogenous income and distance to extension office had a negative impact on adoption. Higher total farm income, polygamous households, past participation in on-farm trials, awareness of the technology, contact with extension agents and access to cash remittances had a positive impact and are the most significant factors likely to influence ISM technology adoption. Marital status, household size, farm size and access to cash remittances are the most significant factors influencing adoption intensity. Maize farmers in the study area, who adopted ISM technologies, were found to have obtained higher output than non-adopters, resulting in a positive and significant effect on their total farm income. Hence, policies targeted at increasing maize productivity through Striga management need to include ISM technologies as a potentially feasible option. This study recommends actions to improve farmers’ access to financial services in order to increase their liquidity. Nevertheless, immediate action will be an improvement in farmers’ access to extension services, as they have demonstrated to be a reliable source of information in rural areas. Results from the TE regression model indicated that adoption of ISM technologies played a positive role in enhancing farm productivity of rural households, with adopters producing about 47% higher maize output than that of non-adopters (p<0.001) after controlling for selection bias and endogeneity. Also, the result from the Foster-Greer-Thorbecke (FGT) index showed that adopters are not as poor in terms of household income per adult equivalent when compared to non-adopters. The result from the endogenous switching regression (ESR), which accounts for heterogeneity in the decision to adopt or not, indicated that ISM technologies have a positive effect on farmers’ income, as measured by farm income levels per adult equivalent. It was also found that ISM adoption increased farming income by 66%, although the impact of technology on farming income was smaller for farm households who did adopt the technology than for those who did not adopt it. In the counterfactual situation, however, if non-adopters had adopted the technology, they would have gotten more benefit than adopters. It implies that the integrated approach to Striga management is beneficial to smallholder farmers and need to be scaled out to other areas prone to Striga. Results from the economic impact analysis also indicated that gross margins (GM), benefit-cost ratio (BCR), and net benefit per capita for the ISM technologies are all positive across all locations. Therefore, farmers can recover their costs and maintain a positive balance. The highest GMs made ISM technologies a viable, profitable, bankable and potential option for northern Nigeria which is prone to Striga. ISM technologies guarantee significantly higher yields than local practices. Thus, the long-term economic worth indicators showed that ISM technologies could lead to increased income and poverty reduction. Also, its net present value (NPV), BCR and net benefits per capita are attractive. ISM technologies, especially maize-legume rotation with STR maize and Imazapyr-resistant maize (IRM), should occupy a central role in the design of Striga eradication campaign initiatives and sustainable management in maize fields. ISM technologies should therefore be prioritised, particularly in the Striga-infested areas of northern Nigeria. In general, findings from the study proved the need to support the provision of extension services, on-farm trials and field demonstration to remote areas, as the results suggest that distance to the extension office do influence adoption of ISM technologies. In an effort to enhance farmers’ access to ISM technologies, the public sector needs to take the lead in technology promotion and dissemination at the initial stages and create an enabling environment for effective participation of the private sector. Awareness campaigns for ISM technologies, combined with the improvement of appropriate access to these technologies and corresponding inputs, and accessible rural micro-finances at reasonable costs will offer the most likely policy mix to accelerate and expand the adoption of ISM technologies. While awareness of ISM technology is a major problem, it is clear that the availability of seed (for seed-based technologies) is a serious issue. Therefore, improvement in the Nigerian seed sector is required to boost adoption. High risk and fear of failure are related to farmers’ risk aversion. All technologies requiring cash investment reflect a face of fear and risk constraint for most farmers.