Economics of Smallholder Rubber Production under Different Tapping Arrangements in Delta State, Nigeria
The study examined the Economics of smallholder rubber production under different tapping arrangements in Delta State, Nigeria. The study was carried out in the Central Agricultural Zone of the State. A multistage sampling technique was adopted in the collection of data from 110 respondents. The survey instrument used was a pre-tested structured questionnaire. Both descriptive and inferential statistics and budgetary approach were used in the analysis of the data. The results showed that the rubber farmers were literate and had mean age of about 36 years. Only 3.6% of the tappers owned plantations tapped, while others operated under sharecropping arrangement or leased/rented plantations; and tappers of different categories had, on the average, four years tapping experience. Average plantation size was 1.77 hectares. The mean age of rubber plantations in the area was 35 years. The mean annual output per hectare was found to be 878.92kg of dry rubber (or 2,197.23kg of wet rubber). The mean net income of tappers from tapping per hectare was N288,557.73 per annum (or N9,6185.91 per tapping week of 3 days). The factors found to have significantly accounted for the 76 % variation of yield from the double-logarithmic function were age of tappers, tapping experience, age of plantations, variety planted and size of plantations (number of trees tapped for latex). The study also showed that rubber development was constrained by shortage of tappers, high cost of plantation establishment and long gestation period. The study recommended that unemployed youths should be encouraged to go into rubber tapping to reduce the shortage of tappers and that farmers should be given loans with some period of grace to address the problem of high cost of plantation establishment and the gestation period. Moreover, rubber farmers who lack tapping skills should adopt sharecropping tapping arrangement to ensure their holdings are tapped.
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