ECONOMIC ANALYSIS OF SOIL CONSERVATION PRACTICES AMONG CROP FARMERS IN ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
The broad objective of the study was to analyze the economics of soil conservation practices in Enugu State. This study employed multistage random sampling technique for selecting the respondents. First stage involved simple random selection of one local government area from each of the three (3) agricultural zones. Then three (3) farming communities were selected from each of the three selected local government areas. This gave a total of nine (9) communities for the study. Secondly, ten (10) farm households were randomly selected from each of the three farming communities, making a total of ninety (90) farm households. Well structured and pre-tested questionnaire, personal observation and focus group discussion were used for data collection. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistical, multinomial logit model, partial budget and a composite benefit- cost simulation model. The study showed that most of the farmers adopted more than one soil conservation practice. The conservation practices adopted most by the farmers included; animal and green manure application (100% and 85.55% respectively), cover crop planting (70%), construction of erosion control structures (57.77%), multiple cropping (45.55%) and reduced tillage (40%), incorporation of crop residues ( 26.66%), mulching ( 23.33%), crop rotation ( 21.11%), fallowing ( 14.44%), across slope-cultivation (12.22%), planting of perennial grass barriers (11.11%) and vegetation planting (8.88%s). Majority of the farmers were males (75.56%), the mean age of the farmers was forty six years, and about eighty seven percent (87%) of the farmers had a house hold size of six to ten persons. Majority of the farmers (725%) used family labour, and 53.35% of the farm land was individually owned by the farmers. An increase in farm size showed significant (P<0.05) increase in the application of green manure (z = 2.25) and crop rotation (z = 2.08). Similarly, increase in prhouse hold size showed a significant (P<0.05) increase in the construction of erosion control structures with a 2.54 magnitude of the z-value. An increase in farm size and sex showed a significant (P<0.05) increase in the use of crop rotation (z = 2.31 and 2.75 respectively). Sex also showed a significant (P<0.05) on the used of crop residues with a 1.96 magnitude of the z-value. A benefit cost analysis estimated the cost of soil conservation as N 1,462,300 and the benefit of soil conservation as N 3,246,800 with a net profit of N 1,784,500 and a net present value of N 37,167,285. High capital and labour demand (100%), insecure land tenure (98%), high risk and stability of practice (96.7%), poor policy support by government (95.6%), inadequate access to information and extension services (95.6%), poor returns to land, capital and labour (81.1%), perception and values of practices (51.1%) and perceived attributes of an innovation (35.6%), are some of the factors that limited the used of soil conservation practices by farmers in the study area. Granted that soil conservation practices are expensive, the benefits exceed the cost and it is the only option open to the farmers facing degraded farm lands. Owing to the fact that the farmers are poor and cannot meet up with the financial demands of soil conservation, the government should assist them in terms of financial subsidies and soft loans to enable them meet up with the financial challenges of soil conservation. Land ownership policies and property right information should be made available and accessible to the farmers, since most of the farmers are afraid on investing heavily on their family lands.