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Implications économiques des droits de propriété sur l'utilisation de pesticides par les petits exploitants dans le sud-ouest du Nigéria

Le droit de propriété et son évolution représentent l'un des principaux facteurs incitant les agriculteurs à adopter des techniques d'amélioration des terres. Cet article examine les implications économiques des droits de propriété sur l'adoption et l'application de techniques d'apport d'engrais dans deux types d'environnement écologique de l'État d'Osun, au Nigéria.

Des données ont été recueillies sur la base d'un questionnaire structuré et de débats de groupes. Elles ont été analysées à l'aide de statistiques descriptives et une analyse des coûts et des retombées économiques a été effectuée. L'accès primaire est le régime foncier prédominant, 57 pour cent des terres étant acquises par héritage. La taille moyenne des exploitations est de 0,58 ha, et les terres sont cultivées sans interruption en moyenne pendant 13 ans, avec une jachère d'environ deux ans. Le revenu net moyen varie selon le type de droit de propriété. Les prix d'héritage partagé/non partagé et d'accès secondaire sont enregistrés. Les utilisateurs d'engrais bénéficient d'un revenu net annuel moyen supérieur à celui de ceux qui n'en utilisent pas. On a observé une différence considérable entre les utilisateurs selon les zones écologiques. Les débats ont montré que les agriculteurs privilégiaient les engrais, même si leur utilisation est rare et inadéquate. En d'autres termes, l'utilisation d'engrais a des répercussions sur les revenus d'une exploitation, quel que soit le type de droit de propriété. L'augmentation des subventions aux agriculteurs et leur sensibilisation à l'emploi approprié des engrais les aideront à mieux les utiliser pour améliorer la qualité des terres.

Consecuencias económicas de los derechos de propiedad para la utilización de fertilizantes por los pequeños agricultores de Nigeria sudoccidental

Los derechos de propiedad y sus diversas modalidades constituyen uno de los principales factores que influyen en la adopción de técnicas de mejora de la tierra entre los agricultores. En el presente artículo se estudia la repercusión económica de la situación de los derechos de propiedad en la adopción y utilización de fertilizantes por los agricultores en dos ecologías del estado de Osun en Nigeria.

Los datos se recogieron utilizando un cuestionario estructurado y debates de grupo. Los datos se analizaron mediante estadísticas descriptivas y análisis de costos y beneficios. El acceso primario constituía el régimen predominante de derechos de propiedad, adquiriéndose el 57 por ciento de las tierras mediante herencia. El tamaño medio de las explotaciones agrícolas era de 0,58 ha, y la tierra se cultivaba de forma continua durante un promedio de 13 años con un barbecho medio de dos años. Los ingresos netos medios variaban según la situación de los derechos de propiedad. Los encuestados que utilizaban fertilizantes disfrutaban de ingresos netos medios anuales mayores que quienes no los utilizaban, aunque existía una diferencia ecorregional significativa entre los usuarios. Los debates de grupo revelaron la preferencia de los encuestados por los fertilizantes, aunque éstos se utilizaran escasamente y de modo inapropiado. Esto parece indicar que la utilización de fertilizantes influye en los rendimientos agrícolas en diversos regímenes de derechos de propiedad. Una mayor transferencia de tecnología y la capacitación de los agricultores en su uso adecuado contribuirá a su adopción y empleo para mejorar la calidad de la tierra.


Economic implications of property rights on smallholder use of fertilizer in southwest Nigeria

A.S. Bamire* and Y.L. Fabiyi

Adebayo Simeon Bamire and Yakubu Layiwol Fabiyi are in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Faculty of
Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, Nigeria.
*Corresponding author: e-mail:abamire@oauife.edu.ng.

Property rights and their changing pattern constitute one of the principal factors that influence the adoption of land improvement techniques among farm operators. This paper examines the economic implication of property rights status on farmers' adoption and use of fertilizer technology in two ecologies of Osun State of Nigeria.

Data were collected using a structured questionnaire and focused group discussions. Data were analysed with descriptive statistics and costs and returns analysis. Primary access was the predominant property rights regime, with 57 percent of land being acquired through inheritance. Mean farm size was 0.58 ha, and land was continuously cropped for an average of 13 years with a mean fallow of two years. Mean net income varied according to property rights status. Purchase, divided/undivided inheritance and secondary access were recorded. Fertilizer-using respondents earned higher annual mean net income than non-users, while significant ecoregional differences existed among users. FGDs revealed respondents' preference for the use of fertilizer, although it was scarce and inappropriately used.

