FARMING SYSTEM CASE STUDY, IJAYE, NIGERIA
West Africa: West Africa is highly diverse in its human, ecological, and natural resources and in
terms of cultural, religious, and ethnic background. Culturally there are more than 2000 tribes with
distinct dialect and social customs. The population of West Africa is about 180 million or 45% of sub-
Saharan Africa. Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa containing about 100 million people
belonging to some 500 tribes. In Nigeria Yoruba, Igbo, and Housa are the three major tribes.
Macro-economic environment: Nigerian economy is dominated by the petroleum sector which
constitutes 90% of export earnings. Country is short in rice and vegetable oils production to meet
its consumption requirement and lacks natural resources to meet growing demand of wheat, sugar,
cotton, and dairy products. Agriculture sector is dominated by small scale family farms which
produce food and cash crops. Fertilizer supplies have increased. Due to poor distribution system and
lack of rural credit service the fertilizer price subsidy of 75% is mostly benefitting the few para-
statal and commercial farms. Insecticides and herbicides are expensive and only limited quantities
are imported. Modern agricultural manufacturing sector except for imported wheat and breweries
is not available. A good network of secondary roads and private road transportation has been
developed. Country lacks modern storage of any kind and market prices of agricultural commodities
fluctuate widely between seasons and years. About 40% of population live in urban areas.
Social environment: Nigerian people in general and Yoruba people in particular have strong tribal
attachment such that allegiance to family, village and large tribal group weighs highly in their social
and political life. People are prideful and weigh leisure and participation in social events very highly.
Extended family system offers security at the time of economic hardship and misfortune. A family
with good harvests share its food and cash with needy relations. In Yoruba culture money borrowed
is rarely returned. The Ijaye area belongs to Yoruba tribe which is settled along the coastal areas of
West African countries. Cassava and yams ate staple food for Yoruba and Igbo, and sorghum and
millet are staple food for the northern Housa people.
Ecological regions: The diverse ecology of Nigeria varies between highly humid rain forest in the
South and dry semi-arid in the North.
a) Humid rain forest: Long mono-modal to bi-modal rainy season of 8-10 months with rainfall of
1800-2500 mm. Soils are acidic, highly leached. Vegetation- thick forest, oil palm, cacao, coconut,
plantains, papaya, cassava.
b) Transitional humid areas: Bi-modal rainfall of 1300-1700 mm in 6-7 months. Soils moderately
acidic, vegetation- forest trees, oil palm, cacao, plantains/banana, oranges, pine apple, papaya,
cassava, yams, maize,.
c) Southern Guinea Savanna: Mono-modal rainfall of 1200-1400 mm in 6 months. Soils eroded,
vegetation- trees, shrubs, grasses, cassava, yams, maize, groundnut.
d) Northern Guinea Savanna: Mono-modal rainfall of 900-1200 mm in 5-6 months. Soils light
sandy, vegetation- shrubs, grasses, maize, sorghum, yams, groundnut, rice.
e) Semi-arid: Rainfall 600-900 mm in 4-5 months. Soils sandy, vegetation- grasses, sorghum, millet,
Ijaye area lies in the transitional humid zone with bi-modal rainfall of 1350 mm. First rainy season
starts in mid April and ends in July and second short rainy season starts in mid August and ends in
mid-October. The area is 20 miles from the large city of Ibadan.
Village: Ijaye is relatively large village of 100 houses and is surrounded by 8 small villages. A
weekly village market is held at Ijaye where outside traders come to buy farm products. Houses are
made from the local material except corrugated tin roofing, farm products are stored in side the
house. A village school is located away from the village. Yoruba villages do not have shops but many
families erect a stand in front of their houses to sell daily use household essentials. All households
practice farming and there is no other full time occupation, although few farmers may do part-time
hired labor jobs for rich farmers. Village land boundaries are not defined and land area is not
known. Each Yoruba village has a traditional ruler called Village Chief who allocates land among
farmers and settle local disputes.
