This study comparatively examined the demographic and production characteristics of rain-fed upland rice farmers in Osun and Oyo states of Nigeria; estimated the profitability, of rain-fed upland rice production as well as determined the technical efficiencies of rain-fed upland rice production in the study areas. Data collected from 300 rice growers in the two States through a combination of purposive and multi-stage random sampling techniques were analyzed, using descriptive statistics, gross margin analysis and the stochastic frontier production function analysis. Results showed that the mean ages of the rice farmers were about 44 years and 38 years which implied that rice farmers in Oyo state were younger than their counterparts in Osun state, while the mean rice farm sizes were 1.3 ha and 1.9 ha for Osun and Oyo states respectively.
Rice paddy outputs averaged about 1,679.5kg/ha in Osun while that of Oyo state was about 1,158kg/ha. Rice paddy growers in Osun state earned average gross margin/ha of N34, 181.38 while their counterparts in Oyo State received N25, 448.84. Thus, rain-fed upland rice production could be said to be profitable among small-scale farmers in Osun and Oyo States. The benefit cost ratio of 2.69 and 2.49 obtained for rice farmers in Osun and Oyo state respectively, showed that rain-fed upland rice production is a worthwhile investment.
Results of the stochastic frontier production function analysis showed that land was the most productive resource with elasticity of production of 0.961 and 0.314 for Osun and Oyo states respectively, the predicted technical efficiency estimates showed that rain-fed upland rice farmers in Oyo state (with mean technical efficiency of 94.3% were more technically efficient than their counterparts from Osun state (with mean technical efficiency of 90.1 %).
Although rain-fed upland rice enterprise was profitable in the study areas, rain-fed upland rice farmers were not fully technically efficient in the use of production resources available to them because there were scopes for increasing paddy production by 9.9% and 5.7% technical efficiencies in Osun and Oyo state respectively using the present technology.