Agriculture is rated the most important economic sector in all developing countries.
Particularly, in Nigeria 45-60% of the labour force is engaged in agricultural
activities and agriculture contributes up to 30-40% of the GNP ((The
World Bank, 2008). The importance of Vegetables is both as food and as raw
materials for industries, which also serves for economic interest.
In the past decade the consumption of vegetables in Nigeria had been on the
increase and currently is estimated to about 22-47.58 kg/person/year (Hart
et al., 2005). Talinum triangulare (waterleaf) are among
the most profitable vegetables in Southern Nigeria.
In Nigeria, Talinum triangulare farming is presently one of the most
important works for the majority of the unemployed youths and women of the rural
population. During the past two decades, its cultivation has attracted considerable
attention because of its general acceptability by all classes of people and
its export potential. Talinum triangulare (locally known as waterleaf)
is a highly valued product in Nigeria food markets, among the market women and
housewives (Nya and Eka, 2007). Normally, almost all
the fresh vegetables produced locally are shifted to the thickly populated urban
centres, particularly to Uyo, Calabar, Port Harcourt, Umuahia, Aba, Owerri,
Enugu and Onitsha. The quantity of Talinum triangulare produced in a
year remains rather obscure because production statistics of this produce are
often not kept by the Ministry of Agriculture or the appropriate Governmental
authority. Out of the estimated total cultivable land area of 71.2 m ha-1
(Opabode and Adebooye, 2005) spread across the country,
the total area put under its cultivation nationwide is estimated to be around
30,000 ha, Department of Agronomy, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture,
Umuahia, Nigeria (Oral communication-unpublished). This figure is expected to
rise with the increasing awareness among the people, for its profitability and
production expansion into fadama areas. Talinum farming is mostly concentrated
in Southeast and South-Western Nigeria, mainly among the resourced poor rural
populace. The increase in demand for Vegetables from the nations food
markets and its short production cycles attracted many farmers to switch to
Talinum cultivation in different parts of the country (Nya
and Eka, 2008). As a result, a new farming system has developed in the area
in recent years known as fadama or dry season farming. Talinum cultivation
practice in this area has developed as an indigenous technology, with no planning
and little support or assistance from any outside sources, including the government.
The Department of Agriculture and Natural resources and other agencies have
been slow to respond to the opportunities of this sector, but there have been
encouraging indications that some of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)
and international agencies are beginning to show interest. For example, Agro-based
Industries and Agricultural Development Project (ADP) have been exploring this
area of economy.
The livelihoods of a considerable number of people are associated with farming
in this part of the country. More importantly, vegetable farming, like Fruted
pumpkin, Telfairia occidentalis (Odiaka and Schippers,
2004), Jute mallow Corchorus olitorius (Akoroda,
1985; Akinlosotu, 1977), Lagos spinach Celosia
argentea (Badra, 1993), Bitter leaf Vernonia amygdalina
(Misari, 1992) are popular among the people owing to
the soft texture of their leaves and palatability. Besides these and particularly
Talinum triangulare, other vegetables frequently used in soup preparations
are okro (Abelmoschus esculentus), Amaranthus hybridus-vegetable
of choice, Pterocarpus sp., Okazi Gnetum africanum also popular
among the people and Piper guineense leaves (Hart
et al., 2005).
However, their production is being threatened by a lot of production constraints
including pests and diseases, as they are highly susceptible to both migratory
and sedentary insect species (Schippers, 2000). This is
in contrast to Talinum triangulare, which is considered a cheap crop
and can easily be collected from the wild as vegetable (Opabode
and Adebayo, 2005). They are not agronomically demanding and are suitable
to many soil types. Their farming first started, when in 1983 dry-spell hits
the country and there was dire scarcity of vegetables in the food markets. Adebooye
et al. (2003) reported that most of the Nigeria's indigenous vegetables
are not easily available as farmers now gather them with great drudgery and
difficulty from the few stands that are left in the wild. When a few local farmers
first converted their lands and/or plots into waterleaf farms during the dry
season, they discovered that with few man days for irrigations, application
of some manures and sometimes fertilizers, they were better of having enough
for food and family income. Subsequently, it spread throughout other parts of
states. By 2000, some farmer were doing so well enough to convince other farmers
that they should convert to Talinum farming and the rate of conversions
increased rapidly (Schippers, 2000). This gave rise to
the evolution of Fadama farming system. Now, Talinum farming has been
expanding rapidly in recent years, at an average of 10% of Nigeria's cultivable
arable land area of about 71.2 m ha-1 Opabode
and Adebayo (2005). This land area accommodates several species of Indigenous
Leaf Vegetables (ILVs).
