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INFORMATION SOURCING, ORGANIZATION AND DISSEMINATION BY AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION WORKERS IN BORNO STATE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME
The study was undertaken to determine the Information Sourcing, Organization and Dissemination by Agricultural Extension Workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme (BOSADP). Five research questions were investigated ranging from types of agricultural information sourced, methods adopted in sourcing the information, organization of agricultural information sourced, channels or ways of dissemination of agricultural information sourced and challenges encountered in the process of sourcing and disseminating the agricultural information by agricultural extension workers in BOSADP. Literature related to the objectives of the study was reviewed. Survey research method was adopted for the study. The total populations studied were 304 extension workers in BOSADP. A proportionate stratified sampling procedure was used to select 170 respondents out of the total population. 170 questionnaire was administered out of which 147 was duly filled and returned. The instruments used for data collection were close ended questionnaire and documentary sources. A descriptive statistic was used to analyze the data and was presented in tables using frequencies and percentages. The study revealed a high percentage sourcing of information on livestock production and application of inputs like fertilizer, pesticides etc. The study also revealed that agricultural extension workers adopted the method of sourcing agricultural information through discussion with farmers associations among others. On the organization of information sourced, respondent agreed that the information sourced were organized alphabetically by subject and were stored in file cabinets. The respondents agreed that they disseminate agricultural information through direct contact with farmers. The study revealed that extension workers were faced with multiple of challenges in the process of sourcing and dissemination of information, such challenges includes, low level of agricultural information exchange among stakeholders and poor funding of extension activities having recorded. The study concluded that the authority of BOSADP should provide all necessary and sustainable logistics to the extension services department so as to remove all possible bottlenecks or challenges hindering the agricultural extension activities in the State.
1.1 Background to the Study
Agriculture remains the mainstay of almost all economies of the sub- Saharan African which Nigeria is not an exception. In Nigeria agriculture had been the most effective and viable sector in revenue generation to the economy before the advent of the oil and gas sector. It is now second to oil and gas in terms of revenue generation, and contribution to national gross domestic product (GDP) and first in all employment opportunities in the country. This view was highlighted by President Goodluck Jonathan (2012) when he averred that agriculture accounts for about fourty percent (40%) of Nigerians gross domestic product (GDP) and over seventy percent (70%) of all employment. The sector also increases productivity which drives down rural poverty and revive rural economy. In addition Ugwu and Kanu (2012) also stated that more than seventy percent (70%) of Nigerian population depend on agriculture and provides subsistence farming for two-third of Nigerians who are low income earners.
Agriculture and farming are synonymous when it comes to their definition, a layman simply sees it as the ordinary cultivation of land to obtain food and cash crops for his/her livelihood, but to professionals and corporate organizational bodies they see it beyond that. Ugumba, et al (2010) define agriculture and farming as the practice of cultivating the land or raising stock and the production of agricultural goods through the growing of plants and the raising of domesticated animals. In a similar definition, United Nation Development Programme UNDP, (2008) sees agriculture as the cultivation of land for producing crops and proper utilization, processing, marketing and extension of not only crops but also other agricultural commodities such as fish, meat, eggs, forest product etc. Following the definitions given above, it can be
discerned that agriculture involves many activities such as cultivation of land for crop production, agro-forestry, and animal husbandry.
The history of agriculture in Nigeria can be traced as far back as when man started living in the area. Jibowo (2005) however divided the history of agriculture in Nigeria into three different periods; pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods. The pre-colonial period involved mainly the introduction of crops and livestock production practices. During the colonial era conscious efforts were made by the British colonialist to increase agricultural production through the provision of improved varieties of seeds and training to farmers. During this period the British established the Department of Botanical Research in 1893 popularly known as Moore Plantation in Ibadan, the establishment of the unified Department of Agriculture in 1921, the kwara irrigation scheme in 1926 and the Niger Agricultural Project in 1949. The post-colonial saw the establishment of Federal Ministry of Agriculture with its extension component in 1967 following the creation of twelve states out of the four regions. All these efforts were made because of the relevance of agriculture to the people and the Nigerian economy at large. The states created were not also left out in the establishment of State Ministries of Agriculture with extension units as vital area to enlighten the farmers on the use of agricultural inputs.
