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This study analyzed Agricultural Communication for Improving Productivity among Rural Farmers in Odeda Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria. The research problem was the persistent low agricultural productivity in Nigeria, as a result of lack of access to adequate agricultural information by the rural farmers to their improve productivity. It looked at the Communication methods being used by the Ogun State
Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP) to pass relevant Agricultural Information to its rural farmers, to improve Productivity. It also examined how farmers access Agricultural Information, and the challenges being faced by OGADEP and the farmers, in passing, as well as, receiving the information respectively. Four research questions were generated for the study. In collecting data, both qualitative and quantitative methods were used. Survey research and structured interviews were adopted. The population of the study was in three categories; rural farmers in Odeda, extension agents in the area and the OGADEP information officer in the State: 3,155, five (5), and one (1) respectively. Three Hundred and Fifteen (315) rural farmers in this local government, five Extension Agents, covering the areas under the LGA and the OGADEP Information Officer formed the population of the study. It adopted stratified sampling under the probability sampling method. Data were collected through both primary and secondary sources. Questionnaires and face-to-face interview were used to collect primary data for the study. The findings revealed that Extension Agents (EAs), and the Mass Media, are the main Methods being used by OGADEP in passing Agricultural Information to the rural farmers. Findings also showed that the Mass Media and the EAs were the major sources of Agricultural Information for the farmers. The result also revealed the various challenges being encountered in passing and accessing information by the EAs and the farmers respectively and their suggested solutions. Also, the farmers preferred getting their information from sources, with immediate feedback. The Study recommended that there should be improved communication as a means of ensuring farmers get access to Agricultural Information.
Due to the challenges of hunger, unemployment as well as poverty, and the continuous increase in population, which characterise the Nigerian nation, the need to ensure food security through agricultural sector is being agitated by various levels of government. It is believed that, if Nigeria, as a nation, can again get it rightful place in Agriculture, most of its present problems will be solved. This is because, agriculture, in the past, has proved, not only to feed the country, but generate revenues for the government to carry out its various developmental programmes, in addition to providing employment opportunities for the citizen. It is thus, no wonder that today, several steps are being taken to fast track agricultural development in the country.
However, in ensuring this, the importance of information in facilitating agricultural development cannot be under estimated. Dissemination of appropriate information to farmers from places, like, Research Institutes, Universities, as well as relevant authorities in the area, using the right communication methods, is very important, if the utilizers of the information (the farmers) must make meaning out of it and respond as intended. The accessibility of information by these farmers, especially those in the rural areas, has been identified by various scholars (Sharma, 2003; Oyekunle, 2011; Arokoyo, 2012), as one of the major factors, militating against development of agriculture in Nigeria today. The use of effective communication to promote agricultural development is being advocated for by stakeholders, as, it has been identified, that, no development programme can succeed without the effective use of communication.
Agricultural communication therefore, is the effective transfer of agricultural innovations from Technology developers, to the end users, that is, the farmers. For this transfer of information to be effective and the desired result achieved, it requires the use of appropriate methods or channels, in order to elicit the desired response from the intended beneficiaries (Farmers in this instance). Thus, communication has a vital role to play in any efforts towards ensuring improved rural productivity. Dissemination of information using the right communication technology is very important, if the receiver must make a meaning out of the messages being received (Oyekunle, 2011).
One of the functions of the media, among other numerous ones, is to educate the public on issue, ranging from developmental issues, programmes and projects of the Government, through a medium or media. Realizing the importance of communication, in the development of any society, the Nigerian Government at all levels, at one time, or the other, made mass use of the media of communication, to disseminate important messages to mobilize the people, towards a particular programme or policy. This tactic has been applied to Agricultural sectors over time. Programmes like the Operation Feed the Nation, and the Back to Land of the 70’s by the Military Government of General Olusegun Obasanjo (Rtd.), were some of the programmes that the government have employed the use of the media for mobilization of the populace to go back to land, that is, the farms (the target being towards food security) (Sa’adatu, 1993).
According to Obatolu, (2002) in Oyekunle (2011), the success of any developmental oriented programme or project is dependent on the effective, and efficient means by which beneficiaries and participants are sensitized and motivated for change. Thus, to
achieve the goal of mass mobilization, attitudinal change and participation, the use of an effective and efficient communication approach is imperative.