The primary reason for converting land and/or plots into Talinum farms
was for food and later for higher economic returns. Generally, Talinum triangulare
is cultivated for food and has become a major leaf vegetable in view of
its many uses and nutritional contributions to human diets. It is a major source
of vitamins and minerals needed for growth (Nya and Eka,
2008). Most farmers consider its cultivation more profitable than other
vegetables, as it serves for both as food and raw materials for industries,
with attendant economic interest.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Study Area and Data Collections
The Data were obtained from a standardised questionnaires administered to
40 randomly selected vegetables producers in a survey from five states (Abia,
Akwa-Ibom, Cross-river, Ebonyi and Rivers). Supplementary data were obtained
through key personal interviews (n = 20) and field observations.
This area of study was selected base on the resources and as centre of diversity
for the vegetable, couple with prevalent favourable climatic conditions for
vegetable farming. Our previous study had identify the existent of genetically
diverse Talinum species in these areas (Nya and Eka,
2007). More so, it is an important area for Talinum farming because
of the availability of low-lying agricultural land, fertile soil, cheap and
Planting Season and Methods
In the study area, the peak season of Talinum farming is from October
the beginning of the inception of dry season to April, when the conventional
farming season starts. As a short cycle crop, the vegetable become available
immediately few weeks or one month after planting and are harvested primarily
from November to April every year. The planting period is not limited to one
crop annually, but its can be two or three cycle cropping depending on the demand
and frequency of harvest. However, two cropping cycles are common in many states
of the country such as Akwaibom, Cross river, Lagos, Enugu and Rivers (Nya
and Eka, 2007).
Although, the predominant Talinum farming practice is still extensive in the study area, a few farmers (20%) now practice the improved method where plant cuttings are cultivated semi-intensively. Extensive production typically use slightly modified versions of traditional methods and are called low-density system (11,000-18,000 cuttings ha-1) and low-input two cycle system. The system relies mainly on natural productivity of the soil but organic and inorganic fertilizers are occasionally used to promote the growth of natural foods (Ogban and Babalola, 2002). In the context of the study, extensive farming practices generally use organic manure consisting of a mixture of locally available waste products or materials such as rice bran, kitchen remains and farm wastes. In the extensive system, most farm labours are provided from the household of the owner. The extensive farming system is peculiar to developing world, usually where there is abundant supply of inexpensive labour and large areas of suitable land and water are available at low cost, but where capital is relatively scarce (Table 1).
||Land area (ha) put under cultivation of Talinum triangulare
Semi-intensive operations practices intermediate levels of farming in reference
to inputs utilization. Inputs can be classified as material inputs (seed, cuttings,
feed and fertilizer), management inputs and labour input-field labourers.
Economic Analysis of Talinum triangulare Farming
With farm-sourced cuttings and commercially manufactured fertilizers, farm
labour recruited from members of the family or hired day labourers, farmers
in semi intensive and extensive production system maximize the profit potential
of Talinum production. The owner often plays an active management role
in both semi intensive and extensive production system. The extensive production
system is characterized by relatively vast planting hecterage and low inputs
such as commercially manufactured fertilizers and chemicals, which normally
increase the nutrients and organic matter load of the soil. The extensive farming
system is mainly limited by available resources and cost and the farmers
management ability. However, most farmers were found to practice the extensive
farming system in the study area because of poor resources, lack of technical
knowledge and inadequate technical support.
