Distribution of livestock farmers by level of awareness of organic farming practice.
To provide solutions to the issues of climate change, food insecurities, environmental degradation, food safety and sustainability in production, organic farming was developed as opposed to the conventional method of farming which involved the use of synthetic fertilizers and other agro-chemicals. The objectives of the study was to determine the level of awareness of organic farming practices and to determine the use and level of use of organic farming practices among livestock and fish farmers in the study area. Multistage sampling techniques were employed. Primary data was collected through structured questionnaire. Sample size comprised of 115 fish farmers and 99 livestock farmers which made a total of 214 rural farmers. Results showed that fish farmers were more aware of organic farming practices relative to livestock farmers. Also, fish farmers used more of organic farming methods for fishing activities than livestock farmers. However, the level of awareness and level of use of organic farming practices was low for both farmers. Therefore, it was recommended that extension campaign on organic farming sensitization should be increased.
- organic agriculture
- use level
Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Agriculture in its nature is multifunctional. This multi-functionality nature relates to food production, security and safety, environment and landscape, water management and social and economic focus . Agriculture has the capability to feed its population, serve as a source of revenue to the nation, provide employment and employment opportunities and serve as source of raw materials to agro-allied industries . In recent times however, these functions could not be met given that food production in the nation could no longer meet up with the rapid population growth and thus reduction in exports . In order to address the issues of insufficient food supply to meet the need of the nation’s ever growing population, the use of agro-chemicals was adopted. This led to an increase in crop and animal production through the use of synthetic fertilizers and other agro-chemicals. Nevertheless, a number of side effects from the use of synthetic fertilizers and other agro-chemicals have been recorded and hence has led to the development of organic farming.
Inorganic fertilizers usually cause water pollution due to the leaching and washing away of such agro-chemicals by erosion in rivers . It argued that most inorganic fertilizers and chemicals used in agriculture are manufactured using non-renewable resources such as fossil fuel which usually contributes to pollution and environmental degradation and hence unsustainable agricultural production . Organic farming is a multifunctional system with benefits which cuts across economic, environmental and social functions. The multifunctional benefits of organic farming includes its contributions to the improvement of livelihoods, food security, resilience to climate change, increase in yields in a long run bases, reducing financial risks, creating market opportunities, improving health and the environment, combating desertification among other numerous benefits .
Organic farming represents a deliberate attempt to make the best use of local natural resources and is an environmental friendly system of farming. Organic farming is a production system that excludes the use of synthetically manufactured chemicals like fertilizers, pesticides, growth enhancers/regulators, food additives, fungicides and herbicides [6, 7, 8]. Organic farming practices include crop rotation, biological pest control, crop residues, cover crop, legumes, organic fertilizers, animal manures and green manures among others . Organic farming technology is frequently regarded as the solution to environmental problems that are related to agriculture as well as food safety . It usually has “zero impact on the environment” [9, 4, 11].
Organic farming practices has been shown to affects soil microbiological and chemical properties by increasing soil nutrient availability, microbial biomass and microbial activity, which represent a set of sensitive indicators of soil quality [12, 13]. In addition to other benefits especially as it relates to health and food safety, organic farming has shown to be safer and healthy [14, 15]. It also results to increased levels of flavonoids1 when used for the production of fruits and vegetables  and protects against cancer and other age related diseases to a lesser extent . Organic farming increases insect pollination and overall specie richness . The major goal of organic farming activities is a sustainable production of food with little or no effect on the environment. This goal and many others have not been achieved by conventional farming hence the need to encourage organic farming which is capable of providing solutions to the current environmental challenges like the climate change and environmental hazards and also help to achieve maximal production of quality food sustainably . Food and Agriculture Organization clearly states that organic agriculture promotes ecological resilience, improves bio-diversity, healthy management of farm and surrounding environment and building community knowledge and strength .