This implies that the use of fertilizer affects farm returns in different property rights regimes. Increased allocation of fertilizers to farmers and educating them on adequate use of the technology will aid its adoption and use for improved land quality.

INTRODUCTION

The property rights upon which land is held defines the use-relations of the farmland, as an economic unit, and also defines the price or performance required for the use of the land (Parsons, 1970; Fabiyi, 1976, 1984). During the last three decades, property rights or land tenure systems have been confronted with problems of population explosion, rising inflation and unemployment leading to the rising rural-urban drift of young people (Adesina, Chianu and Mbila, 1997; Manyong and Houndekon, 1997). As a result there is a need to modify the existing tenure systems in order to solve the complex and dynamic sets of problems affecting resource management, the adoption of new technologies, and farm income levels.

Property rights system in the southwest of Nigeria

There is no homogenous property rights system in Nigeria owing to local autonomy in land matters. However, there are many common elements in the property rights systems of both the southwestern and southeastern parts of Nigeria as these areas have not been subject to alien conquest, as occurred in the northern states in the early nineteenth century (FAO, 1975, 1997a; Fabiyi, 1984). Apart from the community control of distant fields in the southeast, the two areas share many similar characteristics in terms of use and reallocation.

Among the Yoruba (the inhabitants of southwestern Nigeria), land is the property of the extended family or the community and it is corporately owned. Generally, the group manages the family land and allocates this to members according to needs. The individual does not possess absolute title to the land but his right is co-equal to that of the other members of the community into which he was born or adopted (Oluwasanmi, 1966). Individual use rights are established by initial clearance and use of land - by mixing his labour with the soil and appropriating the land from its natural state. The use rights of individuals in the land are protected as long as that individual continues to make beneficial use of the land; the right to use also can also be transferred temporarily to a pledge creditor (pledgee) should the original user pledge the land to another person as security for debt. The occurrence of distant plots in the southeast, with their management and use under the full control of the community, means that such lands are not subject to the above conditions. Individual use rights are heritable, becoming family property to be shared out among the heirs according to the rules of inheritance honoured when the initial user dies. This right to use the land remains with the initial user of the land and his heirs, who also become part owners until the land is abandoned. When this occurs the residual interest of the community in the land is reasserted and the land reverts to the community to be held until another member of the group requires it. It may also be allocated to any stranger who "begs" for it. The holder of usufruct rights lacks the capacity to sell or dispose of the land.

In its pristine form, the customary system that prohibits the sale of common land in southern Nigeria evolved in response to the welfare needs of an entirely agricultural society, i.e. the social security requirements of a system in which land is the basis for survival. However, customary tenure systems are presently under stress in Nigeria from two major sources: the growth of population and the advances being made or sought towards the modernization of agriculture through investment, market orientation, technology and attempts to increase size in order to achieve economies of scale (Parsons, 1970). Nwosu (1991) notes that customary land tenure systems are breaking down under the impact of cash cropping, population pressure and non-agricultural enterprises.

These factors appear to have enhanced the growing individualization of land tenure (Famoriyo, 1973; FAO, 1997b). Where the individual owner has the sole right to use a piece of land, it is widely believed that this is highly desirable, and an essential component of any agricultural development programme (FAO, 1975, 1997a; Fabiyi, 1976; Feder et al., 1987). The pride of ownership and the security offered to the farm family by this form of tenure are thought to encourage long-term improvements to and conservation of the land.