Village School: Government has provided primary and middle level co-ed schools for a group of
villages. A 2-3 rooms middle school is located in the open with plenty area for play grounds and
teaching children about arable farming. About 40-50% of rural children attend schools who also work
on farms during holidays and after school hours.
Rural Water Supply: Seasonal streams containing surface runoffs are the major source for drinking,
processing of harvests, and meeting other needs. Some villages may have a single well. Women collect
water for household use. Water supply during the dry season is reduced which increases women time
input for processing cassava and fetching water.
Black Smith: Village chief or another leading farmer may possess limited skills to make and repair
rudimentary hand tools. Farmers generally depend on outside sources for the supply of farm tools.
Household: A typical farm family is 7-10 members, but many families are as big as 15-20 members.
Many farmers have more than one wife. Big family size is regarded blessing and woman who bear
more children is respected. Child mortality rate is high. Daughters and sons are equally valued.
Extended family ties are strong which influence the social, cultural, and economic life of the
household. For social events each adult member of the family, even if living away from the family,
is expected to make cash contribution to maintain their rights and obligations in the village. An
individual's right to community land is based on how well he has maintained ties to the village. All
members of family contribute to farm work, although there is some division of labor,and specific
obligations to meet family food and cash needs.
Land Use Rights & Farm Size: All agricultural land is legally owned by the government but
traditional community land use rights are still the dominant norm. Village Chief has the overall
authority to allocate land among farmers. Farmers' land use and ownership rights of community land
are defined by the planting of perennial economic trees such as oil palm, cacao, coconut, plantains,
etc. Farmers do not know the size of their farm which is usually determined by the size of household
labor. Farms lack permanent improvements such as terracing, drainage,etc. Some Yoruba women may
have their individual plots or farm as part of the women coop group and they are responsible for
their cultivation. Some women also cultivate compound fields.
Farming System: The traditional farming system in Ijaye area is shifting cultivation in which
farmers have been shifting their arable fields after every 3-5 years due to the decline of soil fertility
and build up of pest and disease pressure. The entire village community may shift from one area to
another. Recently increased population density has lead to a semi-permanent cultivation practices
in which bush-fallow period has been reduced from 20 to 3-5 years and shifting of land is limited
to fields within the village. Tsetse fly which causes sleeping sickness among cattle has kept livestock
out of the FS. Small ruminants such as goats and sheep are now kept by many households. Farming
is manual with the .use of small hand tools. Animal traction is absent and only few farmers have
excess to government subsidized tractor service. The farming system includes farming activities of
arable crops, tree crops (oil palm, cacao, plantains/banana, papaya); and few small ruminants and
chicken; and processing and trading activities of family women.
Farm Tools: A very simple and primitive type of hand tools and equipment are used by the farmers.
The total cash value of the complete kit of farmer's hand tools is about N 300 ($ 50.) They include:
Hoes-small & large size, machetes, traps for bush animals/rodents.
Chicken cage, cacao harvesting sticks, pots for soaking cassava tubers.
Baskets, pots for palm wine, roap for climbing oil palm trees, sacks, sticks for shelling maize.
Crib for storing maize cobs: free passage of air keep grains relatively dry and insect free. Cribs are
not common due to deterioration of grain quality if stored for longer period. Most farmers store their
seed maize cobs with husks close to the fire place.
Hard floor: for drying fermented cassava tubers.
Cacao field: Traditionally a major cash crop but became neglected after Nigeria lost export market
due to overvalue of its currency and lack of extension support service. Devaluation of currency by
500% has caused a surge in cocoa bean export demand and has attracted farmers back into cacao
plantation. An average farmer plant 1/2 acre of cacao trees. The productive life span of cocoa tree
is 25-30 years.
Cacao tree with fruits: Men harvest fruit, women remove cocoa beans and dry them.
Oil palm trees: Naturally established, tall, unimproved and poorly managed. Each farmer has 30-
50 productive trees in his cultivated and fallow fields. In the humid forest zone oil palms are the
source of cooking oil. Palm oil is sold in localmarkets.