Keynote address emphasized that in Nigeria and many developing countries, organic agriculture is just developing . As at the ending of 2016, report showed that Africa as a whole contributes to only 3% (i.e., 1.8 million hectares) of the total organic farmlands of the world [20, 21]. This contribution is mostly accounted for from East African countries with little or nothing from Nigeria. These points to the need to fast track organic farming development in Nigeria. Hence, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM) and their members were charged with the responsibilities of developing organic farming in Nigeria during the second national conference on organic agriculture which held in Nigeria . However, literatures argued that the yield from organic agriculture is lower than the yield from the conventional methods . This may be the case but notwithstanding, the net farm income of organic farmers was reported more profitable than that of conventional farmers . Part of the (better) profits from certified OA resulted from the premium paid by contracting companies. The revenue generated from organic farming is higher than that of conventional methods because of the higher product prices generated from it .
Thus, the general objectives of the study are to ascertain the household level of awareness and use of organic farming practices in South-South Nigeria. Specifically, the study determined the level of awareness of organic farming practices among livestock and fish farmers, identified the use of organic farming practices among livestock and fish farmers and determined the level of use of organic farming practices among livestock and fish farmers in the study area.
The area of study is South-South Nigeria which comprises six (6) states namely: Delta, Bayelsa, Edo, Rivers, Cross River and Akwa Ibom as shown in Figure 1.
The study population comprises of rural households engaged in livestock and fish farmers. Multistage random selection technique was employed. The first stage was the random selection of three states—Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa-Ibom. The study population is the livestock and fish farmers in Bayelsa, Delta and Akwa-Ibom. Delta state is divided into three agricultural zones—Delta North, Delta South and Delta Central out of which Delta central was selected. Bayelsa state is also classified into three agricultural zones—Brass, Yenagoa and Sagbama out of which brass zone was sampled. Akwa-Ibom is divided into six agricultural zones—Abak, Eket, Etinan, Ikot Ekpene, Oron and Uyo zones. Two zones Uyo and Ikot Ekpene were samples. A total of 99 livestock farmers and 115 fish farmers were sampled. The lists of farmers were gotten from the zonal managers in charge of each zone. Primary data were collected through the use of a questionnaire and interview schedule. Data obtained were analyzed using descriptive statistics as mean and percentages. Four point Likert scale was used to measure the response of famers in terms of their awareness level of organic agriculture and their use and use level of organic farming practices.
3. Results and discussions
Table 1 shows the result for the level of awareness of organic farming practices among livestock farmers. The mean and percentages of the response were clearly shown.
|Organic Farming Practices for livestock||Not at all||Low||Moderate||High||Mean||Decision|
|Adequate land holding||33 (33.3)||40 (40.4)||14 (14.1)||12 (12.1)||2.05||Not aware|
|Farm diversification||44 (44.4)||29 (29.3)||25 (25.5)||1 (1.0)||1.82||Not aware|
|Free movement of animals/Provision of fresh air and natural day light||61 (61.6)||6 (6.1)||25 (25.3)||7 (7.1)||1.77||Not aware|
|Protection against adverse weather condition||57 (57.6)||2 (2.0)||30 (30.3)||10 (10.1)||1.92||Not aware|
|Resting areas||57 (57.6)||16 (16.2)||13 (13.1)||13 (13.1)||1.81||Not aware|
|Clean and dry beddings||55 (55.6)||3 (3.0)||29 (29.3)||15 (15.2)||2.09||Not aware|
|Enough space for exercise||52 (52.5)||3 (3.0)||29 (29.3)||15 (15.2)||2.07||Not aware|
|Access to fresh drinking water by livestock||12 (12.1)||1 (1.0)||59 (59.6)||27 (27.3)||3.02||Aware|