Agricultural Extension Services (AES)
Agricultural Extension Service (AES) was conceived to extend research based findings and information on agriculture to the farmers via agricultural extension workers with the aim of improving their agricultural produce and standard of living. It is expected to be the largest organization in an agricultural activities being the major sources of information to farmers.
Arokoyo and Delwa, (2000) defined extension as the main vehicle for information and technology transfer and more broadly for creating aspiration and attitude to change for carrying
problems of the farmers back to researchers. In a similar definition Jibowo, (2008) views agricultural extension as the dissemination of improved technical information in agriculture and consequently improving their yields, farm income, standard and level of living. Agricultural extension therefore can be seen as the entire set of organizations that support and facilitate people engaged in agricultural production to solve problems through obtaining information and skills on new farming technologies so as to improve their livelihood and well-being. AES involves the transfer of agricultural information and new implements to farmers and from farmers experience to the researchers through the extension workers. AES cannot be possible without available agricultural research findings and extension workers to disseminate the information, thus the need for research experts and extension workers to work closely. It is in line with this, Kimaro, Mukandiwa and Mario (2010), note that a strong link between extension workers and researchers will improve the quality of information being disseminated as well as adoption of new technologies by farmers, and consequently lead to increase in agricultural production and improved livelihoods of the rural poor. For these reasons therefore, agricultural extension workers should enhance the flow of accurate and current agricultural information at the right time, and give necessary technical advices to the farmers. Agricultural extension service represents a very important link in the dissemination of information. It is through extension workers that adopted information technologies can be transferred to the end-user since they are farmers‟ main information source.
Concept and Role of Agricultural Information in Agricultural Development Programmes
The word “information” is complex and difficult to define because it is multi-disciplinary and this is evident in the various definitions given by different authors. This is not surprising because information is as old as man, and that it affects and is affected by all aspects of human activities.
The various definitions reflect the emphasis of their use and the user. It is against this background that Cliss as cited in Ukachi (2006) observed that the data processing manager might conceive information in terms of data, the records manager in terms of records and reports, the librarian or information scientists in terms of documents or materials and the rural women in terms of message. Furthermore, Ajewole (2001) categorized the definition of information into three. The first is the scientific and technical information (STI). This is within the domain of scientific and technological communities. The second is socio-cultural which viewed information as knowledge, which is transferable in the conduct of various activities. In the third category, information is perceived as a basic resource and an indispensable and irreplaceable link between a variety of activities, intellectual and material, in the service of society, institutions and individuals. Information therefore can be regarded as a processed data which has meaning, purpose and relevance in decision making. So, timely availability of relevant information is vital for effective performance of managerial functions such as planning, organizing, leading and control. Tadesse, (2008) define agricultural information as the various sets of information and messages that are relevant to agricultural production activities of farmers such as crop production and protection, animal production and management, and natural resource production and conservation. For the purpose of this study agricultural information therefore refers to agriculture related data which are transformed into meaningful and useful context or form for effective decision making in agriculture or farming related activities.
The role of agricultural information in increasing agricultural production in Borno State as a whole may not be possible to quantify but there is no doubt that effective agricultural information services contributes significantly to agricultural production. Through agricultural information farmers can adopt new technologies or farming systems, know when to plant and
harvest, which crop to produce and which animal to rear and where to sell. It is also through agricultural information farmers can know where to acquire Bank facilities and other farming inputs, as well as how to control pest and diseases. Agricultural development occurring with weak information services on current agricultural research findings is usually slow. It is in this regard that Arokoyo and Delwa, (2000) narrated that a sustained high level of agricultural production and income is not always possible without an effective extension services, A continued wide spread improvement in agricultural extension services require a professional and effective information service delivery. Hence the establishment of National Agricultural Research and Extension services and Agricultural Development Project mandated to carry out agricultural researches and disseminate information to farmers via agricultural extension workers. Akinsorotan and Oladele (2009) opined the mission of the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) is to help farmers increase food production and farm income through the dissemination of information on the use of improved technology.
