PERCEPTION OF FARMERS IN RURAL NORTH-EASTERN NIGERIA ON A NEWLY INTRODUCED SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TECHNIQUE

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ABSTRACT

The world is at the verge of having a global crisis, with environmental degradation and malnourishment being two points of focus. Industrial agriculture, otherwise referred to as conventional agriculture, has led to ecological degradation globally. The use of heavy machinery, chemical fertilizers, heavy irrigation, and intensive tillage have had negative impacts on the environment and future generations. A solution in form of sustainable agriculture and its methods have the potential to replace conventional agriculture. Sustainable agriculture attempts to produce food in the same quantity as industrial agriculture, but while ensuring environmental, social, and economic factors are at equilibrium. The willingness of farmers to adopt such techniques, however, remains unclear. This study examined farmers’ perceptions and personal adoption of a newly introduced sustainable agriculture technique, permaculture, in a rural, semi-arid region of northeastern Nigeria. All respondents participated in a training program in permaculture in 2015. Perceptions were measured based on increase in crop yields and social benefits. Questionnaires (n = 34) were used to obtain data from respondents. Using descriptive statistics, multinomial logistic regression analyses, and crosstabulations, I found that 33 of the 34 respondents experienced an increase in their crop yields. While most respondents experienced social benefits, these benefits were more commonly reported among women. My findings suggest that rural farmers have a positive disposition toward sustainable agriculture and permaculture in particular.

Keywords: Conventional agriculture, crop yield, Nigeria, perceptions, permaculture, social benefit, sustainable agriculture


TABLE OF CONTENTS

ABSTRACT
INTRODUCTION
HYPOTHESES, AIMS, & OBJECTIVES

CHAPTER 2
METHODS
Study Site
Data Collection & Analysis
Ethical Guidelines

CHAPTER 3
RESULTS
Demographic Characteristics
Occupation and Crop Yield
Social Aspect

CHAPTER 4
DISCUSSION

CHAPTER 5
CONCLUSION
APPENDIX I
REFERENCES


CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

The word sustain originated from the Latin word sustinere, which means to maintain or to keep in existence (Gold, 2015). Sustainability is based on the philosophy that we are obligated to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising that of the future. A historical definition of agriculture states that it is a science which educates us on what crops are to be planted on a particular type of soil and what processes are involved in order to achieve high yields. Understanding the definition of these two terms results in a concept known as sustainable agriculture, it is an essential motion that is important for the future of farming and may protect the world’s food and crop system from degenerating. Sustainable agriculture can simply be elucidated as a process of producing crops in such a way that the economic, environmental and social aspects of farming are at equilibrium (Kopali 2013). It can also be defined as a philosophy based on human achievements and understanding the future impacts of our activities on the environment and other living organisms.



Various researchers have described sustainable agriculture, each description depends on the location and is different from one zone to the other, there is yet to be a finalized definition of sustainable agriculture (Kotile, 1998). Sustainable agriculture is often referred to as alternative farming, organic farming, ecological farming or regenerative farming (Lockeretz, 1988). Sustainable agriculture is the solution to problems that come along with farming in an ecological way (Lal, 2008). Unlike conventional agriculture which is driven by profit and productivity, sustainable agriculture is more concerned with the use of physical, ecological, chemical, economic and social aspects of agriculture to develop new farming methods that are safe and have no negative effect on the environment (Lichtfouse, 2009). It aims to maintain soil fertility, elude pollution, use of crop rotation and use of animals such as cows instead of machines (Trewaves, 2001). Malnourished children in underdeveloped nations, overweight children in developed nations, global warming, worldwide chemical pollutions which often result to dead zones, desertification and much more are obvious reasons that conventional agriculture is, in fact, detrimental to the Earth (Lal, 2008). Sustainable agriculture puts into consideration the medium and long term effects of agricultural practices on the agroecosystem. It endeavors to attain great yield and at the same time achieving ecological equilibrium to gain soil fertility and environmental hygiene. It takes a proactive approach instead of solving problems as they occur (FAO, 2016). A research on 17 states in the United States of America deduced that sustainable farmers mostly made use of cover crops, minimum tillage, crop rotation, and mowing as the major practices for weed control (Hanson, 1995).


There are many benefits of sustainable agriculture some of which might include: Increase in soil quality via soil building techniques such as cover crops, crop rotation, minimum or no tillage and use of organic manure such as compost. These practices improve soil structure and function which encourage soil’s fauna and flora. The soil has a better capacity to retain nutrients and water; energy and nutrient cycles are also increased. These practices also helps to control soil erosion by protecting it from erosive forces. Soil biodiversity increases and the loss of nutrients are reduced. Good soil tends to have an effect on, harvest, it increases yields and also creates healthier crops. Due to chemical fertilizers and pesticides, agricultural areas tend to pollute groundwater. Fertilizers used for conventional farming are made with....


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