Abstract— Smallholder farmers are one of the most important stakeholders in Nigeria’s agrarian economy. This study examined the effect of socio-economic characteristic on maize farmers in Zing Local Government Area, Taraba State, Nigeria. This study adopted descriptive survey design and used primary and secondary data. Questionnaires were used to elicit information from the respondents. Five (5) wards were purposively selected out of ten (10) wards in the study area. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics. The findings of the study reveal that men are more involved in farming activities in the study area than women because of their ability to handle complex farming operations such as land preparation (clearing bushes and creating mounds and ridges). The study findings reveal that 33.73% of the respondents were in their prime age, between 20-30 years. As much as 63.86% of the respondents have small farm holdings between 3 to 5 hectares and 42.77% of the respondents acquire their farmlands through inheritance, 28.31% bought their farmlands, 19.28% rent their farmlands while 9.64% obtain their farmlands by lease. The study reveals that 34.64% of the respondent’s income ranges between ₦10,000 to ₦20,000. This income is very low, thereby forcing the local people to take to other alternative sources of livelihood such as commercial cyclist riding, carpentry, welding and petty trading. In terms of labour, 43.97% of the respondents use family labour exclusively in their farming operation, 27.11% used hired labour, 21.69 used mechanical power in form of tractor and 7.23% use animal draught in their farming operations. The poor socio-economic characteristics of the farmers contribute greatly to increasing decline in maize production in the study area which also translate to low income of the rural farmers. Based on the findings, the study recommended the need to assist the rural farmers to organize themselves into cooperatives and increase provision of up-to-date information and technology by extension workers to improve the skills of the rural farmers in modern agronomic practices.
Keywords— Maize farmers, Smallholder farmers, Socio-economic characteristics and Zing.
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