Identification Of Skills Needed By Women Of Agriculture In The Production Of Amarantus Cruentus For Economic Security
This study examined the identification of skills needed by women of agriculture in the production of amarantus cruentus for economic security. Two field experiments were conducted during the 2015 rainy season at the teaching and research farm of Bayero University Kano new campus (Latitude 120 58 ‘N and Longitude 80 25’E) and at the National Horticultural Research Institute Bagauda, Kano (110 33’N and 80 23’E), both located in the Sudan savanna ecological zone of Nigeria to evaluate the response of vegetable Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus L.) to Gibberellic acid concentrations. The treatment consists of four levels of Gibberellic acid (GA3) (0, 200, 400, 600ppm) that were laid using out in a Randomized complete block design with four replications, the net plot was 2m X 1.5m making (3m2) with 0.5m between 1m between replicates. Application of GA3 400ppm and 600ppm significantly increased plant height, number of leaves, leaf area, fresh weight, dry weight at both locations in addition application of Gibberellic acid at 400ppm and 600ppm significantly increased the fresh and dry weight of amaranth at Bagauda. Hence these treatments are recommended for amaranth farmers in the study area in order to boost their economic status.
1.1 Background of the study
Vegetable Amaranth (Amaranthus cruentus L.) is a member of the family Amaranthacea. It is also called Alayyahu in Nigeria (Vorster et.al, 2002). Amaranth is usually green in color, but a purple one is also grown in some part of the country. The plant can grow up to 2m tall, seed are black in the wild plant and white in the domesticated farm and are eaten as a cereal grain. In Nigeria, amaranths ( Amaranthus sp.) is grown basically on rotted dung, dilapidated place or on irrigated fields and fallow lands with no deliberate or with just little cultivation performances. Seeds are usually broadcasted on beds or flat land. To avoid overcrowding the plant is thinned at some certain stage of growth and thus removed from the first harvest. They are grounded in to flour, popped like popcorn, cooked in to porridge, and used in to confectionery foods. The leaves can be cooked like spinach, (Gruben and Denton, 2004).
Basically, plant height is a genetically controlled character, but several studies have indicated that plant height can be increased by the application of plant growth regulators. It was observed that there was a substantial improvement in the growth and development due to the application of various agro-chemicals, fertilizers, micronutrients and the effect was more pronounced with the foliar application of GA3 (Ganapathi, 2006).
Vegetable (Amaranthus Cruentus) popularly known as spinach is an herbaceous leafy vegetable grown in Sub-Saharan African countries; the vegetable is unique among all vegetables in terms of short duration of maturity, profitability and it can easily be cultivated on small areas (Oluijide and Oladele, 2007). In Nigeria, for example this vegetable is widely grown for subsistence and it offers a significant opportunity for poor households to generate income through commercial production of the vegetable which engages relatively higher youth labour in various farm operations (Emokoroet al, 2007). The vegetable can therefore support rural, peri-urban and urban populations in terms of subsistence and income generation without requiring huge investments (Department for International Development and Research for Development, 2010). This is important, especially for the resources of poor (youths) farmers with low capital investments.
The vegetable (Amaranthus Cruentus) is one of the most important green leafy vegetable of the tropics, it provides minerals and vitamins (especially vitamin A) which are highly beneficial for the maintenance of good health and prevention of diseases (Onyangoet al, 2008).
Africa has experienced mixed progress in reducing food insecurity and child malnutrition in the past 20 years (Garcia 2012). Approximately, one third of children under 5 years of age in Africa are stunted and more than a quarter are underweight. Micronutrient deficiencies affect mainly women and children and contributes significantly to the global disease burden of children by limiting proper cognitive development, impairing physical development, and increasing susceptibility to infectious diseases (Asare-Marfo et al. 2013). Most countries in Africa are still struggling to address problems of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies (Lopriore and Muehlhoff 2003).
