Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background to the Study Nigeria is predominantly rural in character in which more than 80% of total population lives in the rural areas (FAO, 2002). The economy is basically agrarian, with majority of the people living in squalor and very poor standard of living. Most of the farmers are subsistence small holders, farming 1.2 hectares of farmland under a traditional system characterized by low technology and production efficiency. Besides, they are also faced by problems of natural resource inputs, especially land, water, labour and management. The poverty among farm families goes beyond material deprivation to include insecurity, vulnerability, exposure to risks, shocks and stress. This poor condition of the rural communities had continued to deteriorate since independence due to severed neglect emanating from poor and inconsistent policies formulation and implementation by successive governments in Nigeria (Okozie, 2003). In cassava production, Nigeria is rated the highest producers in terms of its volume of production (FAO, 2002). However, it occupies the 8th position in terms of its productivity (kg/ha), relative to countries as Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia, Uganda, India, Ghana and Congo respectively. The reason for this is being attributed to a number of production factors, such as: the varieties cultivated and the management practices adopted. These farming practices have been revealed to be poor in Nigeria compared to such countries like Brazil, Thailand, Indonesia (FAO, 2002). The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan, National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike Umuahia and many other research institutions have developed appropriate cassava technology packages aimed at promoting cassava production and improvement on cassava yields. Cassava is a versatile crop with numerous uses. Each component of the crop can be valuable to farmer. In some area the leaves may be consumed as a vegetable or dried and fed the livestock as a protein feed supplement. The stem is used as planting material while the tubers are processed for human and animal consumption. In Nigeria, cassava is produced for food especially in the form of “gari”, “fufu”, “lafun” and “akpu” and is exported as an industrial raw material to conserved foreign earnings. Ojuekaiye (2001), stressed that cassava can be processed into several secondary product of industrial market value such; chips, pellets, flour, alcohol and starch which are vital raw material in livestock feed industries, textile and brewery industries. Cassava production also creates employment opportunities as well as contributing to the food security status of many farming households in Nigeria. 1.2 Problem Statement The Federal Capital Territory, Abuja is endowed with abundant fertile lands suitable for the production of cassava in commercial quantities. But the problem limiting the production of cassava in the FCT is the use of traditional methods by farmers. Traditional method in this study refers to the farmers’ ways of cultivating cassava such as; close or wide spacing, shallow planting depth, and the continuous use of local varieties such as; “Nwanye” and “Dan Warri” which reduced the yield potentials. The recommended cassava production practices (RCPPs) is package aimed at improvement on cassava yield. Osuagwu (2002), stated that cassava yield can be increased by adoption of recommended practices or by expanding the land area under cassava cultivation. The process of increasing cassava yield through modernization is depended on the extent to which farmers become aware of the existence of such recommended practices, develop interest, evaluate them, try them and become convinced of their relevance. It is only then that it can be expected that the farmers would adopt completely all the components of the recommended production practices. The study made use of eight recommended production practices. These were: i. Recommended planting material: healthy stem cutting with 4 – 5 nodes ii. Recommended planting time: April & June, then Aug. or September. iii. Recommended method of planting: planting on ridges at an angle. iv. Recommended planting depth: (5cm – 10cm) v. Recommended plant spacing: (1m x 1m) for sole cropping vi. Recommended fertilizer rate: (NPK 15:15:15, 4 – 8 bags per hectare) vii. Weeding : (herbicide application ) a. Pre-emergence herbicide: Alachlor (Lasso) at 300ml/CP15 knapsack pump. b. Selective post – emergence herbicide: Round-up at 4-5 litres per hectare. viii. Harvesting: (cassava lifters) Several studies (Okoosi 1990, Saito 1994 and Okozie, 2003) revealed that farmers in the study area have access to different improved cassava production practices and cassava hybrid cultivars. Thus, TMS 3057, TMS 4(2) 1425, TMS 99/2132, TMS 98/0581, NR 8032, MS6. The Federal government through the Cassava Multiplication Programme (CMP), the Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (R-TEP) and the Abuja Agricultural Development Project (ADP) have all made a lot of commitment in promoting the adoption of these recommended cassava production practices. However, in spite of all the efforts, the farmers in the study area are still practicing the traditional cassava production methods (Kuta, 2007). Consequently, the production of cassava in the study area in terms of its yield (1.2 million tones) is relatively low (BAC Annual Report, 2004). Therefore, the need to determine the factors influencing the adoption of recommended cassava production practices in the study area poses a key challenge. The research seeks to answer the following questions: i. what are the socio-economic characteristics of cassava farmers in the study area? ii. what are the different sources through which information reach farmers on recommended cassava production practices? iii. what are the levels of adoption of recommended cassava production practices by farmers in the study area? iv. what are the socio-economic, institutional and technological factors influencing the adoption of recommended cassava production practices by farmers? v. what are the effects of adoption of recommended cassava production practices on income and yield of farmers? vi. what are the constraints faced by farmers in the adoption of recommended cassava production practices?