Economic Study of Cassava Production in Abia State, Nigeria




The research study examined economics of cassava production in Abia State, Nigeria. Information was gathered from 105 farmers and analyzed to describe the farming systems and the socio-economic characteristics of Abia cassava farmers, estimate the profitability of cassava production, analyze the factors that affect profitability of cassava, estimate technical and economic efficiency of cassava production, identify and estimate the socio-economic characteristics of the farmers that affect their technical and economic efficiency, identify and analyze the factors that influence the rate of technology adoption and the  intensity of use after adoption and identify the constraints to increased cassava production in the study area. Multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select the local government areas, communities, villages and the farmers. The primary data were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics such as means, percentages, frequency distribution tables, stochastic frontier production function (cobb-douglas), inefficiency model, tobit model, normalized profit function and net farm income/budgetary analytical tools. It was found that majorities (85.7%) of the farmers are educated and labour is the most expensive resource used. The result further showed that about 11,900kg (11.9 tons) of cassava tubers and 900kg (0.9 tons) of cassava stems were realized from 1.0 hectare of land with total revenue of N589, 300. The gross margin was N448, 225.50 per hectare, while the net-return was N446, 025.50. The benefit cost ratio was N4.113 which indicates that cassava production in the study area is profitable. The study further revealed that inefficiency was present in the production activities of the farmers in the study area; hence they did not achieve maximum technical and economic efficiency. However the farmers’ level of technical efficiency (79%) was higher than their economic efficiency (61%). The use of tobit model estimate reveals that farm income, age of the respondent farmers and extension visits are all important variables in explaining the adoption behaviour of the farmers. The identified problems include, high labour cost, scarcity of farm inputs, poor extension services, low income, illiteracy and low productivity. The study therefore recommended extension of credit facilities to the farmers, timely supply of inputs at cost effective prices, farmers’ education, more efficient and effective extension services, introduction and use of tractor technology and encouraging farmers to reshuffle their expenditure pattern in order to allocate more income for re-investment in cassava production.



  • Background Information of the Study

Cassava, (Manihot esculentum crantz), belongs to the family of euphorbiaceae. It is believed that the crop originated from Brazil and was introduced to West Africa by the Portuguese traders. It exists in many cultivars which can be distinguished by size, colour, shape of the leaf, branching habit, plant height, colour of the stem, root shape, size and colour, maturity time of the root and level of hydrocyanic content (Anyanwu, 2006). Cassava is Africa’s food insurance crop with stable yield, even with low rainfall, low fertility and low inputs (FAO, 2008). Cassava is becoming an important industrial raw material and a foreign exchange earner. Cassava’s role as food security crop as well as a cash crop is receiving high attention for poverty alleviation by the developing world and partners (FAO, 2008).

Cassava is ranked the 6th most important crop in the world in terms of area planted and production (FAO, 1986). Africa is the highest cassava producer in the world, and more than 100 million people in tropical Africa depend on it as their dietary staple (FAO, 2008). Globally, among the world’s producing regions, West Africa is known to have the greatest share of the world’s production of cassava (FAO, 2008). Interestingly, Nigeria is the largest world producer of cassava with yearly production of fresh tubers estimated at 10-13 million tons on a land area of 1.2-1.4 million hectares (NAQAS, 2002). Nigeria’s lead on cassava production in the world has been achieved through expansion of land areas devoted to cassava cultivation (Ano, 2003). Of Africa’s 72.7 million tons of cassava output in 1990, 26 million tons were produced in Nigeria (Ezedinma, 2003). Cassava is widely grown in Nigeria. For decades, cassava has been cultivated as a subsistence crop in Nigeria. Currently, cassava cultivation has become an income generating activity. This “enhanced” status is as a result of increased demand for cassava and cassava products outside the rural communities (Ikpi et al 1986), as well as the realization of the potentials it has for contributing to the attainment of self-sufficiency in food production (Kwatia, 1980).

Cassava plays a major role in Nigeria’s food security and 80% of the inhabitants in the rural areas eat cassava meal at least once a day (Ezedinma, 2003). The crop is also a good source of raw materials involved in the production of confectioneries, animal feed, alcohol, adhesives, flour starch, etc. The growth of cassava as a major economic and food security crop over the last two decades has generated significant research interest at both the National and International levels. For instance, the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan and the National Root Crops Research Institute, (NRCRI), Umudike have developed the Tropical Manihot Selection (TMS) 30555, 30572, 30211, 50395, 60506 and Umudike (U) 41044 varieties in the early 1970’s and 1980’s. Most recently, new varieties of cassava were developed and they include, TMS 90257, 84537M, 82/00661, 30001, 81/00110, 91934, 4(2)1425, nr 41044, nr 8212, 8082, 8083, 8208, nr 83107, TMS 419, TMS 98/0581 and TMS 98/0510 (Ezulike et-al,2006). These varieties are not only high yielding, but also are resistant to pests and diseases such as Cassava Mosaic Disease, Cassava Bacteria Blight, Cassava Mealy Bug and Cassava Green Spider Mite (Ezedinma, 2003).

