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THE PERFORMANCE OF POULTRY FARMERS OF THE AKWA IBOM STATE INTEGRATED FARMERS’ SCHEME (IFS)
1.1 Background of the Study
One of the major developmental challenges facing most developing countries including Nigeria is their inability to adequately feed their ever increasing population with the right proportion of calories and protein. Ojo (2003) asserted that the livestock industry falls short of its aim of self-sufficiency in animal protein consumption in the country that is put at 5gm/caput per day which is far below F.A.O. recommended level of 35gm/caput per day. Nigeria currently depends almost totally on the production of conventional farm animals (cattle, goat, sheep, pigs and chicken) for the supply of dietary animal protein, but the rate and level of performance of the livestock industry has however been unsatisfactory due to many constraints resulting in poor growth rate. Such constraints include inconsistency of official macro-economic polices on livestock production, policies change with government, high production cost resulting from inflation, high pest and disease problems, low returns on investment, ineffective credit policy, unfavourable land tenure system which often leads to serious conflicts between the crop farmers and livestock producers and ineffective extension system (Fabiyi, 1996). According to the Nigerian livestock perspective plan for 1991-2005 the daily per capita animal protein intake in Nigeria is only about 16.36gms which is just over 43% of the recommended minimum (Otchere, 1995). This shows that the industry is still at its rudimentary stage for the past years. Olayide (1976) posits that increase in livestock production in Nigeria derives mainly from average expansion rather than high intensification and productivity of resources. This implies that the present production and supply is inadequate (Olaofe, 2004). The three most popular sources of animal protein in Nigeria are frozen fish, beef and poultry egg and meat. Few farmers produce fish and cattle than poultry in Nigeria because the cost per unit of poultry is low relative to other types of livestock. It can be established with minimum capital and as a side project (Sani, Tahir and Kushwaha 2000). The poultry industry is one of the most popular livestock enterprises in the world today. Law and Payne (1996) stated that the world’s production of poultry meat represented 23.6% of all the meat in 1992. North American had the highest production at 45.2kg per head. In the USA, chicken consumption alone rose above that of pork in 1986 and beef in 1988. Poultry business was first introduced into Nigeria in the late fifties (50s) with the importation of selected breeds of exotic poultry namely Rhode Island Red, White Leghorn.
Poultry is by far the largest livestock group and is estimated to be about 14,000 million consisting mainly of chickens, ducks and turkey (FOS, 1999). It is therefore, a very important source of livelihood for most rural communities. In Bangladesh, poultry is considered as a candidate activity for income generation among the landless, particularly destitute women who owned a few chicken. (Salegue, 2000). The importance of poultry cannot be overemphasized. Poultry provides income, employment and manure for crops. According to Gueye (2002), poultry supplies the fast growing population with high quality protein, contributes significantly to food security, poverty alleviation and ecologically sound management of natural resources. Moreover, poultry production has significant effect on national economy, since it has become popular industry for the small holders that have great contribution to the economy (Adebayo and Adeola 2005).
Poultry are kept mainly for meat, egg and other poultry products like feathers and droppings. Farmers have the choice of producing broilers, layers and day old chicks for meat, eggs and restocking of farms. These are three (3) major types of poultry management systems common in Nigeria; there are the extensive, semi-intensive and intensive systems. In the extensive system birds are allowed to roam freely and fend for themselves around the homestead, the semi-intensive is characterized by partial confinement of the birds without proper care while in the intensive system, birds are produced in complete confinement with proper care. The three methods are used depending on the choice of the producer and the environments to which poultry birds are exposed, that is the housing system, the feeds they consume, climatic factors and management system, all these affect the performance of the birds. The ban on the importation of processed chicken in Nigeria some years ago without adequate arrangement for alternative source of supply help increased the price of processed chicken over 75% and has since been the driving force behind the success in the industry. Despite all these, about ten (10) percent of the Nigerian population are engaged in poultry production mostly on subsistence and small or medium sized farms (Okonkwo and Akubuo, 2001). This means that the capacity of the poultry producers to produce to meet the demands of the population is low. Eekeren, Mass, Saatkamp and Verschuur (1995) and Apantaku, Omotayo and Oyesola (1998) asserted that the level of poultry productivity is not yet commensurate with the level of poultry technologies being generated by Nigerian poultry production researchers. The inability of the poultry industry to produce enough animal protein to feed it’s population in Nigeria has been attributed to a number of problems. Identified problems include low egg production, diseases and pest, low and poor performing breeds, poor weight gain and feed conversion, feeding and management problems and lack of capital. (Apantaku, Omotayo and Oyesola. 1998, Eekeren, Mass, Saatkamp and Verschuur 1995). Also, the business of rearing poultry is cost sensitive, feeds cost for instance accounts for between 65% and 70% of the total cost of raising poultry (Bamiro, Shittu and Kola-Olutokun 2001). Aihonsu (1999) also stated that many of the existing poultry farms are folding up and prospective investors are becoming increasingly reluctant to invest due to high cost of feeds among others, this reduces the net return from the business significantly. The major problem of the poultry production in Nigeria is that of low productivity and inefficiency in resource allocation and utilization (Onyenweaku and Effiong, 2006).
In realization of the importance of animal protein, the various governments in Nigeria have been pursuing programmes at national, state and community levels to boost the mass production of livestock products, to ensure the attainment of FAO recommendation of 35gms per caput of animal protein per day. Some of these programmes include the farm settlement scheme, Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Better life programme, Micro-Credit Scheme for livestock production. The United Nation Developing Programme (UNDP) of late is sponsoring the establishment of livestock parent (foundation stock) at community level in Nigeria with the following objectives:
1. To train farmers on improved livestock breeds for the gradual upgrading of local breeds.
2. To train farmers on improved and modern rearing and production methods of livestock.
3. To increase the production of livestock products and consequently farmers incomes. One of such, programme in Akwa Ibom State is the Integrated Farmers’ Scheme (IFS).
Akwa Ibom State Integrated Farmers Scheme (IFS) was established under the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources by a Bill in 1998 and subsequently signed into law in September 2003. The scheme is a strategic attempt by Government of Akwa Ibom State to reduce dependence on Government for employment, create and sustain new jobs, reduce frustration among young people and reduce poverty/hunger. The basis is that the state is blessed with enormous arable land. The government therefore ventured into agriculture to boost the internal revenue of the state aside oil revenue by providing funds in the form of loans to participants in the scheme to become self-employed in any area of agricultural enterprise of their choice, thereby reducing unemployment. The IFS has the following objectives.