|Allowing livestock to express natural behaviour||29 (29.3)||11 (11.1)||40 (40.1)||19 (19.2)||2.50||Aware|
|Use of local breed||59 (59.6)||2 (2.0)||26 (26.3)||12 (12.1)||1.90||Not aware|
|Natural reproduction technique||53 (53.6)||11 (11.1)||20 (20.2)||15 (15.2)||1.96||Not aware|
|Produce without genetic engineering, ionising radiation or sewage sludge||51 (51.5)||25 (25.3)||15 (15.2)||8 (8.1)||1.79||Not aware|
|Adequate feeding||16 (16.2)||64 (64.6)||0 (0.0)||19 (19.2)||2.86||Aware|
|Animal feeding is 100% organic||32 (32.3)||3 (3.0)||24 (24.2)||40 (40.4)||2.72||Aware|
|Prompt treatment of sick animals||27 (27.3)||10 (10.1)||51 (51.5)||11 (11.1)||1.74||Not aware|
|Manage animals without antibiotics||74 (74.7)||10 (10.1)||7 (7.1)||8 (8.1)||1.48||Not aware|
|Traditional/natural treatment of sick animals||62 (62.6)||11 (11.1)||15 (15.2)||11 (11.1)||1.74||Not aware|
|Vaccinate only during disease outbreak||69 (69.7)||16 (16.2)||8 (8.1)||6 (6.1)||1.50||Not aware|
|Manage without added growth hormones||45 (45.5)||29 (29.3)||15 (15.2)||10 (10.1)||1.89||Not aware|
|Accurate record keeping||33 (33.3)||1 (1.0)||40 (40.4)||25 (25.3)||2.57||Aware|
Table 1 showed that farmers were adequately aware of allowing livestock access to fresh drinking water ( = 3.02), adequate feeding ( = 2.86), animal feeding of 100% organic ( = 2.72) and accurate record keeping ( = 2.57). The four practices above had mean scores above the discriminating index. The other practices were below the discriminating index of 2.50. The grand mean on the level of adoption for livestock farmers was 2.06. This shows that farmer’s level of awareness of organic farming practices for livestock production is low. This is in-line with . They implied that low awareness of organic agriculture was as a result of low coverage. Therefore, this study suggested that the low farmer’s awareness could be as a result of poor extension campaign in organic livestock practices.
Table 2 shows the level of awareness of organic farming practices among fish farmers in the study area. The mean and percentages of the response were clearly shown.
|Organic Farming Practices||Not at all||Low||Moderate||High||Mean||Decision|
|Eco-friendly design||22 (19.1)||4 (3.5)||51 (44.3)||38 (33.0)||2.91||Aware|
|Manage without growth Hormone||31 (27.0)||3 (2.6)||61 (53.0)||20 (17.4)||2.60||Aware|
|Antibiotics is only used in clinical cases where no other treatment would work||65 (56.5)||2 (1.7)||19 (16.5)||29 (25.2)||2.10||Not Aware|
|Cultivate without genetic engineering.||44 (38.3)||5 (4.3)||21 (18.3)||45 (39.1)||2.58||Aware|
|Site is far from polluting substances||63 (54.8)||4 (3.5)||20 (17.4)||28 (24.3)||2.11||Not Aware|
|High quality water source (stream, river)||31 (27.0)||1 (0.9)||31 (27.0)||52 (45.2)||2.90||Aware|
|Organic fertilizer||54 (47.0)||4 (3.5)||20 (17.4)||31 (27.0)||2.24||Not Aware|
|Low stock density 10kg/m||39 (39.9)||6 (5.2)||47 (40.9)||23 (20.0)||2.46||Not Aware|
|Manage without synthetic appetizer and colouring||40 (34.8)||15 (13.0)||44 (38.3)||16 (13.9)||2.31||Not Aware|
|Polyculture||70 (60.9)||13 (11.3)||18 (15.7)||14 (12.2)||1.79||Not Aware|
|Proper record keeping||65 (56.5)||3 (2.6)||18 (15.7)||29 (25.2)||2.09||Not Aware|
|Pond protection from predators||13 (11.3)||2 (1.7)||36 (31.3)||64 (55.7)||3.31||Aware|
|Use of resistant species||29 (25.2)||1 (0.9)||34 (29.6)||51 (44.3)||2.95||Aware|
|Natural treatment (homeopathy)||43 (37.4)||8 (7.0)||11 (9.6)||53 (46.1)||2.64||Aware|
Table 2 revealed that farmers were aware of such organic farming practices as eco-friendly design ( = 2.91), high quality water source ( = 2.90), pond protection from predators ( = 3.36), use of resistant species ( = 2.95, natural treatment ( = 2.64), cultivation without genetic engineering ( = 2.58) and management without growth hormones ( = 2.60). Other practices were below mean score of ( = 2.50). The grand mean was 2.49. This implies a moderate awareness level which could be as a result of organic fish farming practices being in line with the traditional method of fish farming.
