1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Agriculture provides primary means of employment for Nigerians, accounts for more than one-third of total gross domestic product (GDP), ensures food security, alleviate poverty and reduce labour force wastage (FAO, 2014; World Bank, 2014; Amaza and Maurice, 2005). The agricultural share of the GDP stood at about 90% before independence in 1960, decreased to 56% between 1960 – 1969 and collapsed to about 40% since 2013 (CBN, 2014). Furthermore, the contribution of agriculture to the GDP further declined to 35 percent between 2002 – 2004 (Amaza and Maurice, 2005). The decline in the contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP overtime is due to its dwindling relevance relative to other sectors of economy, especially the commercial exploration of petroleum (CBN, 2014). This condition leads to poor agricultural output in general and consequently, impoverishment of the people that are agriculture dependent. The search for sustainable forms of farming which will be complementary and also improves the biodiversity, therefore, becomes imperative. Beekeeping is an applied science of rearing honey bees for man's economic benefits, is also the mother source of honey production. The common African honeybee (Apis Mellifera Adansonni), live throughout the year in colonies consisting of a queen or mother bee, which is a fertile egg-laying female 10,000 to 200,000 worker bees called drones that may be present in the colony only during the reproductive season. Honey bees naturally build .their nests in a hole of a tree, inside a cave and under the roof of buildings, but traditionally, people also keep bee colonies, beekeeping has been in practice in many part of the world (Alberg, 2004). The main reason for keeping bees by farmers is to extract the honey they produce. The honey has been used for dressing the wounds, as anti-diarrhoea drug, in alcoholic drink, tobacco curing, bakery and confectionery and in manufacturing of cosmetics. In addition, other honey products like bee wax, propolis, bee venom, and royal jelly are foreign exchange earning commodities for some countries while the crop pollination role of the bees is of tremendous important. Beekeeping, though not widely practiced in the country is another economic enterprise that has over the years improved the living conditions and livelihood of many in the study area. Beekeeping is the art and science of raising honey bee for man’s economic benefits is also called apiculture (Chinaka, 2014). It refers to the practice and management of the bees in the hives (Ojeleye, 2011; Shu’aib et. al., 2009), which leads to the production of valuable materials such as honey, beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, bee venom and royal jelly. The importance of beekeeping to the society is enormous. For instance, Ojo (2004) describe the enterprise as a means of empowering youth economically because of its many advantages over other types of agricultural enterprises. The enterprise needs relativity small investment capital and most of the equipment needed for both traditional and modern beekeeping can be sourced locally. In beekeeping, the quality of land required is less important because hives are placed either on the trees or on the ground. It is also not competing with other enterprises for resources as the bees use nectar and pollen grains of plants. The Honey is not only priced as food but as medicine for healing many ailments (Shu’aib et. al., 2009). Honey, the natural food of the honey bee, is describes as man's sweetest food (FAO, 2012). Honey is a sweet, thick, supersaturated sugar solution manufactured by bees to feed their larvae and for subsistence in dry season. Bee honey is composed of fructose, glucose, and water, in varying proportions; it also contains several enzymes and oils (Philip, 2014) described honey as a natural invert sugar, in fact a sugar invertase (B-Fructosidase) trapped in the pouch of bees and thus transforms the excess of sucrose in the necter and its P.H (4.0) is a little higher than that of industrial invert sugar. The process of honey cultivation and harvesting has increased in Nigeria and there is the need to rise to the challenges of the ever expanding honey demands by designing machines that will help the local farmers in solving this problem. The recent increase in the demand of honey is as a result of its great economic importance which ranged from numerous uses as food to medical relevance. To meet this demand, requires finding a way of extracting honey from the honey comb and should be different and more efficient from the obsolete and traditional methods in existence by the local beekeepers. To remove the honey from the combs efficiently, there is need for an extractor. A mechanical device for the removal of honey from the honey combs without destroying the combs (Halley et al., 2016). According to (Carl, 2011) the study and keeping of bees which is referred to as "Apiculture" often begins as a hobby which can later be expanded into a small business. This practice is well suited for small farm operations and in the recent times, many Nigerian farmers have started venturing in to this profitable business, thus making the honey production sector grow wide.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
The current global economic meltdown has had its devastating turn on Nigeria as a nation, biting hard on organizations, businesses, families and homes. The frantic search for alternative resource of national revenue aside oil has become imperative for economic emancipation of the lots of Nigerians. Agriculture and biotechnology including beekeeping offers an unexploited succour capable of salvaging the people from abject hunger and poverty. Creating renewed awareness and practice of beekeeping in the rural setting would go a long way in eradicating global economic challenges. Ayansola, (2012) observed that beekeeping will help to reduce the endemic poverty problem in Nigeria, especially in the rural communities. In order word, beekeeping which is an aspect of agriculture, scientifically called apiculture is a self-reliance enterprise that will help reduce the hardship, unemployment and other social vices associated with it. Beekeeping for honey production is a profitable agricultural enterprise nowadays in all parts of the world including Nigeria. It is an important foreign exchange earner for those that export honey and beeswax. However, beekeeping as a commercial venture is still largely unexplored in Nigeria in large scale production, and the country meets domestic demand for honey mostly by importation from producer countries, and locally by bee hunters (Ja’Afarfuro 2007; Ayansola 2012). Honey, the major apiculture product is produced in nearly all countries of the world. Total world production in 2014 was estimated at 1.2 million MT. However, only about 400 000 MT of the honey is traded in the export market annually, implying a dominance of domestic markets within the producing countries (Gu G et al., 2002; UEPB, 2005).
1.3 AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine economics of apiculture in Imo state, Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense benefit towards the development of agriculture in Nigeria by properly assessing the importance of agriculture to the country at large. From the foregoing, it is evident that bee and it’s by products are crucial to the economy development and health of the nation. It becomes imperative to assess socioeconomic characteristics, profitability and resource use efficiency of beekeeping in Imo State by bee farming for designing policies to meet the needs and well being of farmers. It is hoped that the result that comes out from this study will help the bee farmers and the policy makers in improving upon the yield of honey production. The study would also be of immense benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing further studies on the subject matter.
1.7 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to economics of apiculture in Imo state, Nigeria.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
DEFINITION OF TERMS
Agriculture: The science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products.
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