In southwest Nigeria, individual ownership of land is on the increase as the traditional land tenure system discourages the cultivator from investing in land improvement owing to the lack of assurance against various rights of other members of the society to the piece of land in question. Thus, there exists a positive relationship between individual ownership and the use of intensification technologies. In southern Nigeria, the rapid population growth with an already large base engaged in agricultural pursuits, the deterioration of the quality of cropped land due to shortening of the fallow period, and access to markets for cash crops have combined to make agricultural land scarce and therefore more valuable. Where cash crops such as cocoa, oil palm, cola nut and coffee are grown, property rights in trees have acquired an independent status from that of ownership rights in land, since anyone permitted to plant tree crops is allowed to harvest the product throughout the life of the tree (Parsons, 1970). Thus, "strangers" are not allowed to plant tree crops without explicit consent. The planted trees can be pledged to secure a loan and there have been instances in which trees (especially cocoa) have been sold (Fabiyi and Adegboye, 1977). However, a stranger who is permitted to grow crops (again, especially cocoa) is expected to make an annual tribute payment (Isakole) to the landowners in recognition of the rights of the owners. The amount paid depends on the personal relationship with, and the mood of, the landowners.

Intensification technologies and changing property rights status

In an attempt to improve land quality and integrate crops and livestock more effectively under the changing property rights systems, various intensification technologies have been adopted and used by farm operators (Matlon, 1989; IITA, 1992; Nwosu, 1995; IFPRI, 1995). These include alley farming, tree planting and the application of organic manure and inorganic fertilizer. Fertilizer helps maintain and enhance soil fertility and thereby sustains crop production. Okorie (1984), Ogunfowora (1993), Adebayo (1997) and Awe (1997) assert that inorganic fertilizer is agronomically the most important land improvement input for increasing crop yields and accounts for more than 80 percent of the total farm input use in Nigeria. Given the current worldwide concern for increased agricultural production in the face of continuous land degradation, it is important to examine the economic effect of changing property rights on farm operators' use of inorganic fertilizer as an intensification technology.

This is necessary because the development and adoption of technologies appropriate to farmers' conditions would considerably increase farmers' productivity and income levels, increase aggregate production and help maintain the potential of the land resource base. This article therefore evaluates the effect of property rights regimes on farmers' income levels among fertilizer-using respondents in two ecologies of southwest Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives are to: a) examine land tenure factors affecting fertilizer use in the study area, b) compare the costs and returns of fertilizer use by property rights regimes in the two agroclimatic zones and c) derive policy implications from the study. The main hypothesis is that there is no significant difference in the net benefits derived by tenure status on fertilizer use in the agro-ecological zones.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The study was conducted in two main ecologies, rain forest and derived savannah, in Osun State of Nigeria. Data were collected from 300 respondents using a structured survey questionnaire and focused group discussions (FGDs). Secondary data were also obtained from the state's Ministry of Agriculture. Information sought included farmers' socio-economic characteristics (literacy level, age and gender) and property rights factors (security of tenure and duration of fallow). Information on farm inputs and outputs on farmers' maize plots were also obtained. A multistage sampling technique was employed in selecting respondents for the study. The two main agroclimatic zones in the state were distinguished using a geographical map of the area. Ten local government areas (LGAs) were then purposively selected on the basis of the extent of their soil degradation problems. Five villages and between 3 and 11 respondents were then randomly selected in each village. The actual field survey lasted four months, from August to November 1997. The data were analysed using descriptive statistics and a partial budget approach to costs and returns analysis in order to achieve the study objectives.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

A larger proportion of respondents in the study area acquired their farmland through primary access. Primary access to farmland comprises purchase and inheritance, while secondary access includes gift, borrowing, pledging, leasing and clearing of unallocated land (Table 1).

TABLE 1
Property rights regimes and land acquisition pattern

 

Primary access

Secondary access

Purchase

Inheritance

Gift

Borrow

Pledge

Lease

Unauthorized land

Rain forest

Users

12

91

02

06

0

05

-

Non-users

07

05

05

14

1

12

-

Derived savannah

Users

14

79

01

02

0

01

-

Non-users

02

23

02

10

0

03

3

Overall

Users

26

170

03

08

0

06

-

Non-users

09

28

07

24

01

15

3

Source: Field survey, 1998.

A large proportion of the fertilizer-using respondents in both agroclimatic zones perceived their farmland to be adequately secure. The survey questionnaire and FGDs, however, revealed that the quantity of inorganic fertilizer used by farmers in the study area was not adequate, being about three times short of the recommended dosage of 300-400 kg/ha-1 (OSSADEP, 1996). The results may therefore not reveal the full economic benefits that can be derived by the farmers from inorganic fertilizer use in the agroclimatic zones and property rights regimes surveyed. Nonetheless, it is pertinent to note that while the use of fertilizer enhanced farm income levels, its excessive use can have adverse environmental consequences and possibly lead to negative net returns arising from low crop yields (Awe, 1997).

