In recent times in Nigeria the rate of rural-urban migration has been on the increase posing serious threat to agricultural production. This study investigated the determinants of rural-urban migration and its effects on rural farm labor availability in Umuahia North Local Government Area of Abia state Nigeria. A multi-stage random sampling technique was used to select 60 farmer respondents using a well-structured questionnaire. Results showed that slightly more than half (53.3%) of the farmers were between 51 and 70 years of age. Sixty percent were females. Those that had a household size of between 1 to 4 persons was 61.6% with 55.0% of the household heads earning between N5, 000 and N30, 000 monthly. The rate of migration in the area was 61- 90% and major causes of rural-urban migration in the area were the search for jobs, the quest for education, to join spouse, low economic empowerment, social amenities and for apprenticeship training.
These were all significant at 1.0% level of significance. Rate of rural-urban migration had a negative effect on rural farm labor availability at 1.0% level. It is recommended that governments at the three tiers-federal, state and local governments should work in partnership to ensure that the rural areas are opened up with necessary job creation and social amenities such as good roads, water, supply, electricity, educational institutions, etc. this will have a multiplier effect of providing rural dwellers with good jobs, economic empowerment, better literacy level and mitigate rural-urban migration. Human migration is a physical movement of humans from one district to another, sometimes over long distances, in singles or in large groups. In modern times, this movement has continued under the form of either voluntary migration within one’s region, country or beyond or involuntary migration under a great variety of circumstances ranging from climatic, political, economic, and religion to love for adventure (Sayad, 2004).
Migration, especially in this part of the world, has become a part of man since he is always searching for greener pastures to satisfy his wants According to Eboh (2002), a migrant is a person who changes his usual place of residence with an intention to stay in the area of arrival or destination. This migration according to him involves the crossing of national boundaries (in the case of international migration) and the crossing of administrative boundaries within a country (in the case of internal migration). Migration may exist as rural-rural, rural-urban, urban-urban or urban-rural migration. Rural-urban migration which is the crux of this study, and which is predominant in most parts of Africa more often than not involves a movement from low-order to a high-order central place. Migration, with its long history, is an inevitable part of human existence. The pattern of migration has changed considerably over time from search for space and pasture from more populated areas to less populated areas, especially in the Middle Ages to that of Migrants moving from rural areas to the densely populated urban centers in search of non-existent white collar jobs. Dixon (2005) saw migration as a natural response to changing economic opportunity. Surplus farm labor from the rural areas would migrate towards urban centers in search of greater economic opportunity (Bergelliot, 2006).
Labor migration is one of the key factors that affect farm labor supply. Nigerian youths tend to look down upon farm labor but prefer to migrate from rural areas to urban centers where they hope to get job opportunities and other social amenities. This attitude is the main problem confronting the rural labor supply in Nigeria today. Harris (2007) opines that it is generally the young who migrate or leave rural places and its styles of work to seek better opportunities elsewhere. After more than 50 years of independence, rural Nigeria has not significantly changed. Agriculture has remained the primary occupation and source of earnings for rural dwellers. The greater proportion of migrants from the rural areas remains jobless in the cities; they prefer to remain in the cities because “urban misery, they reason is better than rural woes” (Onyeneke, 2005). Furthermore, they are attracted to the urban booming petroleum sector with its high wage and employment opportunities (Okorie, 2006). According to Smith (2005), a typical rural community in less developed countries such as Nigeria, is made up of individual villages, households, and hamlets with a population of each unit less or equal to twenty thousand inhabitants. According to Walter (2006), men, women, and children are the sources of rural labor supply, but children who traditionally constitute a supplementary farm family labor are in school for a greater part of the year. The increasing flow of labour and manpower away from the rural area has put a great burden on the agricultural sector because a decreasing proportion of the rural population now feeds an increasing proportion of the nonagricultural population without a significant improvement in the tools used and in the method of farming. The study was carried out in Umuahia North local government area (L.G.A) of Abia State, Nigeria.
Umuahia North L.G.A is bounded on the north by Bende L.G.A, on the West by Isuikwuato L.G.A, on the East by Ikwuano L.G.A and on the South by Umuahia South L.G.A. The study area lies within latitude 5°23′ and 5°45′ North of the equator and longitude 70°23′ and 70°73′ East of the Greenwich meridian. Umuahia North LGA has a population of about 223,143 people (NPC, 2006). Multi-stage random sampling technique was adopted for this study. Five out of the ten autonomous communities in the local government area were randomly selected. The selected autonomous communities were Ossah, Ndume, Nkwoegwu, Ibeku, and Ofeme. From each of the five autonomous communities, 2 villages were randomly selected making a total of 10 villages. At the village level, a list of farm households who have members of their households resident in the cities were drawn up and 12 farm households were randomly selected from each village bringing the sample size to 120. Primary and secondary data were used. Primary data were collected using structured questionnaires and the secondary sources of data were obtained from journals, proceedings, textbooks, published and unpublished research works.
Data generated were analyzed using descriptive statistics such as means, frequency distribution and percentage. Rate of migration was computed by dividing the total number of migrants per household by the household size and expressed in percentage (Nwajiuba and Ejiogu, 2008; Onyeneke, 2005). Objective i was analyzed using descriptive statistics such as frequency distribution and percentage. Objective ii was computed by dividing the total number of migrants per household by the household size and expressed in percentage (Nwajiuba and Ejiogu, 2008; Onyeneke, 2005). OLS Multiple regression analysis was employed to determine objective iii the cause of rural-urban migration in the area. Objective iv was realized with simple regression analysis