The adoption and sustained use of Integrated Aquaculture and Agriculture depends strongly on the perception of the farmers which in turn can be largely influenced by the socioeconomic attributes of the farmers. This study therefore examined the socioeconomic characteristics of fish farmers in relation to their perception and willingness to adopt integrated fish-rice and pig production system in south eastern Nigeria.
Abia and Imo States were purposely selected for the study because of the relative abundance of fish farmers in the two States. Primary data were collected through administration of questionnaires on fifty randomly selected fish farmers from the list of registered members of the fish farmers association in each of the states. Secondary data were also collected from published literature and internet. Data collected were analyzed with descriptive statistics and logit model.
Results show that 82.7% of the respondents were males, 41.9% were between 40 and 49 years of age, 83.3% were married, 91.5% were Christians, 89.8% were indigenes and 82.8% had tertiary education. Twenty nine percent had a household size of five, 10.1% engaged in farming as primary occupation, and 96.2% engaged in fish farming as secondary occupation. Furthermore, 29.1% had four years fish farming experience, 69.0% owned their land while 81.8% and 33.3% respectively received training before and after the establishment of the fish farms. Moreover, 60.3% of the fish farm workers were males, 50% possessed secondary education, while 50.9% were between 20 and 29 years of age. Personal savings accounted for 70.1% of funding of fish farms; 37.9% had concrete ponds, 51.1% was producing table size fish, 56% of the farmers were producing both fresh and smoked fish, 89.4% was producing Clarias garipienus, 44.2% of the farmers engaged in farm gate sales while 42.3% engaged in both farm gate sales and supplies to eateries. Though 78.4% of the farmers were aware of integrated fish farming, only 23.5% had practiced integrated fish farming. Also, 78.1% of the fish farmers agreed that integrated fish farming (IFF) utilizes natural resources efficiently, 79.7% subscribed that IFF ensures that wastes from each farming enterprise are appropriately utilized, 50% concurred that IFF minimizes cost of fish production, 61.1% agreed that IFF safeguards the environment from pollution through utilization of wastes, 75.9% also agreed that IFF provides other sources of income while 71.7% concurred that IFF ensures a spread of financial risk. Furthermore, 51.2% of the farmers were willing to adopt integrated fish cum rice and pig production.
Although the fish farmers in the study area are generally well disposed to the technology of integrated fish-rice-pig production system, the excitement for adoption of the technology is not so overwhelming. Therefore there is a need to put in place different platforms through which the merits of the technology will be explained and the fears of farmers on the perceived challenges of the technology will be allayed.
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