Agriculture used to be the main stream of the economy in Nigeria, before the discovery of oil in 1956. So many developmental programmes and projects that are still in existence today were achieved through agricultural sector. In the past, the nation, relied so much on agriculture as the main source of its income. Consequently, so many things went wrong, and subsequent governments have introduced several measures as intervention, to save the situation and return the country back to its ‘good old days’, when there were abundant of groundnuts in the North, cocoa in the West and Palm kernel in the East. However all these agricultural development intervention programmes have yielded no positive results.
Among the programmes that had been experimented with were; Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) of the then Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo, launched in 1976, the River Basin and Rural Development Authorities also in 1976, the Green Revolution of 1980, as well as the World Bank-funded Agricultural Development Projects (ADP). However, none of these initiatives have been able to yield the desired results. Inspite of all the nation’s enormous resources, Nigeria as a nation still cannot feed herself, not to talk of exporting for revenue generation; rather it relies mostly on importing large quantity of food to feed herself (Akpan, 2002).
Agricultural researchers have adduced various reasons for these problems. Topmost is lack of information or poor communication, which is believed to be one of the major factors responsible for low agricultural production in Nigeria. The availability of this information (to the farmers) is a major issue. Limited or lack of access to agricultural
information has been identified as the most serious constrain to agricultural development in Nigeria. Are the people that assigned the responsibility of disseminating the information passing it? In what manner? All these are the problems associated to effective passage of agricultural information to the farmers, which in turn leads to low productivity and subsequently affecting the development of agricultural sector. The research therefore, problem was the persistent low agricultural productivity in Nigeria, as a result of lack of access to adequate agricultural information by the rural farmers to their improve productivity. It is thus important that information reach the farmers when he or she needs it, using appropriate communication strategies, in order to reinforce a new behaviour, so that, it can become part of his or her routine. Rural farmers in Odeda Local Government Area of Ogun State, like any of their counterpart across the country, have been identified as having challenges of low productivity, due to lack of access to necessary information. To tackle this challenge, the responsibility thus rest on the concerned body saddled with agricultural information dissemination to adopt various communication strategies that will ensure farmers’ access to adequate information. Thus, rural farmers are expected to have access to agricultural information that will provide them with necessary knowledge to overcome such challenges.
This study, focused on the availability of agricultural information in Odeda Local Government Area, analyzed the agricultural communication for improving productivity among rural farmer in the study area and investigated the challenges that hinder these farmers from accessing agricultural information for improved productivity as well as identified the preferred communication methods by these rural farmers.
The general objective of the study is to analyze the agricultural communication for improving productivity among rural farmers in Ogun State, with particular reference to farmers in Odeda Local Government Area of the State. The specific objectives are to:
The study attempts to answer the following questions:
One of the major goals of communication is to pass information across to the end user and for the end user to adequately receive and comprehend the intended messages and use as appropriate. This, to a large extent, determine, the success of any developmental programme or project, that is, the ability of the beneficiaries of such programmes to successfully have access to, and, understand the necessary information being passed across to them, as well as, use such, as it is intended.
According to agricultural researchers, various agricultural programmes, projects and even policies of the Nigeria Government at all levels had failed in the past to achieve the desired results, hence the need to analyse the communication strategies that are being adopted by the relevant stakeholders to communicate to the rural farmers, and also, the medium of communication these farmers have access to, or, prefer, as well as the impact of such communication strategies in the overall achievement of improved productivity. The identification of the right communication strategies for the rural farmers will assist relevant stakeholders in the agricultural sector to know the effective and appropriate communication strategies, with a view to reaching more potential rural farmers. It is also expected that this will assist, in no small way, the OGADEP through its extension services to possibly re-appraise its communication strategies to achieve its desired goals.
As the findings of this study identified the constraints and challenges of farmers in accessing information, solutions can be adopted by the relevant authorities to checkmate such challenges in subsequent activities. The findings will assist the farmers to further understand the importance of accessing information for better yield, improved productivity and income. Furthermore, this study reveals other researchable problems militating against easy access to information by rural farmers (if any).
The communication activities of the Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP) were used as case study for this thesis, while the rural farmers in Odeda LGA of Ogun State were focused on. In order to get the desired results, the study was carried out among the target groups –the rural farmers, the Extension Agents and the Information Officer of OGADEP.
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