Tapping palm wine: A common social drink. Farmers rarely sell but share with friends and
Oil Palm Groves: are harvested by men, crushed and processed by women to meet 25-30 Kg/year
Compound field: Some households own 1/4 acre compound fields near the house or adjoining the
village boundary for growing vegetables and relish food crops. These plots are permanently cultivated
by women and they use household refuse such as ashes, goat and chicken manure, etc to maintain
the fertility of compound fields.
Goats: 2-3 small goats raised and cared by women. Market prices of goats are high (N 60-70)
especially during the social and religious festival period. A family usually sell one goat and consume
1-2 goats. Goats scavenge around eating peels of cassava tubers, household wastes, and graze in
Chickens: 6-10 chickens raised by women. 3-4 sold at N 5-7/bird and rest home consumed.
Fire wood: Extracted by women for own use and selling to visiting traders.
Transitional ecology: Undulating land scape covered with trees, tall weeds/grasses, and arable fields.
About 40% of area cultivated and remainder mostly in short fallow. Bush fallow provide natural
habitat to grass cutters, antelopes, snakes, etc. Yoruba like snake meat and can be sold on the road
Bush fire: During the dry season bushes and dry grasses are burnt which help control weeds, reduce
pests and diseases, provide P205 and K20 nutrients and hunt bush animals. Although illegal, setting
of bush fire is extensive both by farmers and Fulani herdsmen. Bush fire reduces farmer land
clearing labor input by reducing bio-mass and killing trees. At the end of dry season Fulani set fire
which they consider fertilize soils and induce growth of fresh grasses for the next year.
Ash cover after bush fire. Tall oil-palm trees survive bush fire and tree stumps are left in the field
to reduce soil erosion, use as stakes for yam crop, and are source of soil nutrients and organic matter.
Land preparation: Use of hoes
Making mounds for root crops
Flat tillage causes excessive soil erosion of 15-20 tons/year.
Planting: Women help men farmer
COMMON CROPS IN IJAYE AREA
Cassava oil palm intercrop
Groundnut/ cowpea with lacunae trees
Yam & maize
White maize preferred for home consumption
Maize harvests: with husks stored in the field.
Maize husking- women/ coop groups.
Cassava tubers: Can be stored in the ground_12-18 months. Farmer harvest according to family
needs and what can be sold in the market. Cassava is a food security crop bridges food supply gaps
between seasons and years. In Nigeria cassava leaves are not eaten although it is a common vegetable
in other countries.
Crop fields in dry season: rains stop in mid-October and vegetation begin to dry up in December.
Crop fields in rainy season:
a) Cultivation of compound fields to sustain family nutrition and produce variety of relish food.
b) -Harvesting of crops.
c) Transportation of crop harvests.
d) Post-harvest activities, processing, marketing, storage.
Soaking of cassava tubers: Soaked for 18-24 hours to remove HCN.
Peeling cassava tubers: Manual removal of peels before tubers are processed into flour or "gari". Peel
of sweet cassava fed to goats.
Pressing of cassava tubers: For the removal of excess water and HCN.
Grating of tubers:
Pounding of cassava/yam tubers.
(processing of cassava tubers extremely labor intensive. Production of cassava crop is directly related
to the availability of women labor).
Marketing: Women buy dry maize (also green maize cobs) for selling to visiting traders.
Transportation: Transportation from farm to house and/or market.
Women Trader. Women assemble yams to transport to town markets, selling tubers, red pepper,
tomato, etc in local weekly or 4-day markets.
Division of Labor between men and women:
Crop/Activity Pre-harvest Post-harvest
Cassava M W
Maize M W
Yam M W/M
Vegetables M/W W
Pine apples W W
Papaya M W
Plantains M W
Oil palm M W
Cropping System: Planting and harvesting periods and crop season length. Intercropping systems
to produce a variety of food, maximize return to labor, reduce crop failure risks, reduce soil erosion
Farm labor input: Labor peaks caused by weeding, harvesting of Ist season and planting of 2nd
Total farm production; sold and home consumed.
