Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Agricultural Economics, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria

2 Department of Agricultural Economics, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Nigeria

Abstract

Viable sweet potato production is hard to achieve with indiscriminate use of farm inputs, resulting to wastage and environmental damages, as consequences are common problems of arable crop farming in Abia State. Issues arising from farm input use and their corresponding implications for environment called for a study on suitable farming practices and farm-specific technical efficiency for optimal resource use in sweet potato production in Abia State. Data were obtained from 156 sweet potatoe farmers through a multistage sampling technique using a structured questionaire. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as mean, relative frequency distribution, and the stochastic production frontier. Results showed that using inorganic fertilizer (65.378%) under rainfed production system with a frequent bush burning (66.67%) and low liming (5.8%) were very common practices with leaching, fragile soil, erosion, flooding, and soil acidity as consequences. Mixed cropping (63.46%) with improved varieties like TIS 8164 (71.2%) and 0087 (64.1%) were copping measures to some environmental challenges. Maximum Likelihood Estimates (MLE) showed a decreasing return to a scale of 0.236. The implication is that an increase in farm size and fertilizer application can significantly lead to a less than 0.06538 and 0.08142 proportionate increase in output of sweet potato respectively, or reduces it by less than 0.00413, with interest on borrowed capital. The gamma (0.0403) was less than unity and was significant at p < 0.05, implying that about 4.30% discripancies in observed and frontier output was due to technical inefficiencies of sweet potato farmers. The wide disparity in farmers’ technical efficiencies ranged from 0.298% to 99.4%, and a mean of 47.1% suggested a need to bridge the gap. Hence, a reduction in household size, farming experience, and sourcing of planting materials from NRCRI or IITA is believed to increase farmers’ technical inefficiency, which can be reduced with age and formal educational level of sweet Potato farmers in the area. All in all, the results suggest that reducing bush burning but increasing liming as well as including organic soil ammendments and irrigation practicies, when combined with the use of young and educated farmers, can reduce environmental damages and also increase farmers’ technical efficiency when it comes to sweet potato production in the area.  
 

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