Table 3 shows the use of organic farming practices by livestock farmers in the study area.
|Organic farming practices||Use||%||Non use||%|
|Organic Farming Practices for livestock|
|Adequate land holding||44||44.5||55||55.5|
|Free movement of animals|
Provision of fresh air and natural day light
|Protection against adverse weather condition||29||29.9||70||70.1|
|Clean and dry beddings||41||41.4||58||58.6|
|Enough space for exercise||46||46.6||53||53.4|
|Access to Fresh drinking water||75||75.8||24||24.2|
|Allowing livestock to Express natural behaviour||63||63.6||36||36.4|
|Use of local breed||49||49.5||50||50.5|
|Natural reproduction technique||57||57.6||42||42.4|
|Produce without genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge||40||40.4||59||59.6|
|Animal feeding is 100% organic||52||52.5||47||47.5|
|Prompt treatment of sick animals||60||60.6||39||39.4|
|Manage animals without antibiotics||21||21.2||78||78.8|
|Traditional/natural treatment of sick animals||36||36.4||63||63.6|
|Vaccinate only during disease outbreak||23||23.2||76||76.8|
|Manage without added growth hormones||31||31.3||68||68.7|
|Accurate record keeping.||54||54.5||45||45.5|
According to Table 3, organic farming practices commonly used by livestock farmers includes fresh drinking water (76%), adequate feeding (73%), allowing livestock to express natural behavior (64%), prompt treatment of sick animals (61%), natural reproduction technique (58%), accurate record keeping (55%), animal feed is 100% organic (53%), free movement of animals/provision of fresh air and natural day light (51%) and use of local breed (50%). Out of 20 organic livestock practices, only 9 were above average and this is not up to 50% rating. This is not surprising since most livestock farmers are yet to be abreast with what organic livestock entails hence the low awareness level.
Table 4 shows the result for the use of organic farming practices by fish farmers in the study area.
|Organic Farming Practices||Use||%||Non use||%|
|Manage without growth Hormone||84||73.0||31||27.0|
|Antibiotics is only used in clinical cases where no other treatment would work||70||60.9||45||39.1|
|Cultivate without genetic engineering.||64||55.7||51||44.3|
|Site is far from polluting substances||87||75.7||28||24.3|
|High quality water source (stream, river)||63||54.8||52||45.2|
|Low stock density 10k/m||35||30.4||80||69.6|
|Manage without synthetic appetizer and colouring||46||40.0||69||60.0|
|Proper record keeping||53||46.1||62||53.9|
|Pond protection from predators||93||80.9||22||19.1|
|Use of resistant species||80||69.6||35||30.4|
|Natural treatment (homeopathy)||65||66.5||50||43.5|
The use of organic farming practices among fish farmers varied slightly in percentages as shown in Table 4. However, the commonly used organic farming practices includes pond protection from predators (81%), eco-friendly design (79%), site protection far from polluting substances (76%), manage without growth hormones (73%), use of resistant varieties had (70%), natural treatment (67%), antibiotics is used in clinical cases where no other treatment would work (61%), cultivated without genetic engineering (56%), high quality water source (55%) and poly-culture (51%). The use of organic farming practices by fish farmers was relatively high compared to organic farming practices by livestock farmers. This could be attributed to the fact that most of the organic practices are in line with the traditional practices of the people.