Cash income: by farm activity.
Farm productivity: returns to farmer land, labor and capital resources.
Biological: Weeds(eupatorium, impreta), pests (cassava mealy bug, cowpea pests), and streak virus.
Soil: Erosion, leaching of nutrients, rapid soil degradation under arable farming.
Other. Shortage of farm labor, lack of farm storage, credit, improved planting material for tree
crops, processing capacity for palm oil, cocoa beans, etc.
Table 1: Traditional farmer's kit of farm tools and its approx. cost
Item Number Value(N)*
Machete 5 40.
Hoe-small 4 20.
big 3 30.
Animal trap 3 30.
Basket 2 10
Sack 2 10.
Climbing rope 1 5.
Bucket 2 16.
Large pot 3 20
* N(Naira) = $ 0.16
Table 2: Cropping pattern of traditional farmers in Ijaye area, Nigeria
Crop Area in Area in
mono crop mix crop
Maize 0.01 0.91
Cassava 0.41 0.65
bitter) 0.00 0.56
Cocoyam 0.00 NA
Sweet potato 0.00 NA
Cowpea 0.00 0.23
Groundnut 0.00 0.08
Egusi melon 0.15 0.00
Vegetables 0.02 0.66
Tobacco 0.00 0.06
Plantains/Banana NA 0.00
Orange 0.00 5 trees
Cacao 0.00 25 trees
Kolanut 0.00 2 trees
Oil palm 0.00 40 trees
Table 3: Total labor input (work-days) of
activities, Ijaye, Nigeria
a household in production
Men Women Children
Land clearing 25 0 0
Seedbed prep 46 0 0
Planting 40 10 10
Weeding 75 40 20
Harvesting 40 30 30
Transportation 20 60 30
Processing 0 75 50
Local/village 0 150 50
Market town 0 200 0
246 565 190
CROP ENTERPRISE PLANTING DECISIONS, ITAYE, NIGERIA
15 Apr.- 16 May Iro (Ha)
15 Apr.-16 May June July/Aug. enterprise (Ha)
in) (rains start)
Labor input (man-days) for farm activities for 3 farmer
types in Ijaye area Nigeria, 1983.
1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
J F MA M J J
A S 0 N D
Table 12: Value of farm products (Naira)sold and consumed by
farmer type Ijaye 1983*
* Refers only to the
1 Naira = $ 1.25
area harvested during the year.
Table 13: Technology adoption and its results on farm systems
farmer Part- Full-
(A) (B) (C)
Area planted to improved seed, % 50 75 75
Area fertilized % 0 60 75
Area tractor plowed % 0 40 75
Area applied with herbicides % 0 60 75
Maize storage capacity, tons 0 4 8
Cassava processing pit & dry flour 0 0 1
Area cropped, ha 1.7 2.8 4.3
Cash costs, N/yr 120 624 728
Labor input, man-days/ha 175 91 80
Total crop value, N* 1704 2280 4464
Crop production sold, % 15 50 70
Measures of efficiency**
Return to land, N/ha -12 82 418
Return to capital, N 0.6 1 2.6
Return to labor & management, N/m.d. 5.3 6.2 10.5
Total crop production harvested during the year
including harvest extending into the next year.
** Calculated on the basis of arable crops only. N1 = $1.25
Table 14: Household cash income (Naira) by source and farmer
type Ijaiye, 1983
----- --------------------- --------------
Income source Tradi- ---- ------
(A) (B) (C)
1. Arable crops 97 1117 3119
2. Tree crops 183 150 -
3. Livestock 30 100 35
4. Trading (wives) 1500 1525 1470
5. Employment 1680 -
6. Other 255 70 300
Total 2066 4642 4924
---- ----------------------------------- ---
N 1 = $1.25
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