Cassava’s combined abilities to produce high yields under poor conditions and store its harvestable portion underground up to nine months make it a classic “food security crop. In recent years, this has proved of critical importance to many people in Africa caught up in civil conflicts and unable to cultivate the normal range of annual crops. Displaced groups of people in Mozambique during that country’s 16 years’ war often survived on abandoned cassava fields (Ezedinma, 2003). Because, it is a vegetative propagated crop, such plantings can also serve as a ready supply of planting materials during rehabilitations following conflict or drought.

Cassava is well-known for being able to grow and produce food even in very poor soils. For that reason, it is often grown at the margins of farms where the better land has been reserved for the production of grain crops. In addition, once established, cassava is relatively drought tolerant and when matured can survive up to six months without rains. Cassava’s productive capacity in low-input conditions comes at a certain cost in terms of carbohydrate quality and protein concentrations. Cassava’s ability to produce food under marginal conditions has made it a popular crop of Africa’s poor farmers who are unable to invest in fertilizer or pesticides to protect the crop against environmental stresses and biotic constraints (Ezedinma, 2006).

Although still a subject of some debate, the center of origin of cassava is generally believed to be the Southern border of the Amazon basin. Cassava was introduced in Africa in the Congo River Delta by the Portuguese in the 15th century and spread rapidly to many agro-ecologies of the continent; however, cassava is most important in farming systems of the humid forest regions where the productivity of grain crops is reduced by sunlight, foliar pests and diseases and grain storage is more difficult. Cassava has very high yield potential, making it a viable alternative to grain crops where population pressures have led to trade-off between good quality and quantity (NAQAS 2002).

Commercial cassava yields as high as 20 metric tons per hectare have been registered under experimental conditions. Nigeria is presently the largest cassava producing country in the world (FAO, 2008).

Presently, cassava production is in the hands of small-holder farmers who rely predominantly on simple tools like the hoe and cutlass powered by human effort. In 2002, the Government of Nigeria launched a presidential initiative on cassava. The aim of the initiative was to develop cassava as the engine of growth and diversify Nigeria’s economic base away from its principal export-crude oil. If investments in the downstream sector of the cassava industry are made more effective, cassava can be used to improve rural and urban income and employment in Nigeria (Ezedinma and Okechukwu, 2007). But the initiative will be threatened if no substantial effort is made to improve the current production systems. The requirements of consistent supply of large volumes of fresh roots by cassava-based industries cannot be supported by the current production systems. The critical constraints, however under such production systems is labour cost which lies between 70 and 90% of total variable cost of production (Ezedinma, 2000 and Okorji , 1985) in small holder farming.

  • Problem Statement

Cassava is one of the major root crops in Abia state and following the presidential initiative on cassava in 2002, there has been an increased awareness and demand for the crop in the state till date (ABSG, 2006). This pre-supposes that increased land area will be put into cultivation. Onyenweaku and Okoye (2005), noted that cassava production in Abia state no longer keep pace with demand, in spite of the high potential for increasing its production by expanding the area under cultivation. Ezebuiro et al (2008) observed that Abia cassava farmers are peasants and are poorly endowed in terms of resources; yet they account for the production of up to 95% or more of food produced for consumption in the state. The inadequate use of improved inputs consequent upon the low resource endowment of the Abia cassava peasant farmers has made Abia agriculture to remain at the rudimentary and traditional level. The implication is increased drudgery and reduction in output. This might not be unconnected with the level of cassava farmer’s efficiencies (technical, economic and allocative). A fundamental requirement for correcting this problem is only through improvement in productivity of cassava farmer’s. In this context, technical and economic efficiency in the production of the crop is of paramount importance.

Available statistics show that despite increases in awareness and demand for cassava in Abia state consequent upon the presidential initiative, the objectives of sustainability has remained a mirage as its production has not kept pace with demand (Onyenweaku and Okoye, 2005). Given that cassava is an important staple food in Abia state, any attempt to increase its production and the farmers’ productivity would be a right step towards the resolution of the food crisis. Considering the recent increasing trend of demand for cassava cuttings (Onyenweaku and Okoye, 2005) it is envisaged that farmers may have adopted improved varieties and other technologies to strengthen their economic base. Furthermore, their adoption could depend on the yields realized by the farmers. Actually, farmers place a high value on maximum food security, psychological and/or cultural satisfaction. It is a known fact that it is primarily because of the poor resource base that the small-scale farmers are slower in adoption than the large-scale farmers.