Agricultural information is divers because it involves large numbers of people and organizations in sourcing, organizing, disseminating and using it to take decision on crop production, livestock production, supply of inputs, produce processing and marketing, and so on. Therefore as noted by Mundy, (1992) flow of agricultural information is vital because without information about likely markets and prices, the producer cannot make decisions about what crops to grow and when to buy and sell. Similarly, without information about the location to get quantitative and qualitative produce, the processor cannot plan how much finished product to supply to consumers. Hence to compete with each other and to maintain stable production, producers need information about new technologies, most often developed by researchers at universities, research institutes, and private companies. To add further, Food and Agricultural
Organization (FAO, 2005) observed that agricultural marketing information played an important role in improving food marketing systems and promoting food security by giving farmers accurate knowledge on price movement, and thereby enabling them to identify competitive trading opportunities. Agricultural information is therefore crucial to all stakeholders in the sector, ranging from research organizations, experts, administrators, extension workers, farmers, processors, marketers, consumers and etc. Availability of such information will assist stakeholders in making final decision which is expected to fight poverty and improve the standard of living of the society at large and boast the national economy. This according to Sam, (2012) can only be possible when there is a coordinated agricultural information system that will be responsible for generating and sourcing of information. The information system should also have the capacity to improve agricultural information management to ensure effective networking through enhance access, sharing and dissemination of locally generated agricultural information. It should also develop repositories, such as, databases of experts, libraries for generated agricultural information resources. The information system should aim at improving communication among all stakeholders in agricultural information and advocate for investment in agricultural information.
Information Needs of Agricultural Extension Workers
Agricultural Extension Workers (AEW) are known to be the link between agricultural researchers, information systems and farmers. Therefore information needs of AEW basically depend on the information needs of the researchers and the farmers, because AEW exchange information among themselves, i.e. from researchers to farmers and vice versa. The information needs of extension workers according to Mugwisi, Ocholla and Mostert, (2012) includes; range management, animal breeding, agricultural engineering, dairy farming and plant breeding,
horticulture, crop production and protection, plant diseases, pests control, climate change and soil fertility. Extension workers need market-related information, to advise farmers particularly on selling their produce in order to help the farmers reduce loss. FAO (2005) asserts that accurate and timely agricultural marketing information also enables farmers to make more informed decisions and minimizes the loss that would be caused by the overproduction of certain commodities.
Information sources are tools that can possibly meet the information needs of different categories of extension workers. They are the information carriers while the extension worker is the medium through which agricultural information is passed to the farmers. There are different source of information but what matters are „what‟ sources are available and relevant to the different categories of extension workers, and what sources of information are useful for their different sourcing methods and choices. Hence authentic and reliable information source makes that source useful and sustainable to the user. Information sources of agricultural extension workers may differ depending on the type of service they render. But however, most studies conducted by scholars on the matter revealed some similarity of information sources of extension workers. Farooq, et al (2010) asserted that the main information sources of agricultural extension workers include publication, Agricultural Research Institutes, Television/Radio, Training and visit of Agricultural Officers to farmers. Similarly Alfred and Odefadehan (2007) reveals that the various information sources of extension workers include their organizations, individual associates, local, national and international seminars, workshops, trainings, print and electronic media, telecommunication, and internet services.
Information Management in Agriculture
Information management in agriculture in the view of Zakaria and Nagata (2008) means the
study of information flow between agricultural researchers, extension workers and farmers. It is an established method for ensuring a systematic and successful information management life-cycle in agriculture related activities. The concept of information management is about making sure of asking the right questions at the right time regarding the management requirements of internally produced information. It does this by breaking down the information 'lifecycle' movement into phases and identifies the most relevant issues that influence how information should be managed during each phase. Information management lifecycle generally include, information generation or creation, processing and organizing, storage and retrieval, and use.