Data Collection Methods
As earlier mentioned, the primary data were gathered by field survey. This
survey involved visit of the study area to administer questionnaires in terms
of Talinum cultivation and production, cost structure and profitability.
It was very difficult to obtain reliable financial data (i.e., costs and returns)
because most farmers did not keep any financial records. Even where farmers
provided financial data, it was based on their >guesswork,= which
might not be accurate. Extra attention was therefore, paid and great care had
to be taken in compiling financial information using different data collection
methods. A combination of participatory, qualitative and quantitative methods
were used for data collection. Data were collected for 8 months from October
2003 to June 2004, during the peak season of waterleaf production or farming.
Participatory Rural Appraisal method was resorted to in most cases. This was
made possible during the Fort Night Training (FNT) program of the various states
Agricultural Development Projects (ADP). Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
is group methods used to collecting information in a participatory mode from
rural communities (Chambers, 1992). The advantage of
PRA over other methods is that it allows wider participation of the community;
therefore, the information collected is likely to be more accurate (Chambers,
1994). For this study, the PRA methodology Focus on Group Discussion
Farmers Group Discussion (FGD) was conducted with and for Vegetable farmers. FGD is a group meeting where people from the target communities discuss selected topics.
The participation of a range of people from the community provides an opportunity
for crosschecking individual opinions as well as allowing the community to discuss
the issues that they feel are important, rather than responding to a questionnaire
(Theis and Grady, 1991). The FGD was used to get an overview
of particular issues such as existing vegetable farming systems, production
costs, outputs and returns and profitability. A total of 5 FGD sessions conducted
were visited in each state where each group consisted of 5-20 farmers (total
100 farmers) and the duration of each session was approximately 3 h. FGD sessions
were held in village/town halls, village squares under shed trees, in contact
farmers houses and in school premises.
Questionnaire interviews usually involve preparation of well understandable
questionnaire and administering the same to targeted respondents or enumerators.
Use of statistical procedures to determine the appropriate sample size and sampling
method. The targeted population in this case was Talinum farmers. The
respondents were 100 farmers in numbers and were chosen from the population
of Talinum farmers through random sampling technique. Data collection
include among other things, bio-data, background information, level of Talinum
production, production cost, constraints, method/system of cultivations /production,
processing, utilization, marketing and profitability.
The pre-survey activities included reconnaissance for the pilot survey and revision of survey instruments and preparation of sampling frame. For the preparation of the questionnaire, visits of Talinum farmers and primary interviews with some of the farmers were conducted.
Attention was paid to include any new information that had not been asked in
the draft schedule. The draft schedule was then modified and improved upon.
Based on experience gained from the pilot survey, Talinum farmers were selected
through stratified random sampling. For this sampling method, a database of
vegetable farmers was collected from Agricultural Extension office and Zonal
ADP offices in the area. A stratified sample is one obtained by dividing the
targeting population into strata, i.e., without overlapping and then selecting
a sample from each stratum (Scheaffer et al., 1990).
The most common reason for stratification is to reduce the sample size needed
to achieve a desired level of precision and reliability (Arens
and Loebbecke, 1981).
Cross-Checking Interviews with Key Informants
A key informant is someone with special knowledge on a particular topic.
Key informants are expected to be able to answer questions about the knowledge
and behaviour of others and about the operations of the broader systems (Theis
and Grady, 1991). For this study, cross-check interviews were conducted
with schoolteachers, contact farmers local leaders, Agricultural extension Agents,
Agricultural Officers and staff of Agriculture Development Project (ADP). The
interviews of respondents were conducted in their offices and/or houses. Where
information was found to be contradictory, further assessment was carried out.
Data Processing and Analysis
Data from questionnaire and interviews were coded and entered into a database
system using Microsoft Excel software. A statistical method Statistical Package
for Social Science (SPSS Version 14.0; SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) for Window
was used for the analysis. Economic analysis was conducted to determine production
costs and returns (Shang, 1990). The analysis was based
on farm-gate prices of harvested vegetable and current local market prices obtained
from food markets in the respective areas and latter converted to US dollars.