Again, most studies on adoption of cassava technologies in Abia-state are based on potential adopter’s decision about whether or not to adopt an innovation and where the adoption variable is specified in binary form; 1, if he or she adopts, O, otherwise (Akinola and Young, 1991). The implication is that the chosen methodology provided no information on the intensity of use after adoption. It is therefore imperative to specify a model that permits a discrete and continuous dependent variable which will capture the simultaneous nature of the decision making process of potential adopters using the Tobit model instead of the usual probit and/or Logit models.

Most studies also show that aggregate food production in Nigeria has been growing at about 2.5% per annum in recent years. But the annual rate of population has been as high as 2.9% (Olayemi, 1998). The reality is that Nigeria has not been able to attain self-sufficiency in food production; more especially with regards to cassava production despite increasing land area put into food production annually. With recent presidential initiative on increased cassava production with a view to exporting garri and the realization that cassava could be used in bread production, Abia-state has witnessed an increase in hectares of land devoted to cassava cultivation (Abia brief, 2006).

Global cassava production reached over 160 million tons in 1991 and FAO (2003) forecast that production will rise to nearly 210 million tons by 2005. On average, farmers produce less than 10 tons of cassava per hectare in Nigeria; but high yielding varieties, improved pest and disease control and better processing methods could increase production by 150% (FAO, 2006). Traditionally, cassava has been a crop of the poor and expanding its production and market can bring direct economic benefits to farmers. It has been observed that peasant farmers in Africa usually control fewer productive resources compared with their counterparts in Europe and North America, with attendant low output of cassava (Johnson, 1982).

McNamara (1990), reported that although Sub-Saharan Africa’s food production has grown over the last three decades by about 2% a year, it has not actually kept pace with a population growth rate of about 2.8%. According to him, the current population which is estimated at 540 million is expanding at a rate of about 3.1% per year and that the region’s population could reach 1.6 billion by the year 2020. More still, as the region’s population has grown, the amount of arable land available per person has declined from an average of 0.5ha in 1965 to 0.3ha in 1987, he concluded. Ugboaja (2008), reported also that available land for cassava production in Abia state has consistently declined as a result of increased population growth. The implication is reduction in output. This low output, in spite of increasing trend of demand for cassava and availability of resources, improved varieties and technologies could be related to the profitability of cassava enterprise.

It is essential to understand the socio-economic and demographic factors that play leading role in the production process of cassava in order to achieve maximum outputs in Abia state. Generation of such information is critical in focusing programmes, in developing long term research policies and in understanding the subsistence farming situation. Therefore based on the aforementioned, this study would examine the economics of cassava production in Abia state. This would be with a view to identifying and quantifying social and economic factors affecting production; evaluating how resources could be deployed to increase resource efficiency, productivity, profitability of the enterprise and increased adoption of the innovations available in the multi-cropping system of subsistence producers in the humid rainforest ecology of South-Eastern Nigeria, with particular reference to Abia state.

  • Objectives of the Study

The broad objective of this research is to study the economics of cassava production in Abia state, Nigeria.

The specific objectives are to;

  • describe socio-economic characteristics of the cassava farmers and the farming systems adopted in cassava production in Abia state,
  • estimate the cost implications and returns to cassava enterprise in Abia state,
  • estimate technical and economic efficiencies of cassava farmers’ in Abia state,
  • identify and estimate the determinants of farmers technical and economic efficiencies,
  • identify and analyze the factors that influence the rate of technology adoption and the intensity of use after adoption by the farmers in Abia state and,
  • identify the constraints to increased cassava production Abia state.


  • Research Hypotheses

In line with the research objectives, the following hypotheses were tested.

  • Cassava farmers in Abia state are not technically and economically efficient.
  • Intensity of technology used is not influenced by the farmers’ socio-economic characteristics (age of the farmers, level of formal education, farming experience and household size).
    • Justification of the Study

Nigeria has been classified as a country with severe children malnutrition. This is because many households are unable to provide adequate nutritional food for all family members (World Bank, 1997). Cassava and its by-products when carefully and well prepared are affordable and highly nutritious. In recognition of the economic and nutritional importance of cassava, its cultivation has assumed an important place in root crop cultivation in Abia state. Cassava is a key food-security crop. It is particularly important to low-income farmers. This is because it provides reasonable yields on marginal soils even under drought conditions. The crop is also traditionally viewed as a low-value food crop that suffers from poor storability and inadequate markets leading to surplus production. However, studies have demonstrated market opportunities that would enable cassava to contribute significantly to poor people’s livelihoods. These market opportunities include high quality cassava flour for bakery products, cassava flour-based paper board adhesives, glucose syrups, industrial alcohol, plywood glue extenders and high-quality cassava based food (FAO, 2003).

