1.1 Background of the Study
Agriculture has been recognized as the most important sector of the economy of developing countries. Developments in this sector have therefore, frequently attracted attention of governments, scholars, and citizens of these countries as well as international organizations. This has been particularly true in Nigeria where declining productivity and rising population in the last two decades have led to a growing concern over the need and opportunity for agricultural development (Atala, 2006). However, not enough effort has been invested in research to design and implement effective extension programmes that are appropriate to the needs of the majority rural farmers, who are the producers of the bulk of the country food and raw materials.
Agricultural Extension is an informal educational process which aims to teach farmers how to improve their level of living by their own effort, through making wise use of natural resources at their disposal for better systems of farming and homemaking, for the benefit of the individual, the family, the community and the nation at large. (IAR Extension Roll-Up (2013)
In the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Samaru mandate covering the North-west states, the Agricultural extension services was established to develop and maintain strong research extension farmer linkages for the purpose of effective dissemination of research results to end-user to; Provide knowledge and skill training programmes for extension staff of State Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs), Agricultural agencies and selected farmers through regular Technology Review Meetings (TRMs) and specialized in-service courses, Workshops, Seminars etc., Disseminate Agricultural research-based information to ADPs, Federal and State ministries, agro-industrialist and agricultural producers. Perform community services including consultative diagnostic/advisory services. Collaborate with National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS) and other relevant Institutes and organizations on extensions activities.
There are some components/activities in agricultural extension services, they include:- Technologies Review Meeting (TRMs), Trainings, Cropping Scheme Meeting, Zonal Steering Committee Meeting, Zonal Technical Committee Meeting, Zonal REFILS Workshop, SIWES/ITF Coordination, Diagnostic/Consultative Services, Publications, Radio/T.V. Programmes, Field Days, Farm Walks, Exhibition/Fairs, Agric Shows, Adoption Villages/Demonstration Schools and Monitoring/ Evaluation.
At present, there has been little or no change in the agriculture of Nigeria. About 70% of Nigeria’s estimated population of 140.0 million lives in the rural areas. Although Nigeria is Africa’s second largest economy (after South Africa) with a GDP of about US $40.0 billion, yet, about two-thirds of the population live below the national poverty line (FGN 2006). Nigeria has continued to record huge food deficit on yearly basis. According to FAO (1997), Nigeria is one of the 43 nations in Africa that have been classified as “low income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs)”. Thus, the country thrives only on international assistance in terms of food aids and programmes. Agriculture is still dominated by small holder farmers who are still responsible for a sizeable proportion of total (Olubanjo, 1996). There is currently a low level of use of modern and appropriate technology and much more appropriate methodology for technology dissemination and an attendant high level dependent on nature. Manual labor, simple farm tools and local planting materials among others are still been extensively used.
Nigeria has the largest National Agricultural Research and Extension System (NARES) in Sub Saharan Africa today, made up of: 17 Commodity-based Research Institutes, a specialized National Agricultural Extension Institute, 18 Faculties of Agriculture in regular Federal Universities; 3 specialized Universities of Agriculture, 19 Federal Colleges of Agriculture, 8 Faculties of Veterinary Medicine and four International Agricultural Research Centre (IARC) (Chikwendu, 2009). Yet, there is no significant and sustainable agricultural growth that would ensure national and household food security and improved rural livelihoods. Inadequately trained extension agents, low morale of extension agents due to poor career prospects, as well as poor work environment has been identified as the problems of agricultural extension. The capacity and competence of the few extension agents is highly questionable; hence the need for efficient capacity building system that can withstand the test of time.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The agricultural extension systems in place today are operating simultaneously with other organs of agricultural farming systems without giving enough or attention consideration to information dissemination processes and the roles of agricultural visual instructional materials in agricultural practice. Perhaps the most important aspect of these systems is the fact that little or no empirical evaluation research has been carried out to determine the problems affecting their performances and to propose solutions to them. The agricultural extension systems are fast spreading all over the country even though the success of the previous effort has been inadequate and its replicability on a wider scale in the North-west zone is yet to be ascertained.
The study situation suggests that the role performance of extension agents is problematic and contributes to the general problems in Nigerian agriculture. One of the key issues in the ineffectiveness of Nigerian agricultural extension is impact in the farming systems of the North-West agro-ecology. The roles and impacts of extension materials‟ and agents‟ activities vary and are often ineffective (Atala, 2006). The problem becomes that of explaining the differential roles and impacts of agricultural extension system, and this provides the rational and quest for undertaking this study.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The study sought to know the evaluation and the roles of visual instructional materials in agricultural extension services in the north-west zone of Nigeria. Specifically, the study sought to;
i. examine the components on agricultural instructional materials such as posters, flyers and banners being delivered to farmers.
ii. evaluate the impact of agricultural extension visual instructional materials on the quality of rural agricultural practices and rural life.
iii. assess the role of training agricultural extension agents and farmers on the use of agricultural instructional materials in the North-east zone of Nigeria.
1.4 Research Questions
i. What are the components on agricultural instructional materials such as posters, flyers and banners being delivered to farmers?
ii. What is the impact of agricultural extension visual instructional materials on the quality of rural agricultural practices and rural life?
iii. What is the role of training agricultural extension agents and farmers on the use of agricultural instructional materials in the North-east zone of Nigeria?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.6 Scope/Limitations of the Study
This study is on the evaluation of the roles of visual instructional materials in agricultural extension services in the north-west zone of Nigeria.
Limitations of 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.
1.7 Definition of Terms
Evaluation: The making of a judgment about the amount, number, or value of something; assessment.
Role: An actor’s part in a play, film, etc.
Visual: Is something such as a picture, diagram, or piece of film that is used to show or explain something.
Instructional materials: Refer to the human and non-human materials and facilities that can be used to ease, encourage, improved and promote teaching and learning activities.
Agricultural Extension: Is the application of scientific research and knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education.