The study works within the minimum sample size of 50. Smith
(1982) recommended a threshold sample size of 30 as often needed to established
and maintain adequate degrees of freedom.
Economic Analysis Models
The production function models used to determine the effect of variable
inputs were the Cobb-Douglas production function (National
Research Council NRC, 1979); the function indicates the log linear form
and has many advantages (Smith, 1982; Chong
and Lizarondo, 1982). This stipulates that production elasticity which measures
the responsiveness of output to increase unit of input are identical to the
production coefficients (bi). Thus, a percentage change in output
that is brought about by a given percentage change in used input can be easily
estimated. Secondly, the sum of the production coefficients (Σi bi)
can be shown as a measure of economy of scale. Moreover, input and output data
are normally used to estimate the parameters of the model.
Five variables inputs to include farm size, cuttings, fertilizers, watering
and labours were hypothesized to calculate income from the vegetable farming.
The hypothesis was that using all the input will have effect on the production
as well as on the income from the farm. Regression analysis was used to determine
the effect of these inputs. The Cobb-Douglas function model of the following
form was used for the analysis:
Log Yi = log a+b1 log x1i+b2
log x2i+b3 log x3i+b4 log
x 4i+b5 log x5i+log Ui
where, Y is production (kg/ha/year); a is constant parameter in the equation,
which is mathematically expressed as the intercept; x 1 is farm size
in ha; x2 is plant stands density per ha; x3 is watering
in litre per ha; x4 is fertilizer in kg ha-1; x5
is labour in man-days per ha; b1-b5 are coefficient of
the relevant variables; Ui is random error or regarded as disturbance
term; i is index observations (1, 2, 3, 4-----n).
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Talinum farming could be divided into sub sector of materials procurement,
cultivation and marketing. The procurement sub sector includes market sourcing
for planting materials and other inputs such as fertilizers, watering utensils
and cultivation tools (hoe and cutlasses). The cultivation sector includes production
processes by which Talinum are cultivated, grown and harvested for consumption/marketing.
Finally, the marketing sub sector involves the various marketing intermediaries
by which the cultivated vegetables reached the end users. However, in production,
sustainable and profitable operations can be achieved only through better understanding
of the relevant elements and their interrelationship in the entire production
process. High yield do not depend only on vast area put under cultivation but
on yield potentials which may be as a result of use of improved planting materials
and good management practices (Sanyang et al., 2008).
These practices include pest/diseases control, effective use of fertilizers,
timely operations of farming activities and soil moisture retention and improvement
The survey demonstrated that all respondents cultivated improve Talinum
cultivars in the study area, a range of which are Ntokmfang, Ikpomfang, Afia-mfri
and Nteoka cultivated and harvested around the year using irrigation when and
where necessary. The average planting density varied from 111,111.11 ha-1
in both extensive farming system and semi intensive farming systems (Nya
and Eka, 2007). Although, almost all farmers visited produced Talinum
integrated with other crops or vegetables such as Manihot sp., Capsicum
sp., Telfairia esculentum, Crucifera and Amarath sp., few
semi-intensive farmers practices sole or monocropping. Indeed, integrating Talinum
with other crops is only desirable from environmental point of view and to lesser
extent economic reasons. Principally, in Nigeria this type of farming system
tends to be more profitable and also favourable than monocropping in view of
the fact that it tends to guide against the risk of putting all of ones eggs
in one basket. However, this system borrows a leave from the alley cropping
system developed by researchers from the International Institute of Tropical
Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, Nigeria. In which case, crops are grown in alleys
along the contours formed by hedgerows planted 3-4 m apart, of leguminous shrubs
such as leucaena Leucaena leucocephala, which are periodically pruned
during cropping season to prevent shading and the prunings are used as mulch
and green manure for the associated food crops or vegetables or both (Kang
et al., 1981). Sometimes, the leaves are used as fodders during the
dry season. The leguminous shrubs with their deep rooted systems are also able
to recycle soil nutrient, check water runoff and soil erosion (Hauser
and Kang, 1993; Juo et al., 1994) couple
with dual benefit of reducing of soluble and exchangeable Alluminum (AI) complexes
in the soil (Wong et al., 1995; Hue
and Amien, 1989).
