Author Topic: Economic aspects of Grasscutter Farming in Southwest Nigeria: Implications for S  (Read 3410 times)

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Author : Adedapo Ayo Aiyeloja and Adekunle Anthony Ogunjinmi
International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research Volume 4, Issue 10, October-2013
ISSN 2229-5518
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Abstract— Economic aspects of grasscutter farming and their implications for sustainable adoption and conservation were studied in Ondo, Osun and Oyo States, southwest Nigeria. Data were collected through questionnaire administration from 4 Local Government Areas in Ondo and Osun States while they were collected in 5 Local Government Areas in Oyo State where grasscutter farming has been adopted. Thirty grasscutter farms were randomly selected from 150 farms in the three states, thus, 20% of the farms were selected. Data were on demographics of the grasscutters’ farmers, amount invested and income generated from 2003 to 2005. Analyses of data were through descriptive statistics, student’s t-distribution, multiple regression and cost benefit analysis. Rate of return on investment and its trends for the enterprise were also determined. The results indicated that the enterprise was below poverty line in each of the three states. Osun State had the highest cost benefit ratio with 3.64 while Ondo State had the least with 1.77. Also, Osun State had the highest rate of return on investment while Ondo State had the least. The trend in the rate of return on investment showed that Oyo State had the highest with R2 of 0.9934, while Ondo State had the least with R2 of 0.7135. The study concluded that grasscutter farming is relatively young and as such profitability and its poverty alleviation potentials may take several years of investment to materialize.

Index Terms— Economic, grasscutter farming, poverty line, sustainable adoption, conservation.

