1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Agriculture remains the nation's major economic pillar employing an appreciable number of the total population, mostly on a subsistence/rural level (Asiabaka and Owens, 2002). However, despite the potentialities and prospects of producing food for home consumptions and export, the World Bank's (2015) report showed that maintaining a balance between food and population growth is a serious problem in Nigeria today. According to Agbamu (2005), sequel to the food situation in many developing societies like Nigeria, which are predominantly agricultural, finding how to significantly improve productivity among the rural farmers in these countries has become one of the two or three most urgent questions confronting the international development community today.
In achieving this, extension education would have to be taken seriously by such societies. The term extension education was derived from the practice of British Universities of having one educational programme within the premises of the University and another away from the University premises. The programme conducted outside the University premises was described as “extension education”. The expression connoted an extension of knowledge from the university premises to places and people far beyond. The term “extension education” has since been popularized in the United States, where in the early part of the 20th century, the idea attained the status of a movement. Extension is concerned with two the dissemination of useful and practical information relating to agriculture and home economics and the practical application of such knowledge to farm and home situations.
These services where carried out in informal atmosphere with adults as the main clientele (Obibuaku, 2013). Extension education can be said to be an applied behavioural science, the knowledge of which is applied to bring about desirable changes in the behavioural complex of human beings usually through various strategies and programmes of change and by applying the latest scientific and technological innovations acquired (Sharma, 2005). Extension education has now been developed as a full- fledged discipline both in the agricultural sector and beyond, having its own philosophy, objectives, principles, methods and techniques which must be understood by every extension worker and others connected with the agricultural rural development (Sharma, 2005).
Prior to the World Bank’s intervention in agricultural extension education in Nigeria, Eremie (2003) asserted that the Government had tried various forms of the bureaucratic approach for the management of extension services in agriculture. In addition to this Agricultural responsibility, the extension agent was the representative of the government in his area, distributing agricultural inputs and performing regulatory functions in other to improve rural farming and production. The focus of the bureaucratic system was the achievement of some agricultural objectives, as was the case in the decades of rural commodity development for cocoa, groundnuts, palm produce and robber. Similarly, the farm settlement schemes of the 1960s, the National Accelerated Food Production Programme, the River Basin Development Authorities, the Operation Feed the Nation and the Green Revolution Programmes, all initiated in the 1970s, and the Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) programme of 1986, relied on a bureaucratic extension system.
World Bank support to the Government of Nigeria for agricultural extension dated back to the mid-1970s with the establishment of the nine enclave Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs) in Funtua, Gusau, Gombe, Lafia, Ayangba, Bida, Ilorin, Oyo North and Ekiti-Akoko between 1975 and 2003. By the mid 1970s, there was increasing concern in Nigeria over the apparent stagnation of agricultural production especially in the rural areas. The agricultural development projects were designed to tackle three major constraints: generation and dissemination of improved technologies, supply of productive inputs and feeder roads to link the rural farms with markets.
1.2. STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
Successive governments in Nigeria seemed to have recognized the importance of agricultural extension education for the development of rural farming. This could be seen in the involvement of both Federal and State governments in the formulation and implementation of agricultural development policies and programmes with extension components so as to boost agricultural development in the rural arease that has greatly diminished overtime as a result of the over dependency on crude oil. This was to increase the productivity and level of income of the farmers, but not many farmers benefited from these programmes as the programmes were not properly planned and executed (Ali, 2003). In most cases, farmers who constituted extension clients were not involved in planning the extension programmes (Benor and Bartex, 2006). Ineffective agricultural extension services are a major constrain to the performance of the agricultural sector (Forth National Development Plan, (1985); Ega, (1988); in Ali, (2003)). One of the serious problems in Nigeria was the rate at which available research results were transferred to farmers (Ogonfawara, (1981), in Novokhi, (2003)).It is based on these problems that the researcher carried out a research to evaluate the impact of agricultural extension education on rural farmers in Egor local government area of Edo state.
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of the study is to examine the impact of extension education on rural farmers in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study include;
1. To assess the current level of extension services in the agricultural sector of Nigeria.
2. To determine the relationship between effective rural extension services and agricultural development in Nigeria.
3. To examine ways of enhancing agricultural extension education in the rural areas.
4. To examine the challenges to effective extension education in the rural areas
5. To recommend other ways of improving rural agricultural production.
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the effect of extension education on rural farmers in Nigeria?
2. What is the current level of extension services in the agricultural sector of Nigeria?
3. What is the relationship between effective rural extension services and agricultural development in Nigeria?
4. What are the ways of enhancing agricultural extension education in the rural areas?
5. What are the challenges to effective extension education in the rural areas?
6. What are the other ways of improving rural agricultural production?
1.5. RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
H0: Extension education does not have a significant impact on rural farmers in Nigeria.
H1: Extension education has a significant impact on rural farmers in Nigeria.
1.6. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Findings from the study would be f immense importance to the development of rural agricultural development in Nigeria. The study would be of general benefit to students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing a further study on the subject matter.
1.7. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is restricted to the impact of extension education on rural farmers using Egor local government area of a Edo state as a case study.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview)
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8. DEFINITION OF TERMS
AGRICULTURE: the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products cleared the land to use it for agriculture
RURAL DEVELOPMENT: Rural development is the process of improving the quality of life and economic well-being of people living in relatively isolated and sparsely populated areas. Rural development has traditionally centered on the exploitation of land-intensive natural resources such as agriculture and forestry.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION: Agricultural extension is the application of scientific research and knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education. Generally, agricultural extension can be defined as the “delivery of information inputs to farmers.”
EXTENSION EDUCATION: Extension education is the dissemination of useful research findings and ideas among rural people to bring out desirable changes in their social and cultural behavior.
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