Authors: U Onuche, HI Opaluwa, MH Edoka
This study was carried out to analyse the impact of ill health on agricultural outputs in rural areas of Kogi state, central Nigeria. The motivation derives from the fact that rural areas which are strategically important for national food security are more prone to health hazards as a result of the poor nature of health services arising partly from neglect by government. The objectives were to present the socioeconomic characteristics of the rural farm households and identify the prevailing health and agricultural production nexus in the area. The use of multistage random sampling procedure was employed in the selection of 263 rural households for questionnaire administration in order to elicit relevant data related to their farming enterprises and health. The use of descriptive statistics and production function analysis were employed. The study revealed that the average age of the household heads was 46.4 years while the average household size was 6.5 persons. Also, the average farm size was 1.43 ha and the average number of years of formal education was found to be
7.4. Furthermore, the study revealed that the most prominent disease conditions affecting farm families were malaria fever, typhoid fever and diarrhea and these led to an average of 8.2 days reduction in time available for farm work in a farming season. Result from the production function analysis revealed that the elasticities of farm size (0.419), family size (0.099), number of contacts with extension staff (0.018), labour (0.012) and naira amount of credit accessed (0.25) were positively signed and significant at 1%, 10%, 1%, 5% and 1% respectively; while number of days of farm work lost to ill health was negatively signed (- 0.09) and significant at 5%. Findings suggest that focusing on number of days of farming activities lost to ill health in a household might help elicit a clearer picture of the effect of transient ill health on agricultural production. More research and development effort in the provision of and accessibility to health care in the rural areas in order to reduce the incidence of diseases are recommended. Such efforts should also include the provision of adequate health and environmental education for the rural population as the most common ailments discovered in the study area are actually hygiene and environment related.