ADOPTION PROSPECTS AND CHALLENGES OF RICE-CUM-FISH FARMING TECHNOLOGY IN THE LOW-LAND PLAINS OF SOUTHERN NIGERIA
This study examined the adoption prospects and challenges of rice-cum-fish production technology among rice and fish farmers in selected States in southern Nigeria (Delta, Edo, Lagos and Ondo States). Specifically, it examined the socio-economic characteristics of rice and fish farmers; ascertained their awareness of and willingness to adopt rice-cum-fish technology; estimated the factors affecting their willingness to adopt the technology and examined the constraints that might hamper their adoption of the technology. A multi-stage sampling procedure was used to select 720 respondents (i.e.163 fish farmers and 557 rice farmers) while questionnaire/interview schedule was used to obtain data from them. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics (means, standard deviation and percentage) and inferential statistics (logit regression and binomial test). The result showed that majority of the rice farmers (71.27%) and fish farmers (80.98%) were male, fairly young (mean age range was 40 and 43 years for the fish and rice farmers respectively), married (about 85% for both the rice and fish farmers), formally educated (94.5%) and (96.3%) for the rice and fish farmers), while both farmers’ group had an average household size of 8, and over 10 years farming experience. More than half the respondents were not aware of the rice-cum-fish technology, comprising (fish farmers = 51.53%; and rice farmers = 56.73%). However, most of the respondents (95.71% for fish farmers and 87.25% for rice farmers) expressed willingness to adopt the technology. Majority of the fish farmers (63.19%) had a high perception of the potential benefits associated with the rice-cum-fish technology; while (53.86%) of the rice farmers had a lower perception of the benefits associated with the technology. The potential constraints to the farmers’ adoption of the rice-cum-fish technology included inadequate finance, lack of technical competence, perceived difficulty associated with the practice and limited land. Significant determinants of the rice farmers willingness to adopt the rice-cum-fish technology were age (b = -0.060), education (b = -0.253), income (b = -0.779), awareness of rice-cum-fish technology (b = 1.919) and perception of the potential benefits of the technology (b = 0.084). For the fish farmers, the only significant factor was their farming experience (b = -0.388). Binomial test reveals that the rice farmers level of awareness of the rice-cum-fish production technology was significantly low (43%); among the rice farmers; however, there was no significant difference in the proportion of fish farmers who were aware (48.47%) and ignorant (43.27%) of the technology. Binomial test results also revealed that a significant proportion of the fish farmers (96%) and rice farmers (87%) were willing to adopt the rice-cum-fish technology. Rice-cum-fish production technology therefore, has great potential or prospects for adoption in the coastal wetlands in the study area if popularized. The study provided baseline information on the farmers’ awareness and perception of the technology as well as willingness to adopt the production technology. To enhance uptake of this technology, farmers should be trained on the rice-cum-fish production technology and linked to credit sources.
1.1 Background to the Study
The practice of integrating aquaculture and agriculture, also referred to severally as Integrated Agri-Aquaculture Systems (IAAS) (Gooley and Gavine, 2003), Integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) (Miller et al., 2006) or Integrated Agri-Aquaculture Systems (IAAS) (Edwards et al., 2003), is vital for all year-round food production where farming households face food insecurity (Tran et al., 2013). Integrated Agriculture Aquaculture (IAA) is defined as concurrent or sequential linkages between two or more aquaculture and agricultural activities where linkages are directly on-site (Prein, 2002). IAA includes the integration of fish, rice, vegetables, fruits, and livestock (FAO, 2001) is a relatively recent development in Nigeria. Integrated agri-aquaculture systems (IAAS) link aquaculture to conventional farming systems. The development of such systems, according to Gooley and Gavine (2003), Ahmed et al. (2012) and Tran et al. (2013) has been driven by different needs in different parts of the world, including a desire to improve food security on small, subsistence family farms or to minimize pollution and use valuable resources (such as water) more efficiently and effectively.
