The study was undertaken to determine the analysis of storage structure of selected cereal crops by small holder farmers in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State. A simple random sampling procedure were employed to select 100 selected cereal crops small scale farmers for the study. Questionnaire and oral interview were used to collect data for the study. The data collected were analysed using descriptive statistics and a Pearson product moment correlation coefficient was used to test the hypothesis at 0.05 level of significance. The result of the study revealed that most small scale farmers make use of hut/house storage structure in the study area. The study showed that crib storage structure has the highest mean cost (
N16273.87) followed by hut/house ( N13,667.08), granary ( N13,189.58), pit ( N12,960.57) and barn ( N12,889.58). Among the storage structures, granary storage structure was more efficient (0.86) than the others in the study area which include crib (0.78), barn (0.76), hut/house (0.68) and pit (0.66) respectively. The constraints faced in the storage of agricultural products were problems of finance, transportation, insect pest, rodents, theft and fire outbreak. Majority fifty seven percent (57%) of the respondents are faced with the problem of rodents in the study area followed by fifty five percent (55%) of insects pest, fifty percent (50%) for both finance and transport, and twenty six percent (26%) theft. The study recommended that Government should sanitize on farmers on the effect of using chemicals as a storage method as well as providing modern storage facilities to avoid food wastage. Government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) should collaborate with farmers and teach the farmers on how to improve their storage techniques.
1.1 Background of the Study
All agricultural produce, either of plant or animal origin starts deteriorating almost as soon as they are harvested and its lead to losses. This deteriorating may start within a few minutes of harvest resulting in partial or total loss within days; it may also take place very slowly making the crop to retain some essential quality for months (Setamou et al., 1998). Agboola (1999, 2001) pointed out that urgent need to match all efforts of increasing crop production with equal efforts to save the crop that is produced from deteriorating and waste. Maize, an important food for man and an ingredient for poultry and livestock feed is often with high moisture content during harvest and it is liable to microcrobial deteriorating even during storage (Asiedu et al., 2002). This sort of loss is unfortunate because it both lowers the income and standard of living of the farmers and also leads to waste of a large fraction of what is supposed to be a contribution to the nation’s food supply (Asiedu et al., 2002).
Spoilage and total wastage of grains can be minimised through the use of storage technologies (Strahan and Page, 2003). Storage is a way or a process by which agricultural produce or products are kept for future use (Thamaga-Chija et al., 2004). Cereal crops (soya bean, cow pea and maize) needs to be stored from harvest to the next in order to maintain its constant supply all year round and to preserve its quality until required for use. Despite the desire to store cereal crops in order to cover food requirement and future cash needs, some farmers, often sell large proportion of their produce at harvest when price are low (Whitehead, 1998). This is frequently the case with poor producers, who must satisfy cash needs immediately after harvest, only to buy grains again in season for family consumption. Studies have shown that most Nigerian farmers store their cereal crops in various indigenous storage structures for the purpose of self sustenance and household food security. (Alika, 1995); Adekunle and Nabinta, 2000; Meikle et al., 2004). Storage structures (either traditional or modern) have been described as physical environment, medium or containers within which agricultural produce can be preserved against theft, pest and disease for a desirable period of time (Agboola, 1999). Other functions of storage are crops/seeds preservation, quality improvement, quantity equalization and market place stabilization of agricultural produce. The various forms of storage techniques available for cereal crops range from open field storage, polythene, jute bags, platform/tree storage to built structures.
Successful farm storage enables farmers to sell maize when price are most attractive (off season), but with the existing indigenous storage techniques, the market is subject to considerable short term and inter-seasonal price fluctuations, which affects the interest of both producers and consumers. The traditional storage techniques are very local and crude; some have been found to be functional, needing just little improvements while others are outdated and hazardous (Thamaga-Chitja et al., 2004). A major problem in agricultural development in the nation has been lack of modern and appropriate storage technologies for grains. Most new improved technological innovation packages are improperly set up and also very expensive for small holder farmers in Nigeria (Agboola, 2001).
