1.1 Background of the Study
Cocoa (Theobroma cacao) is one of the most import economic produce in Nigeria. This can be drawn out in terms of annual contribution to foreign exchange earnings, income earning, employment, internal revenue generation and as source of raw material for industry.
Nigeria is potentially one of the most economically endowed nation of the world, having abundant of resources e.g. coffee, rubber, oil palm, cocoa and other non crop product, such as petroleum.
In Nigeria, cocoa is a very important part of the cash crop family in the agricultural sector. Analysis shows that, in the 1980’s cocoa production in Nigeria was at its peak, Overtime, the output has fallen by over 50%. from 1980 to 2002 due to technical inefficiency of the agricultural sector. Tian and Guary (2000) in China has shown that there is room for increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries by improving technical efficiency of agricultural production. That every factors of production should be efficiently and effectively mobilized in cocoa production to reduce the gap between actual and potential output.
The major objective of stakeholders of cocoa produce in the state is to increase production on a sustainable basis at the farm level. Cocoa productivity levels can be enhance either by improving technical efficiency and or by improving technological application (Nkamleu et al, 2010). This aspect shows that proper farm maintenance through weeding and increased use of input like pesticides and fertilizer is considered to be the more effective way to increase production. This is because a greater part of cocoa produce is lost due to diseases, pests, and weeds (Binam et al , 2008; Dzene, 2010). Cocoa yields depends on how farmers combine their resources optimally to maximize output for cocoa produce and also optimize resource use in the industry, for cocoa to continue to play its key role in the economy.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
There has been a continuous problem in the production of cocoa over the years. As a result of the lack of application technical knowhow and other economic tools. As we know, at a point in the country economic history, agricultural production was of a major priority in Nigerian. But as time went by, there has been a gradual and small fall in the output overtime. Nigeria produces a little more than half of what she used to produce in the 1970’s (CBN 2004).
In order to increase and maintain a quality and quantity production of cocoa, there is a need to improve on technical efficiency and application aspect of economic principles to production, cut down over-regulation of the sector, provide effective marketing system and invest more on the sector. This works intends to answer the following questions: What are the challenges faced by cocoa farmers; and what method to adopt to improve on cocoa production.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to ascertain the technical efficiency of cocoa (Theobroma cacao) production in Esan West Local Government area of Edo state.
i. Examine the socio-economic characteristics of cocoa producers.
ii. Estimate the levels of technical efficiency in cocoa production.
iii. Examine the factors that influence the level of efficiency in cocoa production.
An interest in this study stems from the fact that cocoa production in Nigeria is reducing and Nigeria is experiencing difficulties meeting local demand for cocoa product.
This however, creates an opportunity for increased production. It therefore becomes necessary to offer information on this sub-sector of the agricultural sector in order to show the potentials of cocoa production and also to highlight the potential for boosting the Nigerian economy by concentrating on the cocoa production sector.
The study will provide the information needed for a successful cocoa enterprise which also would boost the confidence of the cocoa farmer and also could serve as guide for investors in the enterprise.