Investigation of charcoal production in Makurdi and Guma local government areas of Benue state, Nigeria.
Tembe, Emmanuel Terzungwue
Economic adversity, scarcity, joblessness and upsurge in the price of oil have dictated the need for people to find alternative means of making a living in respect of domestic cooking energy in Nigeria. Therefore, this work examined charcoal production in both Makurdi and Guma LGAs of Benue state to ascertain its impact, contributions to rural livelihood and efforts in replanting trees felled for charcoal production. Villages involved in charcoal production were identified using snowball sampling techniques. A Multi-stage Sampling Technique was employed to select respondents for data collection as personal interview and semi-structured questionnaire were used. Twelve villages were selected purposively from four Council Wards out of eleven in Makurdi LGA, while six villages were selected from two Council Wards out of ten were ten in Guma LGA. Three charcoal producers and marketers were selected in each village for administration of questionnaire. Results revealed that males (85.4%, 83.7%) were higher than females (14.6%, 16.3%) in Makurdi and Guma LGAs, respectively. Youths between ages of 21-30 years (27.1% and 32.6%) in Makudri and Guma with highest level of secondary education were foremost in the business. Prosopis africana was the most preferred tree species for charcoal production in the area. Despite fewer number of Council Wards chosen in Guma LGA, yet, respondents felled as much as 132 trees per week for charcoal production against 109 trees felled in Makurdi LGA which sum up to 241 trees felled per week. The results also reveal that on weekly bases, 22 charcoal producers in Makurdi earned N25,000, while 18 in Guma LGA earned between N11, 000 - N15, 000 from charcoal business. The result further revealed that, respondents met family needs as feeding, paying school fees and purchase of motorcycle. The major health hazard encountered by respondents in Makurdi and Guma LGAs was fire burn (50% and 25%), respectively. Efforts in replanting trees in the study area was minimal through plantation forestry and agroforestry. In conclusion, charcoal production was observed to improve socio economic benefits to people. However, alternative source of livelihood should be provided for the people to mitigate the adverse effect of deforestation.Key words: Charcoal, deforestation, livelihood, Prosopis africana, wood species, Key words: Charcoal, deforestation, livelihood, Prosopis africana, wood species,