However, it could be stated that the nutrient levels in major soil of the tropics
are inherently low. In this case, crop production especially vegetables are
interestingly dependent on nutrient recycling and biological fixation of atmospheric
nitrogen (N2). Thus, sustainable Talinum farming in this area
must strongly depend on application of organic input and recycling. Moreover,
soil management strategies in this area and indeed in the tropics would highly
emphasized environmentally friendly systems based upon the resources available
to farmers (Steiner, 1984; Juo and
Kang, 1989; Franzluebbers et al., 1998; Renard
et al., 1997).
Farm size plays an important role in farming profitability as it reflect
the availability of capital and management skills of the farmers which has to
do with his/her potential to operate and use resources efficiently. Regardless
of the farming systems, the average farm size i.e. total land area put under
cultivation of Talinum was found to be between 4-10 ha in all the surveyed
farming areas in question. The single largest Talinum farm size was 0.40
ha and the smallest was 0.06 ha in all the study area.
The essence of using fertilizers in Talinum farming is to argument
and creates soil condition that would help increase the productivity and quality
of produce. In general, Talinum farmers use mainly two types of inorganic
fertilizer namely Urea and NPK, off course, the only available types. The organic
fertilizer used ranges from green manuring to animal dungs. Their uses helps
increases the growth of Talinum for harvest at three weekly intervals
throughout the production cycle. In all production areas, most respondent about
20% uses inorganic fertilizers. This is low as compare to 80% respondents using
organic fertilizers at varying frequencies. This discrepancy may be due to cost,
availability of the product, lack of technical knowledge and capital (Mcintire,
1986; Bumb and Baanate, 1996).
According to our investigation, the average annual yield of Talinum
was estimated to be 600 kg/ha/crop cycle in 2002, varying from 833 kg ha-1
in an extensive farming systems to about 1453 kg ha-1 in the semi-intensive
farming in 2003, with a clear significant difference (p<0.05) between the
two production/farming systems. There are three cropping cycles of Talinum
per annum. It was revealed that some inter-dependent factors affected growth
and productivity of Talinum vegetable, among which are plants density,
fertilization, management factors including labour inputs, watering schedules
and environmental factors. Moreover, farm size holding, production cycles which
has to do with the time interval at which the crops are harvested also influences
the total yield. It is hope that with technical support and adequate extension
services, the average productivity of Talinum in these study areas will
be higher than before. Higher production can be realized by further improving
the existing farming systems and practices, removing bottlenecks in supporting
services or a combination of both alternatives.
The cost of production in any farming ventures consist of and is a function
of cost and level of inputs, cultivation systems and institutional supports
such as cost of credit and marketing strategies (Shang and
Tisdell, 1997). In the present study, data on yield, costs and returns of
Talinum farming were collected to evaluate the production cost and assessed
the profitability there of. A comparison of the breakdown components of production
costs provides a better understanding of the cost structure and relative production
efficiency. We compare the production cost of the two farming systems. This
indicated that productivity varies between the farming systems arising from
the differences in resource allocation. However, production costs are grouped
into: fixed cost and variable costs. The later i.e., variable costs are directly
related to the scale of farm operation at any given time. In this present study,
variable cost are cost of improved planting materials (cuttings/seeds), fertilizers/
organic manure, water for irrigations and labours hired for farming operations,
harvesting and marketing. The average annual variable cost in extensive farming
systems were estimated to be USD 643.93 ha-1 compared to USD 900.39
ha-1 in semi-intensive farming system (Table 2).