Information generation is often the first stage in information management that require some thinking and planning so that the manager can create and manipulate information as quickly and easily as possible. Information generated should fit the purpose of the organization, capture the current, right and reliable information, and in the most appropriate format. To ensure good information management in agriculture a lot of factors need to be considered because, these factors will influence the type of information being created, its purpose, content and usage. Infokits (2007) noted that such factors shall include, who generate the information? Who will manage it? How is it going to be managed? Dose its content suit the purpose of the generation? And who will use it? These processes need to be flexible enough to accommodate the variety of information being created and to ensure that the right decisions regarding its management are considered and made at the right time throughout its lifecycle.
Information generated should be processed and organized in such a manner that it can easily be accessed and utilized. Information processing involves the transformation of collected data into meaningful and useful form for specific purposes. It may not be useful unless it is subjected to a process through which it is manipulated and organized, its content analyzed and evaluated.
Information created should therefore be processed by verifying the original source, recording and classifying them. Once it is processed it becomes ready for organization, and this involves sorting them based on either their use, similarity of purpose, date of creation or their code numbers. Organization of recorded information should be done in a descriptive form such as the title, subject and date of the document. For easy accessibility the processed information can be arranged using either in chronological or alphabetical order.
Information generated and processed need to be stored in an organized manner for onward use and re-used. Storage and retrieval are very essential stages in information management life-cycle because it gives the opportunity of continued use and re-used. Information recorded on paper form or printed form are stored manually in a file cabinet or vaults and in electronic devices such as magnetic disks or tapes, CD-ROMs, and DVDs in case of computer based storage systems. This recorded information is stored in a safe place to avoid destruction by insect, fire or theft. Thus, information whether in file cabinets or computers can be recalled for further processing and re-use. Information stored should therefore be retrieved anytime and transferred to the user for use. Unless it is made available to users who need it, it becomes worthless. It should be made available or delivered to the users so that they can use it for decision making.
Information Dissemination in Agricultural Work
Agricultural Extension services department is the most important public service rendered in BOSADP with the widest range of responsibilities for agricultural information dissemination via agricultural extension workers. It is therefore important to have an effective media or channels of communicating the latest agricultural information and technologies to these people for adoption. To achieve this there is a need to strengthen the existing information system and the channels of
communication so as to provide information that is timely, relevant, accurate, reliable, and in an appropriate language and format. Hence, the need for closer relationship between agricultural extension workers and farmers so that provision of broad and variety of information can be possible. Agbamu (2006) classified three models or methods of transferring information to farmers depending on the number of farmers that can be reached. These models are Farmer Home Model or Method, Group/Association Model or Method and Service Station Model. Farmer Home Model or Method is a contact method which has to do with a face- to- face discussion under a relaxed and informal atmosphere by an extension worker with a farmer for a specific objective. This method is established with one farmer at a time or a farm family that comprises father, mother, children and any relative in the household. This method provides the opportunity for extension workers to obtain first hand information on farmers‟ situation and problems. It enables the extension worker to plan for the home visit such as date of visit, inform farmer about the visit in advance, purpose of the visit and identify the farmer to be visited.
Group/Association Model or Method involve bringing farmers together in one form or another by the extension worker in order to undertake his extension work. This method takes into account the inclination of an extension worker to respond to the pressures and opinions of groups in which he participate and to listen to views of others before arriving at a decision about making changes. This model promotes interactions among members. When the extension worker presents an idea to a group, the group members may ask questions, exchange ideas with one another and may stimulate one another into participation or action. Group/Association model is frequently used in extension work because it enables the extension worker to reach more farmers at a time thereby saving cost and time. This is done through demonstrations, fieldtrips, group discussions etc. Service Station Model or Method involves using media techniques and new
technologies to reach large number of people at the same time. Information is conveyed to farmers over a wide area at high speed and at lower cost. This model use broadcast media such as radio, television, video/ film shows and audio tapes. Other media used is print sources such as bulletins, pamphlets, newsletters leaflets and internet services.
