Assessment of Farm Labour Groups among Igala and Ebira Ethnic Groups in Kogi State, Nigeria
The study assessed farm labour groups in Igala and Ebira ethnic groups of Kogi State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study examined the characteristics of farmers’ labour groups in the two ethnic groups; ascertained the perceived benefits of farmers’ labour group; found out farmers’ level of awareness and use of farm labour laws; determined group potentials for farmer-to-farmer extension; assessed the effectiveness of farmers’ labour groups in carrying out farm and non-farm operations; and identified constraints to labour group formation and productivity. A total of 114 farm labour groups were randomly selected from the two ethnic groups (89 from Igala ethnic group and 25 from Ebira ethnic group). From each of the farmers’ labour groups, 3 members were randomly selected making a total of 342 respondents for the study. Structured interview schedule was administered to the selected farmers for data collection. Data collected were anaysed using percentage, mean score, standard deviation, student t-test, Chi-Square and factor analysis. Results showed that majority (92.2%) of members of farmers’ labour groups from both ethnic groups were males with mean age of 52.2 years. The overall results showed that most (60.5%) of these farmers had farm sizes between 1-4 hectares. Majority (48.2%) of farmers’ labour groups from both Igala and Ebira ethnic groups were formed before 1990, having a mean group size of 11 persons. Dearth of farm labour (86.3%); rural-urban migration (74.8%); and assisting one another and joint problem solving (44.7% respectively) were some of the major reasons for farmers’ labour group formation by farmers from both ethnic groups. While promotion of deep interpersonal relationships (M=3.84 SD=0.433); assisting indigent members in times of needs (M=3.37 SD=0.682) and increased in income (M=2.99 SD=0.815 were some of the benefits of farmers’ labour group. Migration of youth population (M= 2.74 SD=0.514); scarcity of farm labour (M=2.58 SD=0.547) and old age of some members (M=2.58 SD=0.623) were some of the constraints to farmers’ labour group formation and productivity. Farmers’ groups from both ethnic groups were aware of freedom of association act (M=3.34 SD=0.860) and child labour act (M=3.11 SD=860). While knowledge-sharing (M=2.86 SD=0.349); conflict resolution (M=2.45 SD=0.581) and problem-solving (M=2.48 SD=0.627) were the major farmer-to-farmer extension potentials developed by farmers’ labour groups from ethnic groups. Farmers’ labour groups were effective in the areas of expansion of farmlands, saving of costs of farm labour and bulk procurement of farm inputs for members. And the null hypotheses tested revealed that slight difference existed in the perception of benefits of farm labour groups (t=-2.134; P≤0.05) among Igala and Ebira ethnic groups; also great differences existed in the perceived constraints to farmers’ labour groups from the two ethnic groups. It was recommended that government and private institutions should intensify the process of urbanizing rural areas to stop the upsurge of rural-urban migration.