Human labours and fertilizers are the two major cost items in Talinum
production. The average cost of fertilizer was estimated to be USD 464.29 ha-1
varying from USD 235.00 in extensive farming system to USD 522.86 in semi intensive
farming system. Whereas labours being the important and widely used input in
the production process of Talinum farming normally compose of family
labour, which is always free, no payment is made.
||Production cost of Talinum triangulare farming in 2003
|Values within parenthesis are amount in USD dollars, exchange
rate $1.00 = 140.00 Naira
Hired labours attract payment of cash, sometimes, food; beverages given to
hired labours are costed and taken into considerations to determine the actual
cost of labour. However, to determine the cost of free family labour, opportunity
cost principle was adopted. Opportunity cost principles refer to the alternative
cost associated with forgone engagements. This gives an insight into an implicit
price relationship between competing alternatives. According to Hulse
et al. (1982) opportunity cost of human labour is its values in its
best alternatives uses or the return forgone by not participating in the best
alternative job. For the purpose of this study, a man day was considered at
8 h of work engagement. The average wages rate then was estimated at USD 1.50
day-1 varying from USD1.00 day-1 to 1.70 day-1.
The average annual cost of labour were estimated at USD150.00 ha-1 for extensive farming system and USD300.00 ha-1 for semi-intensive system. The total labour requirement for 1 ha of farms covering all the production processes amounted to 105 man days, including family labour. However, it was revealed that most respondents about 40% do not harvest the crop themselves because of lack of necessary equipment and the strenuous mode of the work. Therefore, harvesting is usually hired out to local labours, sometimes, harvested products (vegetables) are used to settle the hired labours and its money equivalents estimated for records purpose. According to our survey, a breakdown of the labour cost showed that the average cost of harvesting and marketing of Talinum varied between USD24.70 ha-1 in extensive farming system and USD40.00 ha-1 in semi-intensive systems. Pests such as Zonocerus variegatus, aphids and crickets are common problems of this vegetable in the study areas, unlike disease which are rare. This necessitates the use of pesticides which attract additional cost. Thus, other variables costs or miscellaneous costs were calculated to about USD6.80 ha-1 on the average in extensive farming system, compared to USD10.60 ha-1 in the semi-intensive farming system (Table 2).
Fixed costs involved in Talinum production or farming consist of
depreciation of equipment and tools i.e. water pump, water-can, head-pan/basin
and wheel barrow; land used cost and interest on operating capital or loan calculated
at 15% annum-1. Land use costs were estimated using the concept of
valuation of land at its rental price. According to our survey, the average
annual fixed cost for Talinum farming varied from USD230.00 ha-1
in extensive farming system to USD360.00 ha-1 in semi-intensive farming
system (Table 2).
The results in Table 2 showed that the total costs of
Talinum farming of all sampled farmers in the surveyed areas were on
the average of USD873.93 ha-1, varying from USD1070.00 ha-1
in extensive farming system to USD1260.36 ha-1 in the semi-intensive
system, with variable and fixed costs estimated at USD643.93 ha-1
and USD230.00 in the extensive system, respectively. The variable cost on the
average amounted to 74% of the total cost in extensive farming system and about
71% in the semi-intensive farming system. Among these, the costs of planting
materials, fertilizers/manures, labours and other miscellaneous costs considered
as variable costs averaged 0.78, 55, 2.30, 17.16 and 0.78% of the total cost,
Fixed costs average 26.32% of the total cost in extensive farming systems and
26.56% in semi-intensive farming systems. The costs of depreciations, land use
and interest on loan valued at 3.27, 8.17 and 4.50% of the total costs, respectively.
There was indication that the costs of production in semi-intensive farming
systems are higher as compared to extensive farming system. Almost all respondents
interviewed reported the cost of production had increased notably in recent
years. The overall cost of production in the study areas, showed higher increases
in Port Harcourt area than Umuahia, followed by Uyo farming area.
