Background of the study
Many farmers in Enugu State engage in rice production with the aim of enhancing their income and living standard. Rice is scientifically known as Oryza Sativa. Rice in the view of Tsado, (2000) is one of the world’s most important annual cereal crops, belonging to the family of Graminae, widely cultivated in almost every part of the world. The plant has fibrous roots, tillers, leaves with sheath base, well defined midrib and small flowers. The mature grain is elongated and enclosed in husk. Rice is the most important staple food for a large part of the world’s human population. There are many varieties of rice grown in Nigeria including Enugu State. Some of these varieties are considered local varieties, the local varieties of rice are named according to the places they are produced-Abakaliki rice, Uzouwani rice, Afikpo mass, while others were introduced from other countries like Asia. Rice is grown in paddies or on upland fields, depending on the requirements of the particular variety. Rice is the most important grain with regard to human nutrition and caloric intake, providing more than one fifth of the calories consumed by people worldwide. Fine and soft rice straw obtained after harvesting serves as one of the raw material for industries that produce shoes, hats and mattresses. Laundry starch is manufactured from the broken rice grains. Rice bran and chopped straw are equally use for feeding livestock. Rice is grown for home consumption and for sale. United States Development of Agriculture (USDA), (2008) explained that rice production is well-suited to countries and regions with low labour cost and high rainfall as it requires labour intensive to produce and requires ample rainfall.
Rice is one of the staple food crops grown by farmers in Enugu state. It gives high yield under good management, and provides job opportunities to growers (farmers) which serve as one of the sources of their income to meet up their needs. Rice production has many enterprises.
Enterprises according to Christensen and Thompson (1995) are establishment that has overlapping objectives which the implementers set out to achieve in order to make profit. Dumas (1999) stated that enterprise is a business that consists of one or several establishment and operates at one or more locations. In the context of this study, enterprise refers to rice business which involves nursery practices, field managements, harvesting and processing in addition to marketing which are carried out in different locations or places. Each of these aspects of the rice enterprise has certain objectives which the farmers tend to achieve with the aim of making profit. That is a farmer could engage in nursery enterprise with the aim of selling the seedlings to another farmer or he could engage in field management of rice through purchasing the seedlings from the nursery farmer. A farmer could also carry out the whole enterprises in rice production (nursery-harvesting and processing) where necessary, while others could engage in marketing of rice grains. This means that a farmer that engaged in any of the rice production enterprises like nursery practices, field management, harvesting and processing or marketing of rice is expected to make profit. Each of these enterprises can therefore be a source of employment to the farmer.
Employment in the view of Robert, (1991) is an activity that produces something of value for the people. Merriam, (2006) defined employment as the state of an individual having a job. In this study employment is an activity which an individual engages in order to earn a living. It therefore means that rice production is a business activity which can be undertaken by secondary school graduates.
Secondary school graduates as started in the national policy on education (FRN 2004) are those youths who have successfully completed six years of secondary school education. Secondary school graduates in the context of this study are youths that have completed six year programme in secondary school but have neither secure admission into higher institutions of learning nor gained employment in any business enterprise. These secondary school graduates can engage in rice production if they possess entrepreneurial skills.
Needed skills in the view of Nwokolo, (1993) are the ideas and management abilities necessary for personal self-reliance of individuals in the society. Skill according to Osinem and Nwoji (2005) is the ability to carry out an activity expertly. In Enugu State many farmers engage in rice production. Majority of these farmers are old, weak and they use traditional tools, and equipment in the production and processing of rice. There is inadequate supply of the product in the market while the demand is increasing due to population increase in the state. This therefore. results to high price for the product. The high price brings about the importation of rice from outside the state and country. The people of the state therefore purchase rice from Ebonyi state, Benue state, and other foreign countries with the aim of bridging the gap between supply and demand. The government of Enugu state observing this disequilibrium in supply and demand of rice in the state sent selected individuals (tertiary institution graduates) to Shangi to be trained in rice production including other crops and animals. On their return, the government sent them to Uzouwani with some money as loan to help them establish rice production enterprises. Despite the effort of the government of Enugu state to increase rice production through the trained individuals, the supply is still very low. According to Omeje (2012), there are many secondary school graduates in Enugu state who could neither gain admission into tertiary institution nor employment in private or government owned industries. These graduates roam the streets in the urban cities in search of white collar jobs which are not available. According to the author these graduates most survive. Lawal (2012) stated that secondary school graduates in Ondo state who could not gain admission into higher institutions try to engage in businesses like phone calls, okada riding while others who want quick money engage in illegal businesses. In the same vain some secondary school graduates in Enugu state who could not gain admission into tertiary institutions nor gain employment in any private or government establishment engage in petty trading, while others engage in illegal activities like kidnapping, armed robbery, stealing and pilfering. A visit to the security agent station revealed a high number of youths, some are secondary school graduates being interrogated for one crime or the other. Some engage in illegal jobs and activities like kidnapping, armed robbery and pilfering. some others like girls engage in phone call business, while boys with good conscience engage in okada or keke napep riding just to make ends meet. The parents of this secondary school graduates are not happy about the idleness of their children. This secondary school graduates are willing and ready to be employed in any meaningful legal occupation that could sustain them like rice production. If skills in rice production enterprises are identified and probably used in equipping them for rice production. These graduates could engage in rice production enterprises for self-employment, and there will be reduced crime in the state and in bridging the gap and in addition to bridging the gap between demand and supply of rice in the state. There is need therefore to identify skill needs of secondary school graduates for employment in rice production enterprises in Enugu state. There is a problem of rice scarcity in the state and those engaged in its production could not produce enough while there are many secondary school graduates in order to solve the existing problems.