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URAL communities in many parts of Africa, Asia, central Europe and the Americas are increasingly concerned about losing self-sufficiency as their local wild popula-tions of animals used for bushmeat dwindles because the wildlife biomass of tropical forests is generally low [1]. Wild-life hunting may be sustained but only where human popula-tion densities are low [2]. It has been suggested that for people depending exclusively on wild meat, hunting may not be sus-tainable if human population densities are greater than 1 or 2 person/km2 [3]. Unrestricted access to valued but vulnerable species may provide a high initial harvest, but this will merely be a temporary “bonanza” followed by loss of local self-sufficiency and higher effort or prices to get the species else-where [1].
The shortage of animal protein in the third world countries can be ameliorated by improving the existing conservation programme of wildlife particularly the domestication of ro-dents that are tractable, prolific, and widely accepted to the public for consumption [4]. Captive breeding of game species as a possible way to satisfy local demand without compromis-ing the wild stock has also been recommended by several au-thors [5, 6, 7, 8].
This has obvious attractions where bushmeat fetches a high price [9], and logically, it could lead to reduced demand for wild caught specimens [8]. Again, captive rearing of rodents and enclosures might augment the bushmeat supply from the wild [10]. Grasscutter or canerat has been suggested as one of the minilivestock having potential for domestication. Grasscutter rearing has been stated to have health related ad-vantages including better nutrition from consumption of meat [11]. There is also strong evidence that local diets in some parts of Africa frequently include non-conventional livestock such as canerats that make significant contributions to the nu-tritional well-being of marginal households [12, 13].
Economic viability of grasscutter farms depends on the so-cio-economic context of the farm. If the farm is placed near urban centers where bushmeat prices and demand are high, a middle-sized cane rat farm can certainly be profitable [14]. In Libreville, Gabon’s capital city, for example, wild cane rat meat is sold at 2.8 US$ /kg (1 US$= 695 FCFA) but farmed animals are sold at 5 US$/Kg without any difficulty [14]. A World Bank study showed that small-scale cane rat farming with a yearly stock of 260 animals (40 reproductive females) was the most profitable system of animal exploitation in Ghana, followed by poultry and rabbit farming [15].
A farm of this size could easily reach a profitability threshold of between 350 and 400 US$ /year with the sale of 14 to 20 animals for meat at 5 US$/Kg [14]. Several authors in different African countries seem to agree that a small-scale farm of 40 reproductive does is the most profitable scale of production for that species and that well managed cane rat farms can substantially contribute to local economies and pro-duce enough profit to make a living [16, 17]. It has been noted that grasscutter breeders generally earn two (2) times more than what they invested in the grasscutter husbandry [18]. This is a crucial point for the development of grasscutter farming in Africa that deserves further analysis or investigation [14]. Generally speaking, canerat farming profits are variable depending on the country and the area where the farm is based and show better prospects of economic success in peri-urban areas where demand for bushmeat is higher, transport costs are limited and game is sold at high prices. In rural areas, hunting management of wild canerats certainly shows more promise than farming since these rodents are abundant, and their capture reduces predation on and damages to feeding crops. Moreover, prices in rural areas are at least two times lower than those paid in urban centres [19] and spending money in producing animals that are abundant in the wild seems unrealistic, unless hunting is prohibited and respect of the law can be guaranteed [14]. Studies indicate that grasscut-ter farming possesses environmental related advantages such as reduction in poaching and bushfires [11]. It also reduced bushfires caused by poachers [11, 20, 21].
There is a large body of literatures on grasscutter domesti-cation, especially in the last twenty years and some enterpris-es specialized in its rearing are already in existence in Nigeria and other parts of West Africa. In the savanna area of West Africa, people have traditionally captured wild grasscutters and raised them at home. As an extension of this, organized grasscutter husbandry has been initiated. Many researchers have reported the potential inherent in domesticated grasscut-ter in West Africa [22, 23, 24, 25] and reported various degrees of successful domestication of grasscutter in Ghana, Benin and Nigeria. It has also been reported that grasscutter contributes to both local and export earnings of countries like Kenya, Be-nin Republic and Nigeria [26]. Its meat, said to resemble suck-ling pig, often sells for more per kilogram than chicken, beef, pork or lamb. It is the preferred, and perhaps most expensive meat in West Africa. Indeed, in Ivory Coast it sells for about U$9 per kilogram [27]. With prices like that, grasscutter is cul-inary luxury that only the wealthy can afford. If domestication of this wild species is successful in providing meat at a price similar to that of poultry, markets would be unlimited. In an effort to capitalize on the markets for this delicacy, agricultur-al extension services of Cameroon, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nige-ria and Togo and particularly Benin are already encouraging farmers to rear grasscutter as backyard livestock. The need to evaluate the profitability and economic viability of grasscutter farming as well as the implications for sustainable and contin-ued adoption of the technology and conservation justifies the present study.

The study areas-Ondo, Osun and Oyo States are in Southwest of Nigeria. Ondo State lies between latitudes 50 451 and 60 051E. It is bounded on the east by Edo State and Delta States, on the north by Ekiti and Kogi States and to the south by the Bight of Benin and the Atlantic Ocean. Osun State covers an area of approximately 14,875 square kilometers, lies between longi-tude 040 331E and latitude 070 281N, and is bounded by Ogun, Kwara, Oyo, and Ondo States in the South, North, West, and East respectively. Oyo State also lies between latitude 070 001N and longitude 030 001E. Oyo State is bounded by the States of Kwara on the north, Osun on the east, Ogun on the south and by Republic of Benin on the west.
The climate of southwest Nigeria is tropical in nature and it is characterized by wet and dry seasons. The temperature ranges between 210C and 340C while the annual rainfall ranges between 1250mm and 3000mm. The wet season is associated with the southwest monsoon winds from the Atlantic Ocean while the dry season is associated with the northeast trade winds from the Sahara desert. The vegetation of southwest Nigeria is made up of freshwater swamp and mangrove forest at the coastal belt, the lowland rainforest stretches to Ogun and parts of Ondo State while secondary forest is towards the northern boundary where derived and southern Guinea sa-vanna exist [28].

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