The Gross Income (GI) from the farms is affected by the level of production
and its market price. The market price of any vegetables mainly depends on quality,
bundle size/weight, seasons, demand and supply. The Gross income was seen as
the function of the total production and prevailing markets price. The GI was
estimated by calculating and multiplying the total amount sold and those consumed
by its market price; the realized amount was converted to United State dollar
USD kg-1 rated at naira N140.00 to USD1.00 exchange rate. The average
market price of Talinum was estimated at USD1.50 kg-1. Interestingly,
increasing farms productivity was one way to increasing GI; this depended on
the use of improved planting materials and fertilizers/manures, besides other
human and environmental factors.
However, the annual GI of Talinum farming of all sampled farmers averaged USD1250.00 in extensive farming systems to USD2180.00 in semi-intensive farming system (Table 3). There was a significant difference (p<0.05) in the GI between the two farming systems. Unlike semi-intensive, the extensive farming systems witnesses relatively low level income per unit cost of input, perhaps due to limited input devoted to it.
The aim of any sustainable farm ventures should be to maximize its net returns
in the long run and in a sustainable way. Shang and Tisdell
(1997) reported that increased income of any farms depends on increase production
and the existence of a potential markets and marketing system. At the farm level,
net income is affected by the level of production, farm price and operating
costs. However, reduced production cost relative to farm productivity which
gives rise to increase farm revenue are major steps to increasing net returns
(Shang and Tisdell, 1997). According to our survey and
investigation, the annual net return per ha of Talinum farms averaged
USD376.07 in extensive farming system and USD919.64 in the semi-intensive systems
(Table 3). With respects to extensive farming system, the
net return is low because of low inputs which attract lower production as compared
to the other system. Almost all respondents reported having low returns as cost
of inputs had increased over the recent years without corresponding increases
in the price of Talinum vegetable.
Income above Variable Costs
In most cases, farmers production decision is based on the expected
net returns; sometimes refer to income above variable costs. However, fixed
cost or investments are considered as sunk costs, which may not be recovered
in a very short time of at least one farming season or production cycle.
||Economic indicators of Talinum triangulare farming
|Values within parenthesis are amount in USD dollars
The income above variable costs was calculated to be USD606.07 ha-1
in extensive farming systems compared to USD1279.61 ha-1 in the semi-intensive
system (Table 3). It was indicated that Talinum farmers
were able to make positive returns to variable costs, showing that both systems
are profitable as the returns to variable costs were positive.
Rate of Income
The rate of farm income is referred to and calculated as the net return
divided by gross revenue multiplied by 100. This varies from 30% in extensive
system to 42% in semi-intensive system (Table 2).
Benefit Costs Ratio BCR
This also referred to as profitability index and is defined as gross revenue
divided by total costs of Talinum farming. However, in this case, a ratio
of 1 is normally an indicator that the venture is at breakeven position. The
result in Table 3 showed that the BCR of all sample farmers
gives 1.43 in the extensive farming system, showing that the farmers are able
to recover same per every USD1.00 invested. Whereas in the semi-intensive system,
the value increases to 1.72. However, Talinum farmers with BCR greater
than 1 have greater benefit than liability to make.
The regression results showed that the coefficient of multiple determinants
(R2) for the both farming systems varies from 0.6 to 0.7 indicating
that 61-70% of the total production variation could be explained by the 5 independent
variables involved in the model. It also indicated that variables excluded from
the venture accounted for 30-39% of the total variables. The calculated F-values
of all equations are significant showing that all the variables involved are
extremely important for explaining the variations inherent in both farming systems.
The selected production function has adequate degree of freedom d.f, for testing
the probability level of significance. However, farm size is a key factor in
determining the extent of care and management of Talinum farms, which
has to do with the use of farm inputs. The estimated coefficient of farm size
is 0.3 in both the extensive and semi-intensive farming systems respectively
(Table 4). Taking another example, in the extensive farming
system; the estimated coefficient of planting materials (cuttings/seeds) was
0.4. This showed that increasing this input by 1% and keeping other factors
constant, would increased production by 0.4%.
