CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of the Study Agriculture was the leading sector in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In terms of contribution to the economy, it accounted for 63% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), in 1960 – 1964, 54% of the GDP in 1965 – 1969 (Aigbokan, 2001). According to Balogun (2001) agriculture accounted for about 65% - 69% of the total exports and decline to about 40% in 1970. By 1996, agricultural export accounted for less than 2% of the export.
Maize (Zea mays. L) is one of the important agricultural products and is the most important cereal crop in sub-Saharan Africa (Babaleyeet al., 2002).Maize ranks second following wheat in the world’s production of cereals. In 1989, the world production was 470.3 million metric tonnes from 129.6 million hectares with an average yield of 3.627kg/ha. Out of this, 36.4 million metric tonnes was produced in Africa. In West and Central Africa, the importance of maize is on the increase (Balogun, 2001). It is the most widely cultivated crop in the region, from the humid rainforest zone to the semi and Sudan Savannah and even the Sahel and from sea level to over 2000 metres altitude where over 5 million hectares are grown (Fajemisin, 1992). In 1994, the estimated total production of maize in Nigeria was 6.90 million metric tonnes from an estimated area of 5.43 million hectares of land (Lagoke et al., 1997). Maize production is currently attracting more attention than the more traditional cereal crops, such as sorghum and millet in subsistence farming systems in Northern Nigeria. This is attributed to increased demand for maize for the preparation of various food items and industrial purposes. Unfortunately, increased production has been constrained by a number of abiotic and biotic factors including striga (Lagoke et al., 1997).