In the light of these, there exists a problem of storage and cereal crops wastage in Nigeria. This study would therefore provide answers to the following questions: what type of storage technologies exist in the study area? How effective and profitable are these storage technologies. What are the main determinants of different storage technologies in the study area? What are the constraints faces with the present storage technologies? Answers to these questions would help in the quest to make recommendation that will help in solving the problems of cereal crop storage technologies in Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Storage is an important aspect of food security in developing countries. This especially important since most cereals are produced on seasonal basis, and in many places there is only one harvest year, which itself may be subject to failure (Proctor 1994). Seasonal production leads to fluctuating supply at the international, regional, national or at household levels. The fluctuating supply is in sharp contrast to a stable demand throughout the year and region. Storage helps to even out fluctuations in market supply, both from one season to the next and from one year to the next, by taking surplus produce off the market during on-seasons, and releasing it back onto the market in lean seasons (Proctor, 1994).
1.3 Research Questions
There exist a problem of storage and wastage in Nigeria. This study would therefore provide answers to the following questions:
- What are the socio-economic characteristics
- What types of storage structures that exist in the study area?
- What is the cost of storage structures in the study area?
- What is the relative functional efficiency of the various storage structures?
- What are the problems encountered in the storage structures for agricultural product?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The study is carried out to analyze the economic importance of storage structure of some selected cereal crops, the specific objectives are to:
- Describe the socio-economic characteristics of respondent in the study area.
- Identify the types of storage structures used by small holder farmers.
- Determine the cost of storage structures used by small holder farmers
- Determine the relative functional efficiency of the various storage structure used by small holder farmers.
- Identify the problems in the storage of agricultural products in the study area.
In order for the research to be complete we need to test the following hypothesis:
Ho1: Socio-economic characteristics have no relation with storage structure in the study area.
Ho2: Functional efficiency has no significant effect on storage structure in the study area.
1.6 Significance of the study
This study may help small holder farmers to understand and identify the best storage method for their agricultural produce.
It may also provide data and information to policy makers on the magnitude of lost experienced by farmers and its impact to the economy if not properly stored.
The role of agricultural extension workers will be more effective when the y utilise these information in educating farmers on the best alternative in terms of storage.
iv. To inform the policy making process, there is need for studies that provide information on the cost and benefits of different cereal storage structures. Yet, such information in Makurdi are not readily available to small holder farmers. This study attempts to provide information that would enable holder farmers to choose to choose the appropriate storage structure.
1.7 Scope of the Study
This study makes use of cross-sectional data collected over a period of one year and it focuses on the economic analysis of storage techniques of selected cereal crops by small holder farmers in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State hence the study is designed to cover Makurdi metropolis.
1.8 Limitations of the Study
In the course of this study a lot of challenges are encountered some of which are farmer’s inability to provide accurate information which affected the study, some farmers could not provide information on the size of their farm lands or the yield of their farm produce, this was due to inadequate record keeping. However, given the natural socio-economic settings in which the study was conducted, the time and resources available for the study, groups of farmers in the same area were surveyed at the same time. Other limitation that affected the result is the misunderstanding of the objectives of the study by the farmers. This led the farmers to give incomplete information. However, the interviewer did his best to allay fears of the respondents through the use of local leaders to interpret the objectives and benefits of the study since language was one of the major barriers to communication.
1.9 Definition of terms
Storage: the act of putting something that is not being used in a place where it is available, where it can be kept safely, etc.
Storage Structure: these are the various ways/methods used in storing things that are not being used in places where they are available for use.
Food Storage: This is the process in which both cooked and raw materials are stored in appropriate conditions for future use without any entry multiplication of microorganisms.
Cereal Crops: Cereal crops are any grass cultivated for the edible components of its grain, composed of endosperm, germ and bran.