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Abstract

There is an increasing consensus that diversifying into the cultivation of ‘Neglected and Underutilized Species’ (NUS), in addition to growing conventional crops, off ers a plethora of livelihood-enhancing benefi ts to small-scale agricultural households. Therefore this study examined the factors that infl uence small-scale farmers’ diversifi cation into the cultivation of the cashew nut plant (Anarcadium occidentale, Moringa oleifera and Jatropha curcas) in the guinea savannah region of Nigeria. We employed farm household-level survey data of the phenomenon in Kwara State. The data were analyzed using the Simson Index of Diversity (SID) and Tobit censored regression. Findings indicate that respondents diversifi ed most into the cultivation of cashews (70.9%), followed by moringa (38.4%), and jatropha (11.3%). The extent of diversifi cation was positively infl uenced by the farm size (p < 0.01), household head’s education level (p < 0.01), membership in a cooperative (p < 0.01), and farm income (p < 0.1). It was negatively infl uenced by the land tenure system practiced (p < 0.05). Findings imply, inter alia, that small-scale farmers may avoid diversifi cation into these crops if they have a limited access to cultivated land. This study therefore advocates ensuring equitable access to farmland through a structural and legislative land tenure reform policy.

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