Farmlands were intensively used for 13 years. This has implications for the need for soil improvement techniques and the adoption of yield-increasing technologies in order to ensure continuous farm production over time.

When respondents' annual net incomes were categorized according to farm size in order to test for scale effects, it was found that fertilizer users earned higher mean net income than non-users in the two agroclimatic zones as farm size increased and for every category of farm size (Table 2).

TABLE 2
Respondents' mean net income per annum according to farm size

 

Net farm income (N1)

Net farm income (N1 )

Derived savannah zone

Farm size (ha)

Users

Non-users

Users

Non-users

0.01-0.50

10 944

9 178

11 114

5 990

0.51-1.00

27 955

19 379

27 490

16 352

1.01-1.50

41 947

33 258

51 593

27 010

1.51-2.00

88 676

-

93 330

52 288

Above 2.00

-

-

-

58 675

1 N = naira.
Source: Field survey, 1998.

However, higher marginal increases were obtained for the net income earned by users and non-users of the technology in the savannah zone. Although farmers' tenure status is related to several other variables that may affect income earned from a particular field, these estimates provide an insight into the relationship between property rights status and farmers' income levels with respect to fertilizer use. Historically, the evolution of individual land rights and enforcement mechanisms to protect such rights followed increases in the density of the rural population relative to land availability. Consequently, the pressure for shorter fallow periods brought investment in land improvement to retain soil fertility and in capital to expedite land preparation and to increase land productivity and farm income levels. According to FAO (1975, 1997a) and Feder et al. (1987), ownership security affects both investment incentives and the availability of resources to finance investment. Under insecure tenure, a farmer is tempted to exhaust the soil in order to reduce production costs, while the landlord and the community bear the final costs. Thus, the incentive to undertake land improvement investments to retain soil fertility and increase land productivity and farm income levels may be based in part on secured future access to the land. Farmers whose property rights regime was purchase or "divided" inheritance earned higher mean net incomes than those with secondary access or "undivided" inheritance (Table 3).

This finding implies that security of tenure affects farm income levels. Moreover, the results show that farmers in the study area could be encouraged to use fertilizer if the current land-use pattern persists, as it is capable of enhancing yield and income levels while improving land quality.

TABLE 3
Respondents' mean net income (N)1 per annum according to property rights regime

Property rights regime

Agroclimatic zone

Rain forest

Derived savannah

Users

Non-users

Users

Non-users

Purchased

16 950

9 650

18 350

12 820

Divided inheritance2

14 800

6 180

15 140

10 900

Undivided inheritance3

6 370

3 520

9 262

5 770

Secondary access

4 260

1 255

3 130

2 575

Total

42 380

20 605

45 880

32 065

1 N = naira.
2 Refers to farmers who have inherited full rights to the land.
3 Refers to land inherited by the farmer with some extended family control.
Source: Field survey, 1998.

CONCLUSION

With increasing pressure on land use as a result of population growth, the inheritance rules accompanying customary tenure allow for fragmentation of farm plots with a more intensive use of the land for agricultural practice. Depletion of soil fertility and reduced production levels invariably result. Thus, as farmland becomes increasingly overused, the traditional practice of leaving land fallow to maintain fertility is eroded and the use of inorganic fertilizer and other intensification technologies must therefore assume greater significance in the future in order to respond to intensification pressures and to meet the consequent increasing demand for food.

In view of the inadequate quantity of fertilizer currently used by farmers in the study area, as well as the variations existing in the annual net benefits obtained for each agroclimatic zone and property rights status, there is considerable potential for increasing fertilizer use in the study area without having adverse consequences. Farmers therefore need be trained in the appropriate agronomic requirements and application of these technologies in order to prevent negative socio-economic and environmental consequences that may result from its inappropriate use. Variations in net income and yield levels between the rain forest and derived savannah zones also strengthen the need for targeting the scarce supply of fertilizer to areas of high-use potential. Future research efforts should investigate further how property rights regimes could enhance farm returns from alternative technologies vis-à-vis fertilizer and aim to establish an adequate combination of technologies that would improve land quality and facilitate improved farm production.

REFERENCES

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