Table 5 shows the result for the level of use of organic farming practices among livestock farmers.
|Organic Farming Practices for livestock||Never||Rarely||Regularly||Very regularly||Mean||Decision|
|Adequate land holding||55 (55.5)||9 (9.1)||25 (25.3)||10 (10.1)||1.89||NU|
|Farm diversification||60 (60.5)||9 (9.1)||20 (20.2)||10 (10.1)||1.79||NU|
|Free movement of animals/Provision of fresh air and natural day light||49 (49.5)||16 (16.2)||34 (34.3)||0 (0.00)||1.84||NU|
|Protection against adverse weather condition||70 (70.1)||1 (1.0)||28 (28.3)||0 (0.00)||1.57||NU|
|Resting areas||74 (74.7)||5 (5.1)||20 (20.2)||0 (0.00)||1.45||NU|
|Clean and dry beddings||58 (58.6)||1 (1.0)||39 (39.4)||1 (1.0)||1.83||NU|
|Enough space for exercise||53 (53.4)||15 (15.2)||20 (20.2)||11 (11.1)||1.89||NU|
|Access to fresh drinking water||24 (24.2)||1 (1.0)||48 (48.5)||26 (26.3)||2.77||U|
|Allowing livestock to Express natural behaviour||36 (36.4)||3 (3.0)||57 (57.6)||3 (3.0)||2.27||NU|
|Use of local breed||50 (50.5)||1 (1.0)||37 (37.4)||11 (11.1)||2.09||NU|
|Natural reproduction technique||42 (42.4)||1 (1.0)||46 (46.5)||10 (10.1)||2.24||NU|
|Produce without genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge||59 (59.6)||4 (4.0)||32 (32.3)||4 (4.0)||1.81||NU|
|Adequate feeding||26 (26.3)||1 (1.0)||54 (54.5)||18 (18.2)||2.65||U|
|Animal feeding is 100% organic||47 (47.5)||3 (3.0)||34 (34.3)||15 (15.2||2.17||NU|
|Prompt treatment of sick animals||39 (39.4)||1 (1.0)||57 (57.6)||2 (2.0)||2.22||NU|
|Manage animals without antibiotics||78 (78.8)||3 (3.0)||17 (17.2)||1 (1.0)||1.40||NU|
|Traditional/natural treatment of sick animals||63 (63.6)||8 (8.1)||27 (27.3)||1 (1.0)||1.65||NU|
|Vaccinate only during disease outbreak||76 (76.8)||11 (11.1)||11 (11.1)||1 (1.0)||1.36||NU|
|Manage without added growth hormones||68 (68.7)||2 (2.0)||29 (29.3)||0 (0.00)||1.60||NU|
|Accurate record keeping||45 (45.5)||3 (3.0)||50 (50.5)||1 (1.0)||2.07||NU|
From Table 5, organic livestock production practices’ in South-South Nigeria is low (grand mean = 1.93) as only 2 (10%) out of 20 outlined practices had mean score of 2.50 (discriminating index) and above. That is access to fresh drinking water (mean score = 2.77) and adequate feeding (mean score = 2.65). This result implied that the level of use is rare.
Table 6 shows the level of use of organic farming practices among fish farmers in the study area.
