The present study examines pesticide use in producing multiple food crops (i.e., rice, yam, and cassava) and identifies the range of socio-economic factors influencing pesticide use by 400 farmers from Ebonyi and Anambra states of Southeastern Nigeria using a Tobit model. Results reveal that 68% of the farmers grew at least two food crops. Overall, 41% of the farmers applied pesticides in at least one food crop, whereas 70% of the farmers producing both rice and yam applied pesticides. Pesticide use rates and costs vary significantly amongst farmers producing different food crops and crop combinations. Pesticide use rate is highest for producing yam followed by cassava estimated at 1.52 L/ha costing Naira 1677.97 per ha and 1.37 L/ha costing Naira 1514.96 per ha. Similarly, pesticide use rate is highest for the farmers that produce both yam and cassava followed by farmers that produce both rice and cassava. The inverse farm size–pesticide use rate exists in the study areas, i.e., the pesticide use rate is highest for the small farmers (p
< 0.01). Farmers seem to treat pesticides as substitutes for labor and ploughing services, indicated by the significant positive influence of labor wage and ploughing price on pesticide use. Increases in yam price significantly increase pesticide use. Rice production significantly increases pesticide use, whereas cassava production significantly reduces pesticide use. Male farmers use significantly more pesticides. Farming experience is significantly positively related to pesticide use. Policy recommendations include land reform policies aimed at increasing farm operation size and investment in programmes to promote cassava production to reduce pesticide use in food crop production in Southeastern Nigeria.
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