Statement of the problem
Enugu state is endowed with a large expanse of land suitable for rice production, which requires comparatively small investment with high return. As a result of this endowment, farmers are engaged in various rice production enterprises. There is high demand for rice by growing population in the state which leads to purchase of rice from other states and countries. The reason is because most farmers are aged and weak for large scale production enterprises. The method of production is traditional in nature. Mohammed (2007) explained that farmers are provided with sufficient incentives such as new cultivars, fertilizers, insecticides and credit facilities to improve their production, but their old age and weakness limit the utilization of these incentives. Enugu state government observed the scarcity of rice products and become interested in increasing the supply of rice, to meet up the demand and to increase her fund generation in agriculture. The state therefore directed that teachers of agricultural sciences in secondary schools should teach the students the skills in rice production as one of the recommended crops to be studied by Enugu state students. This is to agree with what the Federal Republic of Nigeria (2004) states, that each state should teach two crops and two animals prevalent in that area. Teachers accepted the recommendation but through the interaction of the researcher with the teachers reviled that no practical work is carried out on rice production leading to production of graduates without skills in rice production. Many of these graduates are eager and willing to engage in any meaningful enterprise like rice production, especially when they are conversant with the skills. In view of the above this study tends to identify the skill needs of secondary school graduates for employment in rice production enterprises, with the aim of making them become competent.
Purpose of the study
The major purpose of this study is to identify skill needs of secondary school graduates for employment in rice production enterprises in Enugu State. Specifically, the study will identify the skill needs of secondary school graduates in
1. Planning for rice production.
2. Nursery practices in rice production.
3. Field management of rice production.
4. Processing of rice.
5. Harvesting of rice.
6. Marketing of rice.
Significance of the study
The study will be of great benefit to the government of Enugu State, teachers, students, parents and the general public. The study will provide information to teachers on skills in rice production. The skills identified by this study will form a training package for the teachers. The teachers could use the package to help to teach their students step-by-step skills in rice production.
The following research questions will guide the study
1. What are the skill needs of secondary school graduates in planning for rice production?
2. What are the skill needs of secondary school graduates in nursery practices of rice?
3. What are the skill needs of secondary school graduates in field management of rice?
4. What are the skill needs of secondary school graduates in processing of rice?
5. What are the skill needs of secondary school graduates in marketing of rice?
Ho1: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of teachers of agriculture and rice farmers on the skills needed in planning for rice production.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of teachers of agriculture and nursery farmers on the skills needed in nursery practices of rice.
Ho3: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of teachers of agriculture and rice farmers on the skills needed in the field management of rice.
HO4: There is no significant difference in the mean ratings of teachers of agriculture and rice processors in skills needed in processing of rice.
Ho5: Teachers of agriculture and rice marketers do not significantly differ in the skills needed in marketing of rice.
The Scope of the Study
The study would be restricted to the identification of skill needs of the secondary school graduates for employment in rice production enterprises in Enugu State. The study would cover areas of skills such as planning, nursery practices, field management, harvesting and processing and marketing skill needs of secondary school graduates for employment in rice production enterprises. The study will use structured questionnaire to obtain information from teachers of agriculture, rice nursery farmers, field management farmers, rice harvesters and processors and rice marketers in Enugu State.
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