African leafy vegetables are increasingly recognized as possible contributors of both micronutrients and bioactive compounds to the diets of populations in Africa (Smith and Eyzaguirre 2007). The continent is rich of vegetable species including amaranths which are among the most popular leafy vegetables on the continent (Maundu et al. 2009). Amaranths consist of 60–70 species (Xu and Sun 2001) and include at least 17 species with edible leaves and three grain amaranths grown for their seeds (Grubben and Denton 2004). Although several species are often considered weeds, people around the world value amaranths as leafy vegetables, cereals and ornamentals (Trucco and Tranel 2011).
Habweet al (2008) stated that a person requires 200g intake of vegetable daily but Nigerians national average is below than this value. This inadequate intake of fresh vegetable is further worsen during dry season when moisture scarcity limits the area under cultivation and quantity of vegetable that can be produced to meet its demand.
The vegetable can be produced all year round depending on the availability of water. In Nigeria, it is being produced near a low lying area (Fadama) where there is some available sources of water for irrigation. However, water resources are limited and irrigation is labour demanding because in many rural areas, reservoir or river to the field (VanLeeuwen, 2001). The adoption of small scale low cost irrigation technologies by small holder farmers in Africa has great potential and could be one of the solutions for increasing food production, farmers income and improving food security (VanLeeuwen, 2001).
Despite the efforts being made by the government to boost food production and security in the country, the reverse is the case, as the population is rapidly increasing, the demand for vegetables has continued to rise over the years especially by urban consumers in order to bridge the gap between domestic vegetable production and consumption increased production can be a good alternative because vegetables is one of the important green leafy crop which is beneficial for healthy living. In addition, increase in vegetable production is necessary because it has a great potential to play a crucial role in contributing to food and nutritional security, income generation, poverty alleviation and socio-economic growth of Nigerians (Habweet al, 2008).
The efficiency of 400ppm in plants height, numbers of leaves, number of branches and leaf area were significantly higher as compared with other treatments. In a related development Fagge, (2009); Abbas, (2010) and Davis and Namez, (2000) reported that foliar application of growth regulators especially GA3 increases plant height, leaf area index and fresh weight of some leafy vegetables. The objective of this research was to investigate the effectiveness of Gibberellic acid on growth and yield components of vegetable Amaranth.
1.2 Statement of problem
Malnutrition is still a challenge to the world population especially in the developing countries. This has led to rising cases of nutrition related diseases. In Kenya, mortality rate is still high especially in children under the age of five.
The constraints facing vegetable crop production apart from few pest and diseases is how to improve vegetative part, in this respect the need of plant growth regulators is very important for rapid vegetative growth and nutritional improvement. In addition to that not much work has been done on this crop especially in Northern Nigeria. Gibberellic acid (GA3) regulates important function such as elongation of stems and synthesis of proteins. Faten et al., (2008) reported that application of GA3 enhanced plant height, number of shoots per plant, number of leaves per plant as well as fresh and dry weight per plant in potato. The significant increase in plant fresh weight, plant dry weight, with application of GA3 at varying concentration could be attributed to the positive influence of that growth regulator (GA3) on cell division, cell elongation and cell expansion. Gibberellic acid on has also been reported to have increased plant height, leaf area index and total dry matter in common beans (Ngatia et al. 2004).
1.3 Objectives of the study
- Describe the socio-economic characteristics of vegetable farmers.
- Determine the costs and returns of vegetable production.
- Identify the problems affecting vegetable production in the study area.
1.4 Justifications of the study
Many Kenyans today are faced with the challenges of food insecurity, diseases and conditions associated with low levels of essential trace elements. The high level of poverty has resulted in the inability to acquire quality foods with high nutritive value as well as food supplements. The study has gathered and documented the information on the levels of essential trace elements in Amaranthus. The information can be used by relevant authorities on public health to recommend the consumption of grain amaranth as a cheap and affordable source of micronutrients to all Kenyans. The results can be used in the development of amaranth nutraceuticals which can help improve the health status of Kenyans as well as assisting in poverty alleviation. Therefore, promotion and consumption of amaranth may offer a viable solution in an area where animal-source foods may not be affordable (ECHO, 2006).