The question that is still being asked is what media, channels or technologies are most appropriate to use for transferring these research findings to the farmers since most of them are illiterate and reside in the rural areas? Irfan, et al (2006) indicated that such medium could include: radio, television, computer, cell phone, public campaign and the library service. In a contribution to the most appropriate and enormous advantages of these media or channels over the others (radio, television, cell phone, public campaign and library service) looking at the background of rural farmers. Okwu, Kuku and Abba (2007) reported that “radio is one broadcast medium which almost all experts have found to be the most appropriate medium of mass communication in the rural population”. Radio therefore remains most favored as a medium of communication in rural communities because of the advantage of demanding less intellectual effort than the print media messages and also because it is able to reach remote areas, even where there are no extension agents, as long as there is a good reception. So the use of radio as an extension tool should be widely accepted for its ability to reach illiterate farmers and provide them with information related to all aspects of agricultural production in a language they understand. The importance of radio in this era of rapidly developing information and communication technologies therefore cannot be over-emphasized, since it is believed to be a powerful mechanism for linking old and new technologies, providing information resources cheaply to those who need to improve their livelihoods.
Background Information on Borno State Agricultural Development Programme
The Borno State Agricultural Development Programme (BOSADP) is an integrated Programme which came into being following the merger of Borno Accelerated Development Area Programme (BOADAP) and Southern Borno Agricultural Development Programme (SBADP) in 1988, with the following main objectives;
1 To improve Agricultural Extension Services for regular agronomic, livestock, fisheries, and forestry advice to small scale farmers via village agricultural extension workers.
2 To establish a central agricultural inputs supply unit for an efficient distribution of seeds, fertilizer, agrochemicals and other farm inputs throughout the state.
3 To construct rural feeder roads to enhance rural communities in the areas of inputs delivery and produce evacuation to required areas
4 To provide water for small scale irrigation, human and livestock consumption through drilling
of boreholes, tube wells, wash boreholes, cement wells and livestock ponds.
These were supported through tripartite loan agreement in ratio of:
1 World Bank == 71%
2 Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) == 17%
3 Borno State Government (BOSG) == 12%
The loan came to an end in 1994 and the Programme is currently being financed by Borno State Government. (Gana, 2006).
In order to achieve the objectives of the BOSADP, the Programme is divided into various departments with specific schedules of duties to perform and easy coordination as follows:-1 Programme Managers Office
2 Finance and Accounts
3 Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation
4 Agricultural Extension and Technical Services
5 Fadama and Engineering Services
6 Rural Institution Developments
7 Administration and Supplies
Furthermore, the state is divided into three zones with Zonal Managers as the Heads, namely:-Zone 1: Biu, Hawul, Kwaya Kusar, Shani, Bayo, Damboa, Askira/Uba, Gwoza and Chibok Local Government Areas with Biu as Zonal Headquarter.
Zone 11: Bama, Konduga, Maiduguri Metropolitan, Jere, Mafa, Dikwa, Ngala, Kala Balge and Kaga Local Government Areas with Bama as Zonal Headquarter.
Zone 111: Kukawa, Monguno, Marte, Abadam, Guzamala, Mobar, Nganzai, Gubio, and Magumeri Local Government Areas with Kukawa as Zonal Headquarter. (BOSADP Edict, 1988)
In BOSADP, agricultural extension services department is vested with the responsibility of informing the farmers through the extension workers on recent agricultural research findings on either land preparation, cultivation, planting period, improved seeds, climatic factors like rainfall range, desertification problems, use of modern implements, fertilizer application, pest control and even market prices of agricultural produce. However, the successes of such extension services depend on how the extension workers enhance the flow of information. This can be determined by the information provided, which should be based on the relevancy, accuracy, timeliness, and appropriateness to the farmers needs and utilization.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Information transfer to farmers is the utmost mission of the Agricultural extension workers in
Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), farmers are expected to be keen to learn and know a lot on farming practices from the information disseminated to them. Ideally, the primary responsibilities of agricultural extension services are to inform and educate farmers to accept recent agricultural research findings so as to improve their standard of living through the transfer of improved farming practices. But because the farmers reside in remote areas and mostly uneducated, research findings cannot easily reach them without an effective information dissemination system. Functionality of such information dissemination systems like extension workers, libraries and information centers are therefore very essential for effective performance of Agricultural Development Programme.
