Analysis of fluted pumpkin production in isoko north local government area
Background of the study
Fluted pumpkin is a very important vegetable that is popular in West Africa. It belongs to the family Telfaria Occidentalis Hook F. cucurbitaceae. It is a leafy vegetable that produces fruits. (Enabulele and Uavbarhe, 2001). Tindall, (1989) defined leafy vegetables as herbaceous plants used for culinary purposes. They are used to increase the dietary quality of soups. The fruit on full maturity has a weight of 10kg. and an appearance of 10 distinctive longitudinal ribs on the surface. It is popular in West Africa. The edible part of this vegetable are the large red seeds, leaves and young shoots used for traditional soup. Protein rich seed can be roasted or grounded for use in porridge. The flesh of the fruit has good oil content which can be used as cooking oil. Although fluted pumpkin is a minor oil crop it possesses healing properties that have been found effective in boosting blood levels and also in maintaining bone mineral density in older men when more of the seeds are consumed. It’s important role in ensuring food security for the populace has not been overlooked by the present administration through the 7 point agenda. Fluted pumpkin consumption has improved over the years and it is an important component of the daily diets of Nigerians (Okoli and Mgbeogu, 1983). Due it’s hypolipidemic action, it lowers blood cholesterol and thus protects from a large range of associated complications like cardiac problems, hypertension and diabetes Margret, (2011).
The joint FAO/WHO 2003 consultation on diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic disease recommended a minimum intake of 400g of leafy vegetables which helps in preventing and managing of nutritional and also health related diseases that are rampant in rural areas. According to Chweya and Denton (2000) the nutritional contribution of fluted pumpkin is essential for good health and growth among lactating mothers. The seed of fluted pumpkin contains essential nutrients in significant amounts which can supplement other foods (Christian and Ejeafehe, 2007). It has been shown that adding fluted pumpkin seeds to diet compares favourably with conventional drugs in reducing inflammatory symptoms of arthritis (Doan, 2008).
According to Koomolafe (1978), the uses of vegetables include:
Practical study of crop plants in school gardens, good sources of food, reasonable income by selling the vegetables.
Other uses of vegetables have emerged due to recent studies. They include:
- Medicinal value of some vegetables compare favourably with conventional drugs.
- Planted as cover crops that helps prevent and reduce soil erosion and leaching and also they out compete weeds (reducing the need for pesticides)
- Mitigate global warming by carbon sequestration.
- Vegetables have deep and extensive root system that can hold soil to capture dissolved nitrogen before it can contaminate ground and surface water.
Apart from fluted pumpkin, other vegetables produced in isoko north local government area include water leaf, bitter leaf, green
leaf (African spinach), Okro, pepper etc. Fluted pumpkin producers in the study area are faced with challenges of seedbed preparation, seedlings, pest management, fertilization, harvesting, transportation, processing and marketing as other farmers.( Awerosuo, 2008).
The problem assumes more importance as vegetables compete for the scarce farm resources including land, labour and capital. It is therefore necessary to examine and evaluate the economics of fluted pumpkin production in view of the resources constraints by farmers.