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The stdy aim at comparative analysis of yam and cassava enterprises in Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state. The study employed survey research design.  Data for this study were collected from a sample of one hundred and sixteen small-scale yam and cassava farmers randomly selected. The objectives of the study were to compare and rank the cost elements of yam and cassava production in the study area; determine the returns to yam and cassava production; and evaluate the profitability of yam and cassava production in the study area. Socio-economic factors include age, educational background, marital status, sex, sources of labour, awareness of extension services, method of weed control, and method of farm land acquisition were identified. Data collected for the study were analyzed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The coefficient of determination (R2) is 0.616, suggesting that the used model has a high goodness of fit. Furthermore, the result of the statistical analysis shows that investing in cassava production enterprise is profitable.




          Yam (Dioscorea spp) is among the oldest crops cultivated by man and is ranked second after Cassava in the study of carbohydrates in West frica (Agwu and Alu, 2005; Emmanuel, 2011). Yams (Dioscorea species) are annual root tuberbearing plants with more than 600 species out of which six are socially and economically important in terms of food, cash and medicine (IITA, 2009). Yams constitute an important food source in the tropical countries of Africa, Asia, and South merica (Emmanuel, 2011). Nigeria is the largest producer of the crop, producing about 38.92 million metric tons annually (FAO, 2008; Emmanuel, 2011). In perspective, the world’s econd and third largest producers of yams, Cote d’ Ivoire and Ghana, only produced 6.9 and 4.8 metric tons of yams if: 2008, respectively. According to the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (lITA), Nigeria accounted for about 70% of the world production amounting to 17 million metric tons from land area of 2,837,000 hectares under am cultivation (FAO, 2008) with about 2004 hectares of these in Taraba State (NBS, 2007). Some of the yam species are water yam (Dioscorea alata), white yam (Dioscorea rotundata), yellow yam (Dioscorea cayanensis), Chinese yam (Dioscorea esculant) and three-leaf yams (Ike and Inoni, 2006; Olubukola and Bolarin, 2006; Zaknayiba and Tanko, 2013). They are grown in tropical regions and mostly produced in the savannah region of West Africa, where rainfalls are divided into wet and dry seasons (FAO, 1997). This crop is also grown in Latin American and Caribbean countries like Colombia, Brazil, Haiti, Cuba and Jamaica (FAO, 2013). Nigeria is the largest producer of yams in the world, followed by Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, and Cameroon (FAO, 2013). Yams are mostly marketed as fresh tubers and prepared for consumption. Transportation and marketing are carried out both by farmers and traders (Ike and Inoni, 2006). Yams are the most harvested crops in Nigeria, following cassava, maize, guinea corn, and beans/cowpeas. More so, cassava, yams are the most commonly harvested tuber crops in the country (National Bureau of Statistics, 2012). Yams production and enterprising do not only serve as the main source of earnings and food consumption, but also as a major employer of labour in Nigeria and Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state. Despite the importance of yams to people, the attention to its production and distribution is still questionable (Verter and Bečvařova, 2014). Some researchers have empirically investigated factors that determine the level of yam production in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world. For instance, Bamire and Amujoyegbe (2005) find a positive relationship between net returns (profitability) in yams output and land improvement techniques in Nigeria. In the same direction, studies by Zaknayiba and Tanko (2013) reveal that lack of access to inputs, finance, poor producer prices, inadequate of storage facilities, incidences of pests and diseases have negatively affected yam production. Similarly, Ike and Inoni (2006); Maikasuwa and Ala (2013) examine some determinants of yam production in particular regions in Nigeria. They fi nd that the factors of production such as labour, finance and material inputs like fertilizer have influenced yam production in the region. In the same direction, Etim, Thompson and Onyenweaku (2013) investigate the relationship between farm level and output-oriented technical efficiency indices. Their results suggest that farmers’ education, family labour, extension contact and experience of farmers have a positive eff ect on the farm level technical efficiency and yam output. Published empirical works within the context yam production in Nigeria were mainly field research.

          In other hand, Cassava (Manihot esculenta crantz) is a perennial crop. It is grown throughout the tropical lowland. It is regarded as a benchmark for food security in the sub-Saharan Africa. It is ranked second to maize in terms of calorie intake (FAOSTAT, 2009). Cassava was introduced to West Africa from Central America and north-eastern Brazil by slave merchants about 16th centuries ago. In Africa, Nigeria in particular, cassava is one of the most important staple foods (Polson and Spencer, 1990; Okpukpara, 2006). Cassava is a very important crop to Nigeria, its comparative production advantage over other staples serves to encourage its cultivation even by the resource poor farmers (Fakayode et al., 2008). Cassava production is ranked the first, followed by yam production at 27 million tonnes in 2002, sorghum at 7 million tones, millet at 6 million tones and rice at 5 million tonnes (FAO 2004). The crop’s production require less labour per unit output than other major staples and crop can also thrive on relatively poor soils. International institute for tropical agriculture (2002) noted that cassava is widely grown in Africa by large numbers of small scale holders across several ecological zones because it is robust crop that can be grown under stress condition. It is also a good staple whose cultivation if encouraged can provide the nationally required food security minimum of 2400 calories per person per day (FAO 2000). Cassava grows in different types of soils including marginal soil that cannot support the growth of most crops (Asadu, 2004). This good attribute of cassava enables it to have a comparative advantage over other tropical crops such as yam. It can be processed into many forms including ‘’garri’’, cassava chips, flour, bread, starch and beer, among others. In fact, Kormawa and Akoroda (2003) asserted that cassava can be processed into many other forms useful as raw materials in industries like in livestock feed mill, confectioneries, textile and brewery. The forms include cassava chips, pellets, flour, adhesive, alcohol, and starch. Cassava is the only crop whose production level has tripled over the past 50 years while its development has been further advanced in the continent by the activities of the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA, 2009).