Agricultural Extension workers are not only supposed to be the link between agricultural researchers and farmers but also serve as the engine of Agricultural Development Programmes. They are expected to source information from researchers and their organizations (ADPs) for onward transfer to farmers. On the other hand they are equally expected to bring back any information to the researchers and the ADPs.
Hence, because of the important role played by Agricultural Extension Workers in Agricultural Development Progammes, it is very important to understand and periodically evaluate them. It is also important to know the various ways they source information from, how they organize the information sourced and ultimately how they disseminate it.
In addition, effective organization of information resources is highly needed and this depends on the availability of skilled and experienced extension personnel or information professionals to plan, process, store in an organized manner, and disseminate the information appropriately and timely to the farmers. Allahyari (2009) noted that the basic problem of agricultural information resource organization is that of lack of skilled personnel, especially the field personnel to satisfy
the requirements of sustainable agriculture. This inadequacy of organizational skills among extension workers according to him lead to the failure of having an organized information resource centers and consequently having access to these resources becomes difficult to farmers. Hence, the Extension Services Department quest to disseminate agricultural information for the purpose of adopting new research findings so as to improve productivity in agriculture and well-beings of farmers becomes impossible.
Therefore to address the above observed problems, there is the need to find out how Agricultural Extension Workers in Agricultural Development Programmes, particularly in BOSADP source, organize and disseminate agricultural information to farmers with a view to increasing their agricultural productivity which will consequently improve their standard of living.
1.3 Research Questions
The following research questions were posed to serve as guide to this study;
1 What types of agricultural information do agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme source?
2 What methods do agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme adopt in sourcing agricultural information?
3 How is information sourced by Agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme organized?
4 How do Agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme disseminate information to farmers?
5 What are the challenges affecting information sourcing and dissemination by agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are as follows;
1 To find out the types of agricultural information sourced by agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme.
2 To find out the methods adopted by agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme in sourcing agricultural information.
3 To determine how information sourced by agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme are organized.
4 To find out the ways agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme disseminate information to farmers.
5 To determine the challenges faced by agricultural extension workers in Borno State Agricultural Development Programme in the process of sourcing and disseminating agricultural information to farmers.
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study is significant in the sense that its findings will benefit BOSADP by identifying the prevalent problems faced by agricultural extension workers in their effort to source, organize and disseminate appropriate and timely information to farmers. This will alert the authority of true situational problems militating against effective performance of extension works thereby encouraging the Government and authority of BOSADP to solve the prevailing problems. It will also benefit the Government in making a reliable policy statement on agricultural extension services and hence form a baseline for improvement in the extension work in the state.
The study will add knowledge to the growing literature on agricultural extension services generally, and specifically on BOSADP.
1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study
The Extension Service Department in Borno State Agricultural Development Progeamme is divided into three zones, called Zone 1, Zone 2 and Zone 3, and this study covers all the Zones as its scope. The study covers all the agricultural extension workers in all the zones being the information disseminators to farmers. The study does not intend to cover any other staff as respondent in the Extension Services Department of Borno State Agricultural Development Programme although they support the extension workers in performing their functions.
The limitations of the study are constraints to persistent security threats in Borno State, time and fund which make it difficult to cover every detail in the agricultural extension services in the State.
1.7 Operational Definition of Terms
The key operational terms used in this study are defined as they relate in this research, thus Agricultural Extension Service; is a service vested with responsibility of transferring agricultural information to the farmers and general public enlightenment.
Agricultural Extension Workers; Personnel who sources agricultural information from research experts and other sources of information for onward dissemination to farmers. Farmers; People involved in practical farming activities and the recipients of agricultural information from extension workers.
Information Sourcing; The ways individuals articulate their information needs, source, evaluate, select, and use the information to satisfy some goals,
Information Organization; The technical method of separating the unlike or grouping together of related information sourced in accordance with some common characteristics.
Agricultural Development Programme; Formal governmental organization that provide
different agricultural services to farmers with a view to improve agricultural productivity,