Title : Output and technical efficiency of smallholder rubber farmers under different tapping arrangements in Delta state, Nigeria
The study focused on the farmers’ productivity and technical efficiency of smallholder rubber farmers under different tapping arrangements in Delta State, Nigeria. The study was carried out in the Central Agricultural Zone of the state. A multistage sampling technique was adopted in the collection of data from 110 respondents. Primary data used were collected through a pre-tested structured questionnaire, and analysed using a combination of descriptive and inferential statistics. Identified tapping arrangements included sharecropping, renting/leasing and tapping by owners of plantations. . The results showed that the rubber farmers were literate and had mean age of about 36 years. Only 3.6% of the tappers owned plantations tapped, while others operated under sharecropping arrangement or leased/rented plantations; and tappers of different categories had, on the average, four years tapping experience. Average plantation size was 1.77 hectares. The mean age of rubber plantations in the area was 35 years. The mean annual output per hectare was found to be 873kg of dry rubber. Stochastic Production Frontier Analysis was used to estimate technical efficiency of the respondents. Point-Biserial effect size (r) of tapping arrangement on output and technical efficiency was also estimated. On average, sharecroppers/owner tappers’ output of 110.62 kg per hectare was significantly higher than renters’/leasees’ by about 21 % with a medium-sized effect of 0.37. However, the mean technical efficiency of sharecroppers/owner tappers’ (92.7%) was significantly higher than renters’/leasees’ by about 4 points with a small-sized effect of 0.16. Determinants of technical efficiency included nature of tapping arrangement, cooperative membership, and household size, amongst others. Thus, the study establishes the potential of the type of tapping arrangement to enhance productivity and technical efficiency of smallholding rubber farming. It is, therefore, recommended that the natural rubber farmers should engage more sharecroppers, and that government should encourage training of the tappers to enhance their tapping skills and productivity.
Key words: Smallholder, rubber tapping arrangements, output, technical efficiency, Nigeria