ANALYSIS OF INCOME INEQUALITY AND POVERTY INCIDENCE AMONG OIL PALM FARMERS IN AKWA IBOM STATE, NIGERIA
Keywords:Oil palm, Farmers, Income inequality, Akwa Ibom State, Poverty
This study analyzed the income inequality and poverty incidence among oil palm farmers in Ikot Ekpene agricultural zone, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. A multistage sampling technique was employed to select one hundred oil palm farmers spread across the five local government areas in Ikot Ekpene Agricultural Zone. A structured questionnaire was administered to the oil palm farmers to obtain the necessary information. The study used descriptive and econometric tools to analyze information gathered. The analysis of the poverty incidence and income inequality revealed a poverty incidence of 0.56 and a Gini coefficient of 0.58. Poverty depth and severity stood at 0.41 and 0.22 respectively. The result also revealed that poverty incidence existed more among female farmers (52% of the poor); those with fewer years of formal education (89% of the poor); those whose ages range from 41 to 80 years (79% of the poor), those with less access to farm credit (84% of the poor), less access to extension services (70% of the poor) and married farmers (61% of the poor) as well as those with household size greater than 6 members (59% of the poor). The empirical results revealed that; gender (p<0.05), household size (p<0.01), the dependency ratio (p<0.01) and the existence of contract arrangement (p<0.05) were positive determinants of poverty incidence while the level of formal education (p<0.05), farm size (p<0.05), non-farm income (p<0.05), household asset (p<0.10), social organization (p<0.01), farming experience (p<0.05) and owned processing unit (p<10) were negative drivers of poverty incidence among oil palm farmers in the zone. Based on these findings, it is recommended that social capital formation should be encouraged among oil palm farmers in the State. Also, the State government should prohibit all forms of contractual arrangements between oil palm farmers and merchants and rather set up and monitor central markets for oil palm transactions in the State.