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THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION WORKER IN EDUCATING FARMERS IN PLANTAIN PRODUCTION IN SELECTED LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS IN EDO STATE
The study examined the role of extension workers in educating farmers and constraints farmers face in plantain production in some selected areas in Edo State, Nigeria. A total of 120 Plantain farmers were randomly selected from the study area. Farmers were interviewed using well structured questionnaire. Simple descriptive statistics and multiple regression were used to analysis the data collected. The likert scale techniques was used to identify the constraints faced by the farmers, the result revealed that 68.3 percent of the farmers were male while 31.7 percent were female, then 33.2 percent of the farmers with above 61 years of age, also 85.8 percent of the farmers have farm size ranging from 5 to 10 hectare. 52.5 percent of the farmers had annual income ranging from 200,000 to 399,000. While 60.8 percent of the farmers has no form of formal education. 100 percent of the farmers had no contact with extension workers which imply that extension services in the study areas were either low or non-existing. The major constraints the farmers faced were transportation, labour, storage processing, finance, lack of government incentives, low price index, poor knowledge of technology. Based on the study carried out it is recommended that extension services be intensified in the study area, provision of credit facilities to farmers, betterment of framers socio economic status, employment of modern equipment in production e.t.c
1.1 Background of the Study
Plantain belongs to the family Musacea sp and the genus Musa. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, 2 to 9 meter tall with an underground rhizome or corm. The principal species are Musa paradisca (French plantain) Musa acuminate and Musa corniculata (Horn Plantain).
The cultivars of plantain are French plantain, French horn plantain, false horn-plantain and horn-plantain. Plantain thrives on a wide range of tropical and sub-tropical climates. It requires an optimum temperature of 300C, mean monthly rainfall of 100mm, pH 4.5 and 7.5 and thrives on sandy loam soils (Faturoti, 2006).
Plantain Originated in South India and moved to South East Africa, from where it spread to Central and West Africa, it is believed to be the oldest cultivated fruit in West Central Africa. Plantain is grown as a staple food in 52 countries and world wide or about 12.5 million acres (Food and Agriculture Organization. Agro stat data base, 2004). World production of plantain was estimated in 1985 at 25 metric tons of this, 19.6 tons was projected for Africa, Latin America was the second place producer at 4.1 million metric tons (IFAD, 2001). Annual production in Nigeria is 1, 855, 000 metric tones (RMDC, 2002).
In Nigeria, the false horned type is the most widely distributed because of its ability to tolerate poor soil condition than others (John & Marehel, 1995). In Nigeria, plantain is produced in large quantities in Edo, Delta, Ogun, and Ondo States. Other producing states are River State, Cross River, Imo, Plateau, Kogi, Abia and Enugu. Plantain cultivation is not limited to big plantation but is often grown in small orchards which sometimes go unnoticed (Jirgi and Baba, 2001).
Agricultural Extension worker plays an important role in educating farmers on plantain production in the selected areas in Edo State because plantain is important in the diet of many Nigerian families, it is normally eaten in convenient form like “dodo” (fried ripe pulp), chip (fried unripe pulp) and as plantain flour (Akinwumi, 1999), this plantain flour has an advantage over other starchy foods because it contain protein, mineral & vitamins. Medicinally plantain can be used to cure some ailment like sore throat, tonsillitis, diarrhea and vomiting, due to its high nutrients, plantain is used in the production of soymusa, which can be used in the treatment of Kwashiorkor (Idachaba, 1995).
In Edo State some agricultural extension activities include the following:
- getting the farmers into a frame of mind and attitude conducive to acceptance or adoption of technological change. This function is achieved by educating the farmers on newly developed technology and to convince them of the visibility of the new technologies in agriculture.
- disseminating to the plantain farmers the result of research and to carry the farmer’s problem back to the research system for solution. In order to perform this function properly, effective communication exist among the research institute, the extension agent and the farmers and,
- helping farmers make wise decision in farm management processes. Extension is a significant tool in assisting the farmers to develop proficiency in the management of his farm and general agricultural advisory services (Agbamu, 2006).
Broadly speaking the role of agricultural extension workers call for the unique blend of skills and attitude. They must have the competence to understand and apply technical information related to their work as well as the ability to diagnose problems and come up with possible solutions such as adopting to new innovation practices. They should plan and organized extension activities and willingness to interact with others. The delivery system that matter most in dealing with farmers are the subject matter specialists who will help in assisting the extension agents in educating the farmers. Extension agents are also involved in farm input distribution (e.g. seed yam, hybrid maize, improved sucker e.t.c.) which invariably increase output and income generation.
1.2 Statement of Problem
For the past two decades, the major challenges be deviling developing countries like Nigeria is that of food insufficiency which is dependent on the frequency of extension workers effectiveness. Insufficient education of the farmers involved in plantain production contributes to food production shortage.
The backdrops of plantain production in agricultural extension are itemized in the following research questions:
a. What are the social-economic characteristics of plantain farmer in selected Local Government areas in Edo State?
b. How does farmers get information on plantain technology in the study Areas?
c. What are types of planting material used by the farmers in the selected local Government Areas in Edo State?
d. What is the level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers in the study Areas?
e. What are the possible constraints faced by farmer in plantain production in some selected Local Government Areas?
1.3 Objective of the Study
The major objective of this study is to determine the role of agricultural extension workers in educating the farmers in plantain production in the study area.
Specific objective were to:
a. identify the socio-economic characteristics of farmers in the study areas;
b. ascertain the source of information on plantain technology to the farmers in selected Local Government Areas in Edo state;
c. analyze the level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers;
d. survey the types of planting material used by the farmers and
e. assess the constraints faced by farmers in plantain production.