          However, Nigeria is the largest producers of cassava in the world; its production is currently put at about 34 million metric tonnes per year (FAO, 2004). Total harvested area of the crop in 2001 was 3.125million per hectares with an average yield of 10.83 tonnes per hectares. Nigeria cassava production is about third more than production in Brazil and almost double the respective volume of production in Indonesia and Thailand. Cassava production in other African countries who are also major producers namely Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Madagascar, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda appears small in comparism to Nigeria substantial output (Chukwuji, 2008). At national level Benue and Kogi States in the north central zones of Nigeria are the highest producers of cassava while Cross rivers, Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta states dominates cassava production in the south-south (FOS, 1995, IITA, 2004). Cassava is mainly produced by small scale farmers in rural communities and is primarily produced for food especially in form of garri, fufu with little or no use in agribusiness sector as industrial raw material (Iheke, 2008), however the crop can be processed into several other product like chips, flour, pellets, adhesives, alcohol, starch etc which are raw materials in livestock, feed, alcohol/ethanol, textiles, confectionery, wood, food and soft drink industries (Iheke, 2008). Cassava transformation has arguably proven to be the most poverty fighter till date (Nweke 2004). In Nigeria cassava is produced either as sole crop or in association with other crops in inter cropping farming systems. The predominance of this system has been occasioned by Nigeria’s climate which is basically tropical and favorable for cassava production. It therefore necessary to know the most reliable number and types of enterprise combinations in order to know the most efficient combinations. Intercropping cassava with other arable crops serves as an insurance against crop failure, which may occur due to infestation of pest and disease or natural hazards, it also make available stable and steady income for the farmer. It also provide balanced diet for

farming households (Unmma et al., 1989, Polson and Spencer, 1992, Okigbo 1995, Alabi and Esobhawan, 2006).

          In southern ecological zones of Nigeria particularly in the Akwa-Ibom state is grown with crops like maize, melon, vegetable, yam, etc. Traditionally an average of three to five is combined (Chukwuji 2008) and best combinations to give the farmer desired result is a decision they often take by trial and error method, therefore the outcome of this study is to provide answers to which enterprise combinations would be the most profitable venture. Hence, this research work aim at comparative analysis of yam and cassava enterprises in itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state.


          Yam and Cassava distribution in Nigeria is hampered by various problems which make the farmers often derive minimal returns from their production. Some of the problems faced by the farmers especially in Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state include transportation difficulties, inadequate storage facilities, low prices of yams, lack of credit facilities and low turnover or profitability rate. All these are often compounded by the problem of lack of access to distant larger markets in the big cities. Contributing to the poor market access is also the fact that majority of the farmers are women with multiple competing domestic roles, low educational levels and lack of market information. Today, the problem of ethnicity and the attach of Herdsmen in Nigeria also constitute barriers to market access to some Northern parts of Nigeria (Ugwuanyi & Odigbo, 2012; Eme & Ibietan, 2012; Amuchie, 2012). However, concerned agricultural experts argue that this problem of market access is sometimes linked to the farmers’ inability to meet market standard, low volumes of produce, wide dispersion of producers, presence of middlemen and perceived low prices in the formal market (Freeman and Silim, 2001; IFAD, 2003; Jayne et al., 2002; Killick et al., 2010). Added to all these, the problem of poor storage facilities by farmers often make yams to rot and lose its market values, and this again affects its availability, distribution and revenue to farmers and traders (Nahanga & Becvarova, 2014).

