Economic aspects of Grasscutter Farming in Southwest Nigeria: Implications for Sustainable Adoption and Conservation


*Adedapo Ayo Aiyeloja1 and Adekunle Anthony Ogunjinmi2


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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R

1 INTRODUCTION

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].


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Akure, Nigeria. E-mail:seak1402@gmail.com


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].


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This is a crucial point for the development of grasscutter farm- ing 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.


2 MATERIALS AND METHODS

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].

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 in the three states, thus, 20% of the farms were selected in each of the States. Analyses of data were through descriptive statistics, and mul- tiple regression. Rate of return on investment for the enter- prise was also determined. In order to determine if the profits made from grasscutter farming are able to lift the farmers above the poverty lines, analysis using the Student’s t Distri- bution was carried out. In order to determine whether the cost exceeds benefits from grasscutter farming, cost benefit analy- sis was also carried out. Since enterprise costs and benefits occurred over a period of time, direct comparison is not ap- propriate. This is because value is intimately associated with time [29]. Therefore, an adjustment factor (discount rate) also referred to as interest rate is applied. The Central Bank of Ni- geria pegged interest rate on agricultural loans at 14 percent since March, 2006 [30]. Therefore, 14 percent discount rate was used in the analysis.


  1. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

    The demographic Characteristics of the selected grasscutter farmers are presented in Table I. All the farmers were male (100%), majority were in the age range of 26-50 years (83.3%). This indicates that they are in their active age. Majority had tertiary education (76.7%) while large percentage was teachers and civil servants respectively (23.3%), and crop (16.7%), and poultry farmers (10.0%). Higher level of education is needed in grasscutter farming; this is because it requires high tech- nical knowledge and skills to be successful in its domestica- tion. In addition, Grasscutter farming is adopted as a second- ary occupation.

    TABLE I

    DEMOGRAPHIC CHARACTERISTICS OF THE GRASSCUT-


    TABLE II

    FARMING AND PRODUCTION CHARACTERISTICS OF

    Variable

    Frequency

    %

    Experience (In

    Years)

    1-5

    19

    63.3

    6-10

    7

    23.3

    11-15

    2

    6.7

    16-20

    2

    6.7

    No of Workers

    Full-Time

    45

    60.8

    Part-Time

    29

    39.2

    Amount Invested

    (In Naira)

    1000-50000

    19

    63.3

    60000-100000

    3

    10.0

    110000-150000

    5

    16.7

    160000-200000

    1

    3.3

    >200000

    2

    6.7

    Source of Capital

    Personal savings

    23

    76.7

    Loan from Coopera-

    tive

    5

    16.7

    Friends and family

    2

    6.6

    Land Acquisition

    Inheritance

    4

    13.3

    Tenancy

    15

    50.0

    Leasehold

    1

    3.3

    Purchase

    8

    26.7

    Institutional Land

    2

    6.7

    TER FARMERS (N=30) GRASSCUTTER FARMERS

    Variable

    Frequency

    %

    Gender

    Male

    30

    100

    Age

    1-25

    4

    13.3

    26-50

    25

    83.3

    >50

    1

    3.3

    Marital Status

    Single

    7

    23.3

    Married

    23

    76.7

    Education

    Primary

    4

    13.3

    Secondary

    3

    10.0

    Tertiary

    23

    76.7

    Primary Occupa-

    tion

    Lecturing

    2

    6.7

    Teaching

    7

    23.3

    Civil Servant

    7

    23.3

    Trading

    2

    6.7

    Medical Practi-

    tioner

    1

    3.3

    Construction

    worker

    1

    3.3

    Crop Farming

    5

    16.7

    Poultry Farming

    3

    10.0

    Pig Farming

    1

    3.3

    Applicant

    1

    3.3


    Table II presents the farming and production characteristics of grasscutter farmers. In terms of experience, majority (63.3%) of the selected farmers had relatively few years of experience in grasscutter farming. This might not be unconnected to the fact that domestication of grasscutter in Nigeria is relatively new, spanning few decades. In addition, the 30 farmers had 74 workers with 60.8% of the workers constituting full-time and 39.2% as part time workers. This is also an indication that grasscutter farming is becoming a source of employment for the people. Furthermore, 63.3% of the farmers invested be- tween N1000 (US$6.2) and N50000 (US$3086.4), this might have resulted from the scale of the farms involved. More than 76% of the farmers’ source of income was personal savings. This is not surprising since farmers tend to avoid obtaining loans from commercial banks due to high interest rates being charged (this might range from 14%-25%). The source of land acquisition by the large number of the farmers was through tenancy (50.0%). This is in contrast from various studies that indicated that land acquisition in Nigeria is through inher- itance [31].

