1.1 Background of the Study
According to the business dictionary, information is defined as a “Data that has been verified to be accurate and timely. It is specific, organized for a purpose and presented within a context that gives its meaning and relevance which can lead to an increase in understanding and decrease in uncertainty .Reits (2010)defines information need as a gap in a person’s knowledge that,when experienced at the conscious level as a question, gives rise to a search for an answer .information is a fact or knowledge provided or learned as a result of research or study(smith 2001). It is the fact and knowledge needed to answer some question faced by people in their daily life
The world Encyclopedia defines information as an ordered sequence of symbols that can be interpreted as a message. Information is any kind of event that affects the state of a dynamic system. The value of information lies solely in its ability to affect a behaviour, decision or outcome e. a piece of information is considered valueless if, after receiving it, things remain unchanged. Agriculture play an essential role in everyday human activities ranging from the provision of primary needs like food, clothing and shelter to secondary needs like construction, manufacturing etc. while much of the world is still stuck in subsistence agriculture practiced majorly in remote part of the country, a little proportion of agriculture is just being practiced under the light of civilization and modernization. That is to say, farmers in the remote part need to be constantly fed with information, idea, knowledge and skills developed from the Research Institute for better farming practice and eventual increase in yield. Information might be inform of new technology like storage facilities,better farming system like mechanization,access to credit facilities.e.t.c For Agricultural information to be effective, after the information has been conveyed from the donor,i.e Ministry of Agriculture and its subordinate like Research Institute, Agriculture Development Project (ADP) etc, to the target (farmers), a feedback from the receiver to the donor of the information must be accomplished.
Ministry of Agriculture
Agric information tends to connect the Ministry of Agriculture and the farmers. It can be represented in a Venn diagram as below.
Also Agricultural information tend to connect the different Departments of Agriculture by elaborating on how judiciously individual department bye-products can be utilize by another department which will eventually increase the yield of one another. For example, Nitrogen is naturally fixed to the soil by some legumes like Callopogonium Mucunoide. Which will eventually increase the nutritive value of livestock that feed on them. While the excreta of the livestock is used as manure for crops to increase their yield. It can be represented sectorially as below.
The means of transferring Agriculture may be through Extension Agent or through mass media. Media transmit their information electronically with Television, Film, Radio, Movies, CDs, DVDs and some other gadgets like cameras or video consoles. Alternatively, print media uses a physical object as a means of sending their information such as Newspaper, Magazine, Brochures, Newsletters, books, leaflets and pamphlets. Outdoor media is also a form of mass media which comprises billboards, signs, placards placed inside and outside of commercial buildings like Shops/Buses. Public Speaking and event organizing e.g. Demonstration are also considered as mass media.
Mass media have been acclaimed to be a very effective medium for diffusing the scientific knowledge, innovation and technology to the masses. In a country like Nigeria, precisely Edo State, where farmers’ literacy level is low, the choice of communication medium is of vital importance. Radio for example because of its cost (low) and its affordability by virtually all classes of income earners, it can transfer modern Agricultural technology to both literate and illiterate farmers even in interior or remote areas, within short time. Television could serve as a suitable medium of dissemination of farm information and latest technical know-how. The farmers can easily understand the operations, technology and instruction through television. The print media widened the scope of communication. It is cheap and farmers can afford to buy and read them at their convenience. It is a permanent medium in that the message are imprinted permanently with high storage value which makes them suitable for reference and research.
Oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) as the specific name implies is naturally found along the guinea gulf of West Africa which include countries like Cameroon, Cote d’vore, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo, and the equatorial region of Angola and the Congo (FAO)1986. Oil palm is a perennial crop that originated in the South America and Asia in the 16th and 17th Century respectively. It is one of the most productive oil crop and its products ranked high in the list of world’s leading agricultural commodities. Oil palm gives the highest output value compared to major oil seeds like rapeseed, soya bean and sunflower. Rhett (2006) predicted that a single hectare of oil palm may yield 50000 kilograms of crude oil or