1.1 Background of the Study
The major role of agricultural Extension (i.e. farmer education) in the social and economic development of the nation cannot be over-looked. In Nigerian history, it has never been a major aim of the government to educate and raise the productive capacity of our farmers as compared to what is in existence as it is today. Increased agricultural productivity depends primarily upon the acceptance of cultural and technological changes at the rural farm level (Anaetoet al.,2012).
In order to improve Nigerian agriculture, farmers will have no choice than to learn and adopt recommended scientific farming techniques in place of the obsolete practices they have been used to. Perhaps, under development of Nigerian agriculture can be attributed to the inability of the Nigerian farmers to adopt and utilise new ideas or innovations. Farmers will respond positively to innovations if they are properly educated on how best to utilise the new ideas or practices introduced to them for their farming activities. This is because the innovations are new to them and this makes it looksdifficult, technical and can hardly be easily assimilated by most of the farmers. Increased productivity cannot be achieved in Nigeria, unless if provision of infrastructural facilities and modern agricultural inputs are provided for the farming households, frequent visitation by extension agents and provision of market channels to sell farm produce and products are all provided for the farmers. If all this are provided as at when needed and the farmers have easy accessibility to it, millions of the farmers will move from traditional to progressive farming, thereby improving the overall quality of rural life (Anaetoet al.,2012).
Agricultural extension has been widely recognized by scholars as an essential ingredient for ameliorating the livelihood of farmers. Development policies consider investments in extension services as important tools for improving agricultural productivity and increasing farmers’ income (Anderson &Feder, 2007). Extension, as deﬁned by Akinsorotan (2002), is an informal educational process directed toward rural people and is the key to increasing the efﬁciency of the farm family, production, and, in general, the standard of living and this are all done with the use of agricultural officers. Extension is premised and pivoted on helping farmers to help themselves, by analyzing farmers’ problems; stimulating innovations; identifying opportunities; providing advisory services; and delivering and promoting improved agricultural technologies, supportive to the farmers.
Extension service delivery for a long time had been handled and coordinated by the States’ Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs), until recently in 2013 when the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension (FDAE) was created to ensure the harmonization of public extension, private extension, and externally funded projects for integrated agricultural development in the country. ADP, as the implementation organ for extension delivery, is structured such that the governor is the chairman; other members include the program manager, director and deputy directors of extension services, zonal managers, zonal extension ofﬁcers, subject matter specialists, block extension agents and village extension agents. There are six extension divisions for efﬁcient administrative operation, namely Extension Services; Women, Vulnerable Groups and Youth; Program Management Unit (PMU), which conducts the planning, monitoring and evaluation of programs; Media and Communications; Capacity Building; and Value Chain Promotion and Development. The extension agents receive training at the headquarters where top management ofﬁcers are posted through sponsorship to conferences local and abroad. At the block level, all extension staff hold Monthly Technical Review (MTR) sessions and, at the village level, extension agents enjoy Fortnight Training meetings (FNT) with farmers in ﬁeld situations (Oluwasusi and Akanni, 2014).
The agricultural extension services operates from the back drop belief that increased agricultural productivity depends primarily upon the acceptance of improved cultural and technological change at the rural farm level and that peasant farmers can achieve higher farm yield only if they adopt recommended scientific farming techniques in place of their traditional practices (Aphum and Obikhian, 2008) and this is a fundamental role that agricultural officers are expected to play in achieving a comprehensive positive report on the development of agriculture.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Food production is failing to keep pace with the nation’s increasing population due to low budgetary allocations to agriculture by state and federal governments; logistical challenges in the planning and implementation of extension systems and in human resource development and management succession; and sustainability amidst inaccurate weather forecasts, farmers’ access to agricultural inputs, credit services and validated, up-to-date information on existing technologies. The federal government’s Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA) is yet to be followed with sustained policy reforms and adequate private partnership investments. The problem of inadequate agricultural officers has been a major problem to the development of agriculture (Oluwasusi and Akanni 2014).
The contradictions in agricultural extension impact studies could be traced to the chain of delivery of extension programs in terms of complexity, predictability, acceptability and affordability of innovation packages, methods of dissemination, and impact of the innovation packages for adoption and sustained utilization by a targeted group or audience for a multiplier effect on the group’s productivity (Oluwasusi and Akanni 2014). Though from the background from which Agricultural Development Programmes (ADP) was initiate, various activities that will bring about sporadic improvement in agriculture was laid down but the implementation of this activities has been a major problem and this is traceable to lack of funds, inadequate agricultural officer personnel, poor infrastructural developments, top-down approach and many more. Agricultural officers at the local governments level have not been working in line with the policy laid by the Agricultural Transformation Agenda of the federal governments, and this has really affects the productivity of the farmers under their domain. Different issues has been raised from other studies that shortage of staffs, inadequate funding, poor logistics amongst others thing have been affecting the performance of the local government agricultural officers. Based on this, this research work aims to reveals the activities engaged in the agricultural officers in Ibadan//Ibarapa and Ogbomoso Agricultural zone of Oyo State. The following research questions were provided answers to during the course of this research work.
1.3 Research Questions
- What are the socioeconomic and occupational characteristics of the agricultural officers in the study area?
- What aretheactivities engaged in and the extent of performance by the agricultural officers to the rural farmers in the study area?
- What are the challenges faced by the agricultural extension officers in performing the extension activities?
1.4 Objectives of the study
The general objective of the study was to identify the extension activities engaged in by the agricultural officers in the study area.
The specific objectives were to:
- describe the socio-economic and occupational characteristics of the agricultural officers in the study area
- identify the extension activities engaged and indicate the extent of performance of agricultural extension officers in the study area
- investigates the constraints hindering the agricultural officers to derive maximum satisfaction in extension activities engaged in
1.5 Hypothesis of the study
Ho: There is no significant relationship between the personal characteristics of the extension officers in the study area and the activities engaged in.
1.6 Justification of the study
The recent continuous destruction of oil pipelines and facilities in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria has greatly affected the country’s economy in recent times. The economy of the country which has for several decades relied heavily on oil exploitation for about 90% of its national income have continued to witness dwindling resources and poor revenue. The effects of several decades of neglect of other key sectors such as agriculture, industrialization, solid mineral resources and tourism are playing out clearly in the economy today (Olowoporokuet al.,2017). This has led to increase in food prices, depletion in foreign exchange, increased poverty level of the country, incapacitation of the governments (both federal and state) to pay civil servants salary as at when due, increased importation of food and unemployment. Agriculture is expected to give us the breakthrough from all these disaster the country found itself and this will be so, if policy laid down by stakeholders are executed in details, thus the need for this research work to review the activities the agricultural officers are engaged in so as to make recommendations on way forward to improve agricultural production through the efficient use and performance of agricultural officers in the study area.