    A family of grasscutter consists of a male and four females. According to the majority of the farmers, the cost of producing a family in three months was between N17000 (US$104.9) and N18000 (US$111.1), N20000 (US$123.5) and N21000 (US$129.6)

    in six months, and N26000 (US$160.5) and N30000 (US$185.2) in nine months. This is an indication that grasscutter farming requires high capital outlay for production. In addition, major- ity of the farmers (60.0%) sold a family of 3 months old grasscutters for N28000 (US$172.8), between N30000 (US$185.2) and N31000 (US$191.4) for a 6 months old family and between N35000 (US$216) and N37000 (US$228.4) for a 9 months old family of grasscutters. However, a matured grasscutter was sold for between N3000 (US$18.5) and N5000 (US$30.9). This is an indication that grasscutter farming is profitable (Table III).


    Table III

    image

    Variable

    Frequency

    %

    Cost of Production/Family

    (In Naira)

    3 Months Old

    15000-16000

    10

    33.3

    17000-18000

    20

    66.7

    Six Months Old

    18000-19500

    9

    30

    20000-21000

    17

    56.7

    >21000

    4

    13.3

    9 Months Old

    20000-24000

    14

    46.7

    26000-30000

    16

    53.3

    Matured Grasscutter/Month

    1200-2700

    20

    66.7

    2500-2700

    4

    13.3

    2800-2900

    6

    20.0

    Selling Price/Family (In

    Naira)

    3 Months Old

    26000-27500

    12

    40.0

    28000

    18

    60.0

    6 Months Old

    28000-29500

    7

    23.3

    30000-31000

    22

    73.3

    >31000

    1

    3.3

    9 Months Old

    30000-34000

    2

    6.7

    35000-37000

    28

    93.3

    COST AND RETURNS FROM INVESTMENT IN GRASSCUTTER FARMING

    may not be profitable, although, they may command higher prices in the cities, which can make the investment to be at- tractive.

    image

    From the cost benefit analysis (CBA), Osun State had the highest cost benefit ratio (CBR) of 3.64 while Ondo State had the least (1.77). When the three States were grouped, they had

    1.97 as their cost benefit ratio (Table V). These are indications that grasscutter farming is economically viable since none of the ratios was below 1. For rate of return on investment (RORI), Osun state also had the highest rate of return on in- vestment from year 2003 to 2005 while Ondo State had the least. The trend in the rate of return on investment shows that Oyo State had the highest trend (R2=0.9934) while Ondo State had the least (R2=0.7135) (Fig1-3). This underscores that the enterprise is young and is undergoing development. The profitability of the enterprise (grasscutter farming) considered across the three states was significantly affected by the demo- graphic characteristics of the entrepreneurs (Table VI).


    TABLE IV

    PROFITABILITY OF GRASSCUTTER FARMING IN ONDO,

    State

    Standard Devia- tion

    Mean Annual Profit

    (N)

    Poverty Line($1/Day) 6 People/Yr.

    (N)

    Poverty Line($2/Day) 6 People/Yr

    (N)

    Ondo

    98186.4

    309583.3

    291270

    582540

    Osun

    7267.8

    43166.7

    291270

    582540

    Oyo

    132032.7

    509642

    291270

    582540

    Acros

    s the

    states

    44402.8

    287464

    291270

    582540

    Student’s t Distri-

    bution

    ($1/Day)

    Student’s t Distri-

    bution

    ($2/Day)

    Ondo

    0.19

    -2.78

    Osun

    -34.14

    -

    74.21

    Oyo

    1.65

    -0.55

    Acros

    s the states

    -0.09

    -6.65

    OSUN AND OYO STATES


    The study showed that Oyo State had the highest mean an- nual profitability from the enterprise among the three states considered with N509,642 (US$3145.9) while Ondo State had the least with N309,583.30 (US$1911). With poverty line of

    image

    image

    image

    State

    Cost/ Benefit Ratio

    RORI (%) 2003 2004 2005

    Ondo

    1.77

    67.25 74.04

    78.06

    Osun

    3.64

    159.26 233.33

    331.82

    Oyo

    2.09

    30.43 89.73

    134.33


    Across the States

    1.97

    49.52 88.44

    106.81

    $1/day for 6 people/year at N291,270 (US$1798); the enter- prise in each of the three States was above poverty line. How- ever, when the 3 States were grouped together, the mean an- nual profitability was N287,464 (US$1774.5) which was below the poverty line of N291,270 (US$1798) of $1/day for 6 peo- ple/year. Also, if the poverty line of $2/day for 6 people (N582,540, US$3595.9) is considered, then, the enterprise was below poverty line (Table IV). This might be due to high capi- tal involved in the establishment of grasscutter farm. Heavy financial investment is required in the procurement of founda- tion stocks, housing, and establishment of feed farms. This might make the enterprise not profitable to the farmers. Con- sidering the cost of acquisition of a family (one male, four fe- males) at N6000.00 per animal, and the selling price of be- tween N1500 (US$9.3) and N3500 (US$21.6) when culled or to be sold in the rural area, investment in grasscutter farming


