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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 8 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2010   

CONSTRAINTS TO RUBBER PRODUCTION IN SAPELE LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF DELTA STATE,

NIGERIA

 

AJOKPORISE, D. AND AKPERE, L.P.

AGRICULTURAL EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

COLLEGE OF EDUCATION, WARRI

E-mail:ajodave@yahoo.co.uk

 

Abstract

The study investigated among other things the constraints to rubber production in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria. One hundred and twenty rubber farmers randomly selected from twelve villages in the Local Government Area were used to constitute the sample. Stratified and random sampling was used. The study indicated that 68.3% of the respondents cultivated between 3 – 5 hectares of land to rubber and they supply rubber product to the rubber factories in Sapele. However, the rubber farm size is been threaten by poor/destructive tapping, ageing and conversion of the rubber farms to arable farms. The study revealed that the major constraints to rubber production is conversion of rubber farmland to arable crop farm (93.3%); destruction of rubber trees for firewood (84.2%); poor tapping (81.7%) and aging of existing trees (41.7%).

Keywords: Rubber, Hevea braziliensis, Constraints, Firewood


Introduction

Rubber (Hervea brasiliensis) is a perennial dicotyledonous plant which belong to the family Euphorbiaceae and grown commercially over million of hectares.

According to Kochhar (1986) nearly 52,000 more different products are made directly from rubber. The most important part of the rubber tree is the bark, which contains the Latex-producing tissue (Delobarre and Serier, 2000). The primary and major product of rubber-Latex (the milky juice obtained from the rubber tree) is very useful as it contains about 25-45% rubber by weight and can be processed into secondary products such as crepe rubber, crumb rubber and sheet rubber for onward processing into finished goods. Apart from Latex, the rubber tree produces seeds and wood which are also of economic values to the grower.

Before the oil boom in the 1960’s Nigeria was among the worlds leading rubber producers. Between 1957 and 1960; Nigeria was the biggest producer of natural rubber in Africa and ranked sixth in the world contributing about 3 percent of the world output (Purseglove, 1968). Consequently it contributed immensely to the Nigeria economy within these periods. However there has been a general decline in rubber production in Nigeria over the past two decades both in the area under cultivation and total output.

For instance, between 1970 and 1986 the output of rubber decreased from 65,000 metric tones to 36,000 metric tones, representing a decrease of 56.3 percent (CBN, 1994). Also between 1992-1996 rubber output decreased from 129,000 metric tones in 1992 to 91,000 tonnes in 1996, representing about 29.5 percent decrease (Rubber Statistics Bulletin, 1997). Hence export of rubber declined leading to its reduced contribution to the Nigeria economy. The decline in production is linked to laborious production methods, use of low quality/low yielding planting materials, in frequent maintenance and destructive (poor) tapping methods, poor marketing organization, lack of adequate marketing information, competition from use of synthetic rubber, high cost of inputs, and unstable prices (Olayide and Olatunbosun, 1992). In recent time there has been a rise in the price of rubber which is principally due to fall in supply. The price of a kilogram of rubber sells for N180 (One Hundred and Eighty Naira) at the farmers end while factory prices is as high as N250 (Two Hundred and Fifty Naira).

In the light of the foregoing this study seeks to examine the constraints to rubber production in Sapele Local Government Area, of Delta State.

Specially, the study sought to:

1.         Ascertain the size of land put to rubber production rubber

2.         Ascertain the level of rubber farm land lost to arable crop

3.         Ascertain the level of rubber farm land lost to firewood

4.         Identify the constraint to rubber production in the area

Methodology

The Local Government Area (Sapele) is made up of four major farming clans Amukpe, Elume, Okokproro and Ugborhen. Each of the clans is made up of more than ten communities (villages). The communities has tropical climate with temperature range of 250C to 340C and a rainfall between 2500-300mm per annum which is distributed for about 8 months stretching from March to October.

The occupation in the study area is farming although, it is largely traditional and subsistence in nature. The major crops grown are cassava, maize, okro and yam. Plantation crops such as rubber, plantain, banana and citrus species are also grown. In addition, trading and craftsmanship are the non-agricultural activities prevalent in the area.

Four communities were randomly selected from each of the four clans; this made a total of 12 villages. A list of rubber farmers in each community was obtained through consultations with the informants who are rubber buyers from each community, ten rubber farmers were randomly selected for interview through simple random sampling technique, giving a total of 120 respondents for the study.

The ten (10) respondents represented about 30% of the potential farming families in each village. A structured interview schedule was used to collected data from the respondents. The interview schedule elicited information on general questions relating to rubber production and specific to rubber production and specific questions on constraints to rubber production.

The farm size or land size was estimated form the number of plants owned by a farmer. An estimate of 500 plants is equivalent to one hectare of farmland at a spacing of 4.5m by 4.5m. If a farmer has 4 taper employed that is equivalent to 4 hectares as a taper will tap an average of 500 trees per day.

Result and Discussion

Research Question 1

What are the problems that affect rubber production in Sapele Local Government Area of Delta State?

The data for the research questions above is presented in table 1.  Percent scores of the identified problem (constraint) are shown in the table.


Table 1: Percentage Analysis of the Constraints to Rubber Production

S/N

CONSTRAINTS

FREQUENCY

1.

Conversion of rubber farm land to Arable farm

112 (93.3%)

2.

Destruction of rubbers trees for firewood

101 (84.2%)

3.

Destructive/poor tapping

98 (81.7%)

4.

Age of existing trees

50 (41.7%)

5.

Incidence of fire

24 (20.0%)

6.

Lack of government attention

23 (19.2%)

7.

Lack of improved trees

21 (17.5%)

8.

Lack of planting of new trees

12 (14.2%)

9.