Miller et al. (2006) Integrated irrigation-aquaculture (IIA) is only beginning in Nigeria. With poor agricultural extension services in the country, there has been little effort at increasing public awareness for viable integration of agricultural activities, even though the benefits to rural farmers have been well documented during the past twenty years. Benefits of IIA include increased yield, improved water management with multiple-use of water, heightened synergies, increased revenues and poverty reduction. However, this situation is changing with the paradigm shift towards a private sector-driven economy. Projects are now in place to encourage integrated agriculture enterprises, offering hope for development of a more dynamic agriculture in Nigeria. Integrated rice–fish culture has never been common in Nigeria (Akegbejo et al., 2010). There is considerable potential for increased involvement of poor farming households in rice–fish culture in both rain-fed and irrigated rice cultivation, as indicated by successful examples from such widely separated areas as Bangladesh, Madagascar, Australia and Thailand (Ahmed, 2014). Integrated rice–fish farming has existed in China for about 2000 years (Li, 1992); integrated farming is considered to have taken its origin over 2,400 years from China. Infact, China is reported to cultivate almost one million hectares and Indonesia, 94,000ha (Ujoh et al., 2016, Lightfoot et al., 1992).
In rice–fish culture system, fish are usually cultured within rice areas, protected from excess flooding by small dikes. The fish are cultured in rice paddies either concurrently with rice or in rotation. A wide range of fish species has been tested in rice fields, including Oreochromis niloticus, common carp (Cyprinus carpio) and major Indian carps such as catla (Catla catla), rnrigal (Cirrhimis inrigala) and rohu (Labeo rohita) (FAO, 2017). Other fish species that have shown good results and are of high acceptability in Asia and China include Chinese carps like silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella) (FAO,2017).
The potential land area that could be put under rice production in Nigeria is estimated at about 4–6 million ha, but only some 2 million ha (about 40%) are cultivated (Miller, 2006 and Ujoh et al., 2016). In Nigeria, over 1.5 million hectares of swamp areas in Niger Delta as well as in the Niger flood plain between Yauri and Lokoja (Kebbi and Kogi States respectively) as well as the Benue flood plains show good prospects for rice-cum-fish culture. Rice is produced in virtually all the States of the federation. However, seven States — Kaduna, Taraba, Niger, Benue, Borno, Kano and Adamawa — have half of the rice cultivation area in the country (Ujoh et al., 2016). With such potential for rice production and with the present transformation of the agricultural sector against the low oil prices in the world market, the country should be self-sufficient in rice and production. Over 1.5 million ha of swamp areas in the Niger Delta show good prospects for rice–fish culture, and also in Southwest Ondo and Lagos States) as do areas in the Niger floodplain between Yauri in Kebbi State and Lokoja in Kogi State.
Rice–fish farming is not practised as a culture system in Nigeria. Rather, it is primarily the capture method that is practised. Most of the rice–fish culture methods in Nigeria have been on experimental bases. The studies of Yaro (2003) and Okoye (2004) showed that rice-cum-fish culture system gives an increase of 10% in rice yield and increase of 54% in revenue due to inclusion of fish in the culture system. It was also observed in these studies that farmers have always caught wild fish in lowland rice fields, but integrated rice–fish culture has never been common. Nevertheless, there is considerable potential for increased involvement of poor farming households in rice–fish culture in both rain fed and irrigated rice, as indicated by successful examples from such widely separated areas as Bangladesh, Madagascar and Thailand. Rice–fish culture has been practised in 28 countries on six continents (Ricepedia. org/rice, 2016).
The world’s largest rice producers, according to the Unites State Department of Agriculture, are China (145 million mt), India (106 million mt), Indonesia (37 million mt) and Bangladesh (34.7 million mt). In Africa, the leading producers are Egypt (4million mt) and Nigeria (2.772 million mt) Cote D’Ivoire (1.43 million mt) and Sierra Leone (756,000 mt) (WorldRiceProduction. com, 2017). In Africa, rice has been the main staple food displacing other staple foods because of the availability of affordable imports from Asia and rice’s easier preparation, which is especially important in urban areas. On balance, in Africa, production has grown rapidly, but rice consumption has grown even faster, with the balance being met by increasing quantities of imports. Available 2017 statistics for aquaculture fish production reveals the following to be the leading producers in the world: China (76.15 billion kg), Indonesia (20.88 billion kg), India (9.60 billion kg) and Vietnam (6.33 billion kg) (Sawe, 2017).
Nigerian institute for oceanography and marine research, Lagos-Badore experimental farm in 2012 carried out a pilot study on rice cum fish farming; the research was aimed at making efficient use of coastal land for food production. The study focused on the methods used to demonstrate and promote fish culture in rice-field and to investigate the contribution of stocked fingerlings of fish yields from rice fields, so as to increase protein consumption and income for rural people. The major goal of the study was to create awareness and promote fish culture in rice fields. The experiment lasted for six months but low water level during the months of January/February in the ponds and trenches prevented the stocking of the fish (Oreochromis niluticus) (NIOMR, 2012)
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