    TABLE V

    ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF GRASSCUTTER FARMING IN

    ONDO, OSUN, AND OYO STATES

    image

    R

    50


    0

    2002 2003 2004 2005

    International Journal of Scientific & Engineering Research, Volume 4, Issue 10, October -2013

    ISSN 2229-5518

    Year 21

    Fig. 3: Trend in Grasscutter Farming (RORI) in Oyo State


    TABLE VI

    EFFECT OF DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS ON PROFITABILITY

    OF ENTERPRISES INVESTIGATED ACROSS THE STATES

    Functional Form (Model)

    image

    F-Value


  2. IMPLICATIONS FOR SUSTAINABLE ADOPTION AND

    CONSERVATION

    Domestication of grasscutter serves conservation purpose and


    Enter- prises

    line- ar

    semi log

    Exponen- tial

    dou- ble log

    image

    the continued and sustainable adoption of the technology is

    paramount to the conservation of the wild populations. Like

    farming of most wildlife species, grasscutter domestication

    image

    and rearing require substantial investments of time and mon-

    Cane rat

    Farming

    3.34* 2.82 5.61* 3.69*

    image

    ey [32, 33]. The cost of even small-scale wildlife farming may still be significant for the poor, remote, or landless people of- ten envisioned as wildlife farmers [34, 35, 36, 37]. Most sys-

    * = significant at p = 0.05


    100 R

    2

    = 0.7135

    80

    60

    40

    ENTERPRISE

    20

    0

    2002

    2003

    2004

    2005

    y = 24.097x - 48199


    RORI (%)

    image


    Year


    Fig. 1: Trend in Grasscutter Farming (RORI) in Ondo State


    image

    y = 106.95x - 213992 400

    tems of keeping wildlife in captivity require an initial capital investment in infrastructure to hold animals-wire fencing, concrete, or cage materials may be prohibitively expensive for farmers [37]. This high capital involvement in wildlife farming may make adoption to be less attractive. One issue of long- standing discussion and debate has been the relative im- portance of economic factors as drivers of adoption.

    There are several important influences on adoption, and economic benefit (broadly defined) is one of them [38]. Econ- omists typically assume that decision to adopt a specific farm- ing practice is based on profit-maximizing behaviour [39]. It has been observed that profit expectations are an important influence on investment plans (and thus on adoption deci- sions). Lack of financial viability would be expected to inhibit adoption of innovations by reducing the capacity to adopt, rather than the benefits of adopting [40]. In addition, it has also been found that short-term expectations about variables related to profitability influenced the adoption of conservation practices [41]. It has been indicated that actual and perceived

    RORI (%)

    350

    300

    250

    200

    150

    100

    50

    0

    R2 = 0.974


    ENTERPRISE

    returns from a particular ‘conservation’ practice is one of the

    factors affecting the adoption and continuing use of sustaina-

    ble agricultural practices [42]. Also, wildlife farming is only

    likely to be widely embraced, therefore, if production costs and efforts are lower than hunting [37, 43]. To be economically attractive, wildlife farming would have to offer returns per unit investment equivalent to rearing domestic species [32].

    200 200 200 200

    Year

    Fig. 2: Trend in Grasscutter Farming (RORI) in Osun State

    However, returns from wildlife farming are long-term, some- times requiring several years of investment before significant returns are forthcoming. Widespread adoption of grasscutters farming may be substantially affected if profitability from the investment on the enterprise is low.

    Various factors were also identified in the literature re- garding adoption of sustainable technologies. Major con- straints to adoption identified were little or no financial bene- fit and associated financial factors, and complexity of technol- ogy considered [44]. Innovations will not be adopted if the farmer perceives them to be too risky financially, too complex, and to not fit with the farmer's situation or available resources [44]. The importance of profit as one of the drivers for most farmers has strong implications for conservation practices [38]. Among those farmers with a focus on profit, the farm-level economics of a proposed conservation practice will be im- portant. Those conservation practices that are not profitable at the farm level will tend to be adopted only by farmers with stronger conservation goals. The lower the perceived profita-

    bility, the stronger the conservation goals need to be for adop- tion to occur. Unprofitable conservation practices are likely to be more widely adopted if they are able to generate conserva- tion benefits when adopted at a small scale.


  3. CONCLUSION

The analysis of grasscutter farming in Southwest Nigeria clearly shows that although the adopter of the technology has a relatively few years of experience, the investment is worth- while and profitable, and serves as a source of employment for a considerable number of people. The enterprise however re- quires large capital outlay, which may not be within the reach of large number of the rural communities, particularly the support zone communities of Nigeria’s protected areas who are the main target of this technology thus reducing its poten- tial for adoption. It should also be noted that grasscutter farm- ing as an enterprise in Nigeria is relatively young and as such, profitability and its poverty alleviation potentials may take several years of investment to materialize.


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