||Mean values of regression coefficients and related statistics
of the cobb-douglas production functions
Equally, the production coefficient of fertilizers in the semi-intensive farming
system was 0.2, which showed that increasing fertilizers input by 1 % and keeping
other factors constant would increase production by 0.2%. In line with this,
is also the production coefficient of all other inputs (Table
Interestingly, the summation of the entire production coefficient (Σibi) in the extensive farming system is equal to 1.4 which is greater than 1. This showed that the function exhibit increasing returns to scale, signifying that any percentage increase in all the inputs specified in the function will lead to increase in farm production by a larger proportion. Take for instance, as earlier pointed out, if all the inputs are increased by 1%, production will definitely increase by 1.4%. Similarly, if all the inputs are increased by 1%, production will increase by 1.2% in the semi-intensive farming system. It could be stated therefore, that the Cobb-Douglas production function model demonstrated that production variables have significant effects on farms productivity as well as farm incomes in the two farming systems. The return to scale showed that there are enough scope to increase production and income from the Talinum farms using any of the two farming systems.
Production and Marketing Constraints of Talinum Farming
A number of constraints were reported by almost all the respondents to include
poor resources, scarcity of improved planting materials, poor technical knowledge,
water scarcity, theft and pests problems and inadequate credit facilities. According
to our investigations, the most single constraints to Talinum farming
were said to be lack of money for embarking on this farming ventures, seconded
by pest including theft which in recent times constitute a bane in the progress
of rural farmers.
The survey closely investigated access to financial resources at the disposal of farmers and found out that about 50% of respondents cited NGOs as the major helpful agent in this respect, 20% mentioned produce associations, for example, Cassava grower associations, Rice grower association and Talinum grower association and so on, through the monthly contributions of members (Osusu). Bank loans did not feature as popular sources of funding. The idea of organizing farmers into produce and marketing associations or groups seek to help producers grow good quality crops, have easy access to market, eliminate middle man and sell their goods at a fair price. Farmers organizations protect the interest of their members to advantage, disseminates technical knowledge and skills among members among others.
In Nigeria, the main sources of income for 70% of the populace comes from agricultural sector, of which fruit and vegetables production contributes about 30% of the sector. This is usually cultivated by small and resource poor rural farmers whose main sources of livelihood is farming. The sector provides food, family income, foreign exchange and raw materials for the growing industries. Small scale farmers in general play significant role in this respects, producing mostly vegetables as compared to cereals, root crops and pulses.
Vegetables is said to score high among the most widely grown crops in developing
countries (AVRDC, 2003). In terms of value of production,
vegetables ranked amongst the cereals, root crops and grain legumes. However,
a well founded vegetable sector can lead to vibrant economic growth and opportunities,
support agribusiness and related service industries, creating employment opportunities
for women and youths. In developing countries resourced poor farmers produce
most of the vegetables supply to the market. These farmers are confronted with
numbers of production issues. For instance, in adverse climatic conditions they
faces difficulties to be self-dependent on supply of irrigation water, leading
to short fall in production of primary commodities i.e., vegetables to the market
(Sumberg et al., 2004). The level of Talinum
production was attributed to some inherent factors, ranging from sustainable
soil conditioning with organic manuring/inorganic fertilizers to application
of good management practices and skills. Mixed farming method as against monocropping
is widely practise, tailored to meeting the specific needs of the farmers and
stems the prevailing environmental challenges of the tropics. However, lack
of capital had prevented most farmers to engage in meaningful farming ventures,
despite the awareness of farming as the potential means of creating wealth among
the people. The study urged the government to do more by training and providing
adequate extension services to help improve farms profitability and reduced
risk to farming business. Furthermore provide easy access to interest-free credits
or loans at low interest rate to farmers as a way of encouragement to farming
as a business.
However, based on the finding of this study, we conclude that increase in yields is the main means to increasing profit in Talinum farming ventures. And based on the Cobb-Douglas production function model, production factors such as farm size, improve planting materials (Cuttings/seeds), fertilizers/manures, water and labours are all seen to influence yields and profitability in Talinum farming.
The Corresponding author is grateful to the Akwa-Ibom state ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources for funding HOS/ES/DMMT/S/43/S.29/87 and other logistics to embark on the study.