RICE HUSK GENERATION AND UTILIZATION AMONG HOUSEHOLDS IN EBONYI STATE, NIGERIA
This study focused on rice husk generation and utilization among households in Ebonyi State, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to: describe the socio-economic characteristics of households in Ebonyi State; evaluate the perception of respondents on the effects of rice husk generation and utilization on the environment; estimate willingness to pay (WTP) for the removal of rice husk from the environment; determine the socio-economic factors influencing the respondents WTP for the removal of rice husk from the environment; determine the extent of rice husk generation and utilization in the study area; and identify the constraints to rice husk utilization among households in Ebonyi State. Hypothesis: Socio-economic characteristics of households do not significantly determine their willingness to pay for the removal of rice husk from the farmland. Purposive sampling technique was used to select rice production and rice milling areas while random sampling technique was used to select the respondents. Data were collected by the use of structured questionnaire. Data collected were analysed using mean score, contingency valuation method (CVM) – (tobit regression) and F-test. The result of the analysis showed that rice husk is generated in large quantities in the study area while rice husk utilization is still at rudimentary stage. Annual income, years of education, farm size, age and farming experience were positively related to households willingness to pay for the removal of rice husk from the farmland at 5% probability level while household size and distances of homes/farms from rice milling centers (RMCs) were inversely related to WTP with the pseudo R2 value of 77%. The mean WTP for the removal of rice husk from the environment was N960. The result from mean score used to identify the constraints to rice husk utilization indicated four major constraints to include: lack of awareness; cost of transportation; lack of environmental concern and insufficient information about proper use. Recommendation: Government should commercialize rice husk utilization since the findings showed that it was generated in high quantity in the study area to offer employment to people and at the same time solve the environmental problems created by uncoordinated disposal of rice husk that causes land air and water pollution and conserve the nation’s finite reserve of petroleum.