Disease and pest

16 (13.3%)


All respondents indicated their involvement in rubber production. Table 1 shows the percentage analysis of the constraints encountered by respondents. The frequency distribution and corresponding percentages are indicated in the table. 93.3% of the respondents stated that they had the problem of conversion of rubber farms land to Arable crop like cassava and maize, 84.2% had that problem of destruction of rubber trees for firewood, 81.2% had the problem of destructive tapping, aging of existing trees (41.7%). Other problem include lack of planting of new trees (14.2%), lack of improved trees (17.5%), diseases and pest (13.3) and lack of government attention (19.2%). Studies by Agwu (2006) and Olayide and Olatunbosun (1972) indicated some of these constraints. It is worth to note that the proportion of respondents that reported conversion of rubber farm land to arable crop, destruction of rubber tree for firewood and destructive of tapping was quite high. This is evidence in the way firewood of rubber were been sold in the local market and along express roads in the Local Government Area. The firewood are mostly from rubber farms converted to arable farm, and those destroyed for the purpose of firewood.

Research Question 2

What is the size of rubber farmland?

The result is shown in table 2


Table 2: Estimate of land put to rubber production (farm size)

Land Size (ha)

Frequency

Percentage

0 – 1.0

-

-

1.1 – 2.0

2

1.7

2.1 – 3.0

28

23.3

3.1 – 4.0

30

25.0

4.1 – 5.0

50

43.3

5.1 and above

8

6.7

Total

120

100


When the land put to rubber production was estimated (table 2) using the number of trees (500 trees as equivalent to an hectare) the result showed that more than half (68.3%) of the respondents cultivated between 3.1 – 5.0 hectares to rubber. This indicate that majority of the respondents (farmers) were small holder farmers. This agrees with findings of Agwu (2006). It is this proportion of farmers that supply majority of rubbers products to the five rubber factories in Sapele Local Government Area.

Research Question 3

What proportion of rubber farm land lost to arable crop?


Table 3: Estimate of Rubber Farm Land Lost to Arable Crop

Land Size (ha)

Frequency

Percentage

0 – 1.0

44

36.7

1.1 – 2.0

62

51.7

2.1 – 3.0

10

8.3

3.1 – 4.0

4

3.3

4.1 – 5.0

-

-

5.1 and above

-

-

Total

120

100


Table 3 indicates that 88.4 percent of the respondents has lost between 1 – to 2.0 hectares of rubber farm land to Arable crop. In terms of number of trees it is between 500 to 1000 trees destroyed. The respondents reported that they converted their rubber farmland to cassava production because the trees are aged and poor/destructive tapping has resulted in the death of trees.

Research Question 4

What proportion of rubber farmland lost to firewood?


Table 4: Estimate of Rubber Farmland Lost to Firewood

­Land Size (ha)

Frequency

Percentage

0 – 1.0

68

56.7

1.1 – 2.0

50

41.7

2.1 – 3.0

2

1.6

3.1 – 4.0

-

-

4.1 – 5.0

-

-

5.1 and above

-

-

Total

120

100


Table 4 also shows that majority of the respondents (98.4%) have lost between 1 – 2ha of rubber plantation to firewood. The farmers indicated that part of the land lost to firewood was subsequently converted to Arable crop farm. It was difficult for the farmers to replant with rubber seedlings even when they are available because of annual wild fire. Firewood scout enter the rubber plantations without approval and cut down trees for firewood.

If the rubber farmers are to be encouraged to replant their aged farmland or open up new land for rubber in order to increase farm size the issue of annual wild fire and firewood scouts must be addressed. The current high price of rubber may continue for a long time as the small-holder farmers are not increasing their farm size but rather decrease. It was observed that large rubber plantation are few, only one rubber factory of the five factories that own a rubber plantation and also planting new land to rubber.

Conclusions

The study revealed that the major constraints to rubber production is conversion of rubbers farmland to Arable crop farm, destruction of rubber trees for firewood, destructive/poor tapping and age of existing trees. The farmers in the study area are majorly small holder farmers who cultivate between 31-5.0ha of land to rubber. Greater proportion of the farm size is been threaten by competing demand for land by Arable crop such as cassava, firewood scouts and aging of the trees.

Recommendations

1.         Government should carryout an awareness campaign against the destruction of rubber trees for firewood and conversion of rubber farmland to arable crop land.

2.         Government should provide effective extension services and farm inputs such as planting materials as a way of encouraging farmers to plant rubber.

3.         There is the need to provide training to farmers especially on effective tapping of the rubber trees.

4.         Farmer who shows interest in planting of rubber should be given adequate assistant for the period of gestation (before the trees start bearing).

5.         Government should show direct involvement by planting rubber trees as a way of preventing the decline in rubber output.

Reference

Agwu, A.E. (2006). Enhancing Natural Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) Production through Extension Service Delivery in South West Agricultural Zone of Nigeria. Journal of Agriculture, Food, Environment and Extension. Vol. 5, No. 2, Pp. 7-16.

CBN (1994). Central Bank of Nigeria Statistical Bulletin, Vol. 5, No. 1, P.

Delabarre, M.A. and Serier, J.B. (2000). The Tropical Agriculturalist: Rubber. Published in Cooperation with the CTA, the Netherlands. Macmillan Education Ltd.

Kochhar, S.L. (1986). Tropical crops: A Textbook of Economic, Botany: London.

Olayide, S.O. Olatunbosun, D. (1972). Trends and Prospects of Nigeria’s Agricultural Exports (NISER), Ibadan: Ibadan University Press.

Purseglove, J.W. (1968). Tropical Crops: Dicotyledons, Longman: London.

Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria (1990). Advisory Circular: No. 14, Benin City.