PR – Efficiency Of Rice Farmers In Nigeria: Potentials For Food Security And Poverty Alleviation.
Self-sufficiency in rice production has eluded Nigeria for a long time despite over 36 years of efforts by the Government of Nigeria towards its realization. Chains of economic activities in the Nigerian rice industry like harvesting, parboiling, drying, milling/threshing etc are largely executed by women and children. Government of Nigeria has therefore not relented in her effort to develop the rice enterprise as this will put money and food into the hands of the very vulnerable segment of the Nigerian society. This study examines the efficiency of rice farmers in Nigeria, identifying the inefficiency variables in an effort to eliminate wastes and thus set the crop sub-sector on the path of growth and development. The trend analysis identified a huge rice supply deficit, huge rice import bills and very low rice productivity in Nigeria. Thus while Nigeria and other developing economies grapple with the problem of food/rice production the developed economies face other issues like quality and safety of food. In contrast, trend analysis results for developed agricultural economy indicates high productivity trend. Nigeria’s rice productivity problems occurred despite over 4.9 million hectares of available land suitable for rice production in Nigeria. Primary data were then collected form randomly sampled 300 rice farmers in Kogi State Nigeria using a structured questionnaire. The data were analyzed using the Stochastic Frontier production function. Further findings of the study indicated that the elasticity of mean value of rice output with respect to farm size (0.74), labour use (0.14), fertilizer (0.24), were of increasing function. The returns to scale value of 1.82 for significant elasticities was realized indicating a sub-optimal rice production process. The firm-specific indices of technical efficiency vary widely between 0.7 x 10-8 and 0.91 with a mean of 0.54. Technical efficiency in rice production in Nigeria could be increased by 46% through better management and use of available resources. The study indicated that this could be achieved through farmer specific factors including age, farming experience, household size, education and improved rice variety. Key recommendations of the study include access to improved rice variety, access to improved rice processing technology and access to markets and extension services.
Keywords: rice farmers, efficiency, food security, poverty.