Cassava is of great importance in the nutrition of Nigerians, as it supplies the much needed carbohydrates. Increased availability of cassava is essential to the improvement in the existing living standard of the ever-increasing population. Cassava is widely consumed as porridge, which is prepared from dried and pounded roots. Cassava is also consumed as a snack food in various parts of the continents. Varieties used as snack food are the sweet types low in cyanic acid, which can be boiled and eaten or even consumed raw. Cassava is also grown for its leaves, which are used in making sauces; however leaves from varieties with high cyanic acid content must be properly processed to remove the toxic compounds. Cassava flour is also sometimes used in making bread for local consumption (FAO, 2003).

The study is justified in many ways. Firstly, the problem of inadequate supply of cassava to the growing population is the concern of most farmers and the Government. Secondly, cassava production has not kept pace with the improved varieties and technologies available in Nigeria. Thirdly, cassava is a very important food crop plant in Nigeria and Nigeria is the largest world producer of cassava with yearly production of fresh tubers estimated at 10-13 million tons (NAQAS, 2002).

The ever increasing importance of cassava as a food crop in Nigeria calls for effort to increase its production. This is more so, when improved varieties and technologies for cassava production are available. Abia state farmers have been constrained from increasing their cassava production, despite increasing demand for the product. It is therefore important that the practices adopted by the farmers are evaluated and the efficiency/productivity of various resources used in the production, as well as the constraints to increased cassava production be examined.

The government will benefit immensely from this study in terms of provision of adequate policies that will enhance efficient utilization of available resources thereby achieving increased productivity and growth. More so, the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike and Abia state Agricultural Development Project have distributed millions of high yielding, disease and pest resistant cassava cuttings to farmers, youth organizations, women organizations and Local Government Areas in Abia state and beyond. This research will assist the individual farmers, government and international organizations interested in cassava farming to be more focused and research oriented by ensuring that the right varieties are used and appropriate techniques adopted.

Efficiency study with respect to production enables one to test the presence of and measure the level of efficiency in production, thus making theory to come close to real life situation (Ajibefun and Aderinola, 2003). Empirical measures of efficiency are necessary in order to determine the magnitude of the gains that could be obtained by improving performance in agricultural production with a given technology. To this end, a study of farm level efficiency would be a useful guide to policy makers in ascertaining pro-poor agricultural initiatives which will help farms to operate efficiently and therefore able to prosper and generate higher income. The study will be of great importance in suggesting ways of improving the efficiency of cassava farmers in the state.

Ample information on optimizing the resources available to cassava farmers will be provided by this study thus boosting cassava production in the study area. This research will also serve as a baseline on which other research work on efficiency would be compared using the same methodology. It is hoped that such a study will provide clearer insight into the dynamics of cassava production and would therefore be useful in assisting agricultural policy makers and national development planners in their formulation of national policies especially as they affect cassava production in Nigeria. The findings will also be a useful reference point to research scholars interested in this and related topics.

  • Limitations of the Study

The study is limited only to one production period, thereby ignoring year to year/ seasonal variations in output caused by weather. A study of this nature might have required at least two production periods to be able to make more accurate policy recommendations. More so, the returns from the harvest were calculated based on the prevailing market price at harvest. There are usually fluctuations in the prices of cassava shortly after harvest.

Most of the information provided by the respondents was by memory recalls. These respondents lack the ability to keep farm records and accounts, although effort was made to obtain correct information by careful probing and also paying bi–weekly visits to their respective farms. There may be some errors due to aggregation, under-estimation or over-estimation by these farmers.

Also, this study is limited only to Abia State due to financial problem and time constraints. A study of this nature would require extensive coverage of the entire states of the federation in eastern part of the country where cassava is grown.

However, these limitations notwithstanding, the reliability of the findings is not in any way impaired by the above factors and the result could be taken to represent the situation in Abia State.

  • Plan of the Report

The study is presented in five chapters. The first chapter, the introduction presents the background information, problem statement, objectives of the study, hypothesis that were tested, justification of the study, limitations of the study as well as the plan of the report.

The second chapter reviews the existing literature which were described under morphological description of cassava, cassava production in the world, advances in root and tuber crop production technology, the potential economic importance of cassava, farming systems adopted in cassava production, farming conditions of the small–holder farmers, efficiency of resource use by cassava farmers, economics of cassava production and marketing, conceptual and empirical framework, and finally theoretical and analytical framework.

The third chapter deals with the methodology adopted for the research work. It shows how the study areas and respondents were selected as well as how data were collected and analyzed.

The fourth chapter presents the statistical/economic analysis result of the data and discussion of the findings, while the summary, conclusion and recommendations on policy issues arising from the findings and suggestions for further research are presented in chapter five. The questionnaire used in data collection and computer print-out result of the technical and economic efficiency estimates, together with the tobit estimation are presented in appendix.


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