|Organic Farming Practices||Never||Rarely||Regularly||Very. regularly||Mean||Decision|
|Eco-friendly design||24 (20.9)||6 (5.2)||81 (70.4)||4 (3.5)||2.56||U|
|Manage without growth hormone||31 (27.0)||5 (4.3)||79 (68.7)||0 (0.0)||2 41||NU|
|Antibiotics is only used in clinical cases where no other treatment would work||45 (39.1)||29 (25.2)||40 (34.8)||1 (0.9)||1.97||NU|
|Cultivate without genetic engineering.||51 (44.3)||7 (6.1)||38 (33.0)||19 (16.5)||2.21||NU|
|Site is far from polluting substances||28 (24.3)||9 (7.8)||62 (53.9)||16 (13.9)||2.57||U|
|High quality water source (stream, river,||52 (45.2)||2 (1.7)||53 (46.1)||8 (7.0)||2.14||NU|
|Organic fertilizer||59 (51.3)||11 (9.6)||43 (37.4)||2 (1.7)||1.89||NU|
|Low stock density 10k/m||80 (69.6)||2 (1.7)||29 (25.2)||4 (3.5)||1.62||NU|
|Manage without synthetic appetizer and colouring||69 (60.0)||1 (0.9)||30 (26.1)||15 (13.0)||1.92||NU|
|Polyculture||56 (48.7)||7 (6.1)||50 (43.5)||2 (1.7)||1.98||NU|
|Proper record keeping||62 (53.9)||1 (0.9)||44 (38.3)||8 (7.0)||1.98||NU|
|Pond protection from predators||22 (19.1)||1 (0.9)||81 (70.4)||11 (9.6)||2.70||U|
|Use of resistant species||35 (30.4)||3 (2.6)||69 (60.0)||8 (7.0)||2.43||NU|
|Natural treatment (homeopathy)||50 (43.5)||35 (30.4)||26 (22.6)||4 (3.5)||1.86||NU|
The results from Table 6 revealed that out of the fourteen (14) practices outlined, fish farmers regularly engaged in the use of three of such practices which are the use of eco-friendly design ( = 2.56), site being far from polluting substances ( = 2.57) and pond protection from predators ( = 2.70). From the result, the others were considered not being used. The grand mean of 1.99 indicates that the level of use of organic farming practices by fish farmers in the study area is low.
This could be associated with some challenges or difficulties in carrying out such practices and lack of awareness of the dangers associated with the conventional practices. This does not augur well for the quest for healthy living. There was a positive relationship between knowledge of agricultural practice and innovativeness of farmers . Thus the need to improved awareness of such practices to farmers.
The study concludes that the level of awareness of farmers to organic farming practices is low. However, fish farmers are better aware of such practices than livestock farmers. The justification between these major differences in the level of awareness of organic practices in farming activities could reflect on the livelihood of the southern communities in Nigeria. It is known that the major occupation is fishing. Therefore, it is only normal to be better aware of existing and improved techniques to improve fish farming other than the livestock counterpart. The study recommends that in the campaign for increased awareness of organic agriculture, special attention should be taken to create awareness to farmers on how organic farming practices can be applied for livestock production as well since this sector had shown a lower level of awareness.
Conclusion is also drawn on the use of organic farming practices among farmers. The use of organic farming practices is higher for fish farmers relative to livestock farmers. The rationale to this difference is drawn from the observation that some of the indigenous knowledge and traditional practices of fish farmers were similar to identified organic practices. However for livestock farmers, the opposite was observed and thus the low use of organic practices for production. It is recommended that extension personnel should educate farmers on the adoption of organic farming methods in production with special interest on livestock farmers. This is believed to contribute to the improvement in the use of organic farming methods for fish and livestock production. Particularly, livestock farmers should be educated on the use of such practices as: no antibiotics used, vaccination only during disease outbreak, protection of animals from adverse weather conditions and farm diversification. Likewise, fish fishers should be educated on such practices as: low stock density, no synthetic appetizer and coloring, proper record keeping and use of organic fertilizers.
In spite of the observation that fish farmers used more of organic farming methods relative to livestock farmers, the level of use of organic farming practices among both groups of farmers is low, despite the importance drawn from using organic methods for agricultural production. This draws to the need for increased extension campaign to sensitize farmers and sustain the interest in organic agriculture. It is also recommended that policymakers should create more windows of opportunities and incentives as well as the enabling environment to encourage more farmers to participate in organic farm production. This is believed to contribute to the increase in the level of awareness, use and practices of organic agriculture in South-South Nigeria.
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