          In other hand, several factors have been identified as the causes of food shortage problem in Nigeria such as yam and Cassava. Some of these are natural disaster such as drought or flood, high population growth rate and inefficiency in the use of farm resources (Nweke et al, 1994). The farmers’ objectives, especially in food production haveto be attained within the limit of available resources. Little effort has been made to the processes of labour allocation in traditional agriculture, indicating that the labour surplus hypothesis could be regarded as over-simplification of reality (Okafor, 1979). It is doubtless that labour, one of the most important resources is not sufficiently available for the farmers to engage in the size and scale of production, as they would wish. The increasing response of rural labour force to gainfully employment opportunities outside agriculture and increasing scarcity of farmlands owing to lam tenure system practiced in Nigeria do not give a clear relationship between household labour and the determinant variables. Many past studies have not researched into the comparative economies of labour use on yam-based and cassava-based cropping systems. Rather they tended to concentrate on separate analysis of labour use in either yam-based or cassava-based cropping systems. So a research into the comparative economies of labour use on yam and cassava-based cropping systems is important in understanding the labour allocation and use pattern in traditional farming systems. The increasing rural-urban migration and the consequent decrease in rural labour supply raised some empirical questions regarding how farmers are optimizing the use of increasing scarce farm labour. The knowledge of these problems and situation is one of the challenges of the study. Since macro-studies indicate only potentialities and not actualities, it is questioned whether labour productivity in agriculture can be genuinely understood without detailed study at the local or farm level. Farm-level survey will, therefore help to examine how smallholder farmers utilize labour resource at their disposal to achieve production and productivity targets which they have set for themselves. To the best of our knowledge, none of these studies used annual time series data to determine the factors that are influencing yam production in the country. The aim of this paper is to analyze

some determinants of yam production in a specified period. Special attention is given to the dynamics of production and potential constraints that hinder higher efficiency and sustainability of yam and production and distribution in Nigeria and Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state.


1. To examine enterprise combination costs and returns in cassava-based food crop farming  systems in Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom  state.

2. To assess the economic analysis of cassava production in Itu local government area.

3. To comparative analysis the growth rate and doubling time of yam and cassava production in Itu local government area.

4. To compare the marketing, distribution and economic efficiency of yam and cassava in Itu local government area.

5. To examine the distribution challenges for yam and cassava produce Itu local government area.


1. However, can enterprise combine the costs and returns in cassava-based food crop farming  systems in Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom  state?

2. Can one carry out the economic analysis of cassava production in Itu local government area?

3. Can the growth rate and doubling time of yam and cassava production in Itu local government area be comparative analyzed?

4. Can there be differences in the level of marketing, distribution and economic efficiency of yam and cassava in Itu local government area?

5. What are the distribution challenges for yam and cassava produce Itu local government area?


H0: The growth rate and doubling time of yam and cassava production in Itu local government area cannot be comparative analyzed.

H1: The growth rate and doubling time of yam and cassava production in Itu local government area can be comparative analyzed.

H0: There is no significant difference between the level of marketing, distribution and economic efficiency of yam and cassava in Itu local government area.

H1: There is significant difference between the level of marketing, distribution and economic efficiency of yam and cassava in Itu local government area.


The unsatisfactory performance of the food sub-sector as demonstrated by its failure to meet the demand for food and raw materials for industries has been of much concern to policy makers and research workers (Mijindadi, 1989; Idachaba, 1985). Several food production programmes have failed to achieve the desired objective of self-food sufficiency. This failure could easily be attributed to government being ignorant of factors, which prevail at the farm level. The success of any food production policy therefore, must be based on understanding the factors that hinder productivity. There is need to step up domestic food production to avoid soaring of food prices. This calls for the need to tackle the growing problem of underemployment and unemployment of labour in the rural areas; the growing and worsening inequitable distribution of income arising from low productivity of input, and low total farm product by individual farm families (Olayide and Atobatele, 1980). The problem of agricultural labour could be tackled by understanding the effect of labour determinant variables at the farm level, which is the focus of the study. This study is also justified by the realization that yam and cassava are tropical crops, the early emphasis on cereals to bridge the food production gap has failed and the increasing low labour productivity that is rapidly resulting to declining output of farm products. The study is therefore needed to identify those factors that affect labour productivity in yam and cassava production. This will enable more appropriate policies that will be beneficial to planners and future policy makers to be devised.


This study focused on the comparative analysis of yam and cassava enterprises in Itu local government area of Akwa-Ibom state.


This study faced some challenges emerging from the choice of the design and scope of the study. Some of the potential respondents were inaccessible due to the vast area of coverage and poor terrain of Dunukofia local government area. High expectation from the respondents arose in the process of data collection. Some respondents saw researcher as the mediator between producers cooperatives and the Ministry of Agriculture. Some of the respondents also saw the researcher as a stranger and an intruder with hidden agenda.

Time and financial constraints:  This also posed a challenge to the study which led to

narrow variables of study against what the respondents may feel to have been considered in the study. These challenges were mitigated by use of introduction letter from Ministry of Agriculture. Briefing of the leaders at first served to strengthen the rapport with the respondents. Objectives and the need for the study was continuously made explicit to the respondents.


Yam: The Nigeria’s International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA, 2009) observed that yams (dioscorea species) are annual root tuber-bearing crops with more than 600 species out of which six are socially and economically important in terms of food, cash and medicine. Some of the species include: water yam (dioscorea alata), white yam (dioscorea rotundata) and yellow yam (dioscorea cayanensis) (FAO, 1998; Zaknayiba and Tanko, 2013).

Cassava:  This is a woody shrub native to South America of the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae. Although a perennial plant, cassava is extensively cultivated as an annual crop in tropical and subtropical regions for its edible starchy tuberous root, a major source of carbohydrates.


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