THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURE EXTENSION IN INCREASING FOOD PRODUCTION AS A STRATEGY IN REDUCING POVERTY
1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture is the main source of income for around 2.5 billion people in the developing world. It remains the backbone of many African economies, accounting for 57 percent of total employment, 17 percent of GDP and 11 percent of export earnings on the continent (World Bank, 2008). In Nigeria, the sector contributed 34.5 percent to GDP and US$2,197 million foreign exchange earnings mainly from cocoa, timber and non-traditional agricultural exports in 2009 (ISSER, 2010). According to the MoFA (2010), 50.6 percent of the total labour force in the country is engaged in farming, forestry, fishing and hunting, with women accounting for 51.8 percent in 2009. In spite of the key role agriculture plays in the growth of the economy of Nigeria, the sector has recorded a decline in its contribution to GDP, employment, government revenue and foreign exchange earnings in recent years.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Despite the positive growth experienced by the agricultural sector since the mid 1980s, bottlenecks that inhibit agricultural productivity remain. A study conducted by Asuming et al (2008) indicated that average yields in agriculture have remained stagnant. They noted that generally, increases in agricultural production have been achieved primarily by farmers using extensive methods such as increased land area and manual labour. Agriculture is predominantly practiced on a smallholder basis on family-operated farms. The majority of agricultural producers in Nigeria still use the “cutlass and hoe” approach in crop production with technological change very slow and minimal (Asuming et al,2008).
1.3 Research Questions
The discussion raises a number of questions which require answers. As a result, the study aims at providing answers to the following questions:
i. What is the nature of the agricultural extension services provided to the farmers in the Kano State?
ii. What are the institutional and logistical arrangements put in place for effective agricultural extension services delivery in the study area?
1.4 Statement of Objectives
The broad objective of the study is to examine the problems of agricultural extension services delivery and their effects on agricultural development in the Kano State of Nigeria. The study therefore seeks to achieve the following specific objectives;
i. To examine the nature of the agricultural extension services provided to the farmers in the Kano State
ii. To assess the institutional and logistical arrangements put in place for effective agricultural extension services delivery in the region
1.5 Scope of the Study
The research was conducted in the Kano State of Nigeria. Three Local government area of the region were selected to form part of the study based on purposive sampling. They are Dawakin Kudu, Gwarzo and KombotsoLocal government area. These Local government area were selected to form part of the study because majority of the inhabitants are engaged in traditional agriculture and live in poverty.
1.6 Justification of the StudyMajority of Nigeria’s population lives in rural areas with agriculture as their main economic activity. With the rural sector producing the bulk of the nation’s output of food, the standard of living of the rural people needs to be improved. One way of achieving this is a carefully planned and implemented agricultural transformation strategy necessary to accelerate the pace of agricultural modernization for increased yield and income. Among the objectives of the provision of extension services is to transfer improved agricultural technology to the farmers and assist them to secure micro loans and get access to market to enable them increase farm productivity to create wealth for improved living standards.
1.7 Limitations of the StudyThe researcher encountered some difficulties during the data collection stage. Some of the District Directors of Agriculture were not reluctant to provide information to the researcher with the reason that similar studies conducted in their area had not led to any impact on their services. However, as a result of constant dialoguing and persuasions, this limitation was overcome.
1.8 Organization of the study
The research has been organized into five chapters. The first chapter introduces the research, identifies the key problem under investigation and asks the relevant questions. It further states the specific objectives of the research, defines its scope, gives a justification for the topic and outlines the limitations of the research. This chapter is relevant to the study because it puts the research into perspective and helps to check digressions. The second chapter presents a review of relevant literature on agricultural extension services system in developing countries in terms of extension services models and their approaches and methods of agricultural technology dissemination, funding, constraints of extension services provision and the impacts of extension services on poverty reduction.