1.1       Background to the Study

Agriculture is the oldest profession on earth (Ologbowon, 2011). Many generations ago lived and survived through the cultivation of land and rearing of animals for food and for sale. Many countries of the world depended and are still depending on agriculture for foreign exchange (Akangbe, Komolafe, and Oduwaiye, 2016). Agriculture in the past involved the use of hand tools that cost time and energy with little efficiencyand profitability but high risk of injury and low productivity (Rahji, 2005). Today, the quest to meet the demand for food and other resources triggered by ever increasing human population, has led to the discovery, application and adoption of different technological methods of farming, processing and storage of agricultural products (Fakayode, Rahji, Adeniyi., 2009).

Before now, the safety of farmers during farming operations was a major concern as there was little knowledge of what to do in order to treat field injuries, attack on crops as well as processed agricultural products.However, the technological revolution witnessed in the agricultural sector today has resulted in wide knowledge in safety issues of farm workers and farm produce (ILO, 2000).

Agricultural operations all over the world is hazardous, resulting in a large number of injuries to farmers or even death. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO, 2000), the agricultural sector is one of the most hazardous to health worldwide.Olatunji, Ehebha and Ifeanyi-Obi(2013)pointed out that the productivity of farmers is affected bya number of occupational hazards and health problemssuch as Malaria, musculoskeletal disorders, farm injuries,yellow fever, Diarrhea diseases, respiratory diseasesand skin disorder. Other literature, explainedthe effects of some hazards on farming activities: Exposureto dust, fumes gases, and particulates, snake and insect bites, weather and climate, carrying and lifting loads,poor farming posture and hazard due to farm tools (Donald, 2006, Ajani and Ugwu, 2008). According to Onasanya and Onasanya (2006), the reason is because farmers do not put on the necessary protective clothing when using chemicals and necessary equipment is not used.

         The health status of farmers determines the output of his/her labour supply and hence agricultural productivity. Egbetokun, Ajijola, Omonona and Omidele(2012)opined that there is a correlation between health and productivity of labour. Ill-health arising from agricultural work has negative implications for agricultural productivity.Investigations of Cole (2006) and Akangbe, et al., (2016) found that the vast majority of women farmers practicing mixed cropping system in Osun and Kwara States suffered from intense muscular fatigue, heat exhaustion, and skin disorders, forcing them to take days off from attending to their crops. These hazards make farmers not to utilize fully all inputs at their disposal, reduces productivity, and equally impacts negatively on farm profit.

Oduwaiye, Akangbe, Komolafe and Ajibola, (2015) reported that high cost of safety equipment, inconvenience during work, unavailability, lack of knowledge of its importance and how to use them and cultural constraints are the major reasons farmers do not adopt farm safety practices. Also, lack of proper orientation about risk hazards associated with certain farming activities makes farmers to pay little or no attention to adopting safety measures.

In Akwa Ibom state, poultry farming is marred with risks of uncertain outcome, such as economic instability, price fluctuations and disasters which leads to losses. Although studies of this nature is yet to be conducted in Ika local government area, results of related studies carried out in Etim Ekpo, a neigbouring town with ika, reveals that poultry farmers in the area were affected by farming risks such as severe weather, predation, power failure, high mortality, as well as disaster from flooding (Effiong et al., 2014). However, the study also reported the adoption of safety measures/risk management practices such as timely vaccination, use of foot dip, fencing/netting disinfecting the poultry house, proper egg collection, good hygiene, effective power supply and use of resistant species.This project therefore intends to assess the safety knowledge and practices among poultry farmers in Ika local government area of Akwa Ibom State.

  1. Statement of the Problem

Agriculture as carried out today is a dangerous occupation, with millions of workers sustaining injury and death throughout the world (Mustafa and Batani, 2003). The issue of health and safety in agriculture in a developing nation like Nigeria is still at a decline or non-existence despite the fact that agriculture is still the mainstay of her economy in spite of its decline in the 70’s due to oil boom. In terms of employment, agriculture is by far the most important sector of Nigeria’s economy, engaging about 70% of the labor force (Kwanasahi, 1998).

A greater fraction of the country’s population of over 170 million people depends on agriculture for their livelihood either directly or indirectly. But this sector is one which there is a deep seated culture of unwise risk taking and lack of appreciationof the role good health and safety management can play (Ide, 2008).

Farm workers are exposed to hazard ranging from; chemical, physical, ergonomics, biological and psychosocial hazards thereby leading to disorders and diseases like carcinogenicity (cancer causing), mutagenicity (induce mutations), tetragenicity(affect the feotus), psychiatric disorder and delayed neuropathy, and the dusts have been known to cause diseases ranging from Byssinosis, occupational asthma, pneumonitis and non-specific Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease(COPD) (Mustafa and Batani, 2003) and musculoskeletal disorder which the list is endless. After construction, agricultural sector has the worst record for work related fatalities and one of the worst for occupational ill health and injuries (Ide, 2008, OSHA, 2012).

Ika Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom state is not different. Infact, there is dearth of information regarding farmers health, safety profile and practices and how they affect their productivity in Ika Local Government Area as no study has been conducted so far on this.

Farmer’s orientation on farm safety and health management is higher in areas where there is access to good health facilities, education, and information as farmers tend to suffer from farm risks where there are no basic social amenities (Effiong, Enyenihi and George, 2014). However, in Ika Local Government Area, these attributes are slim and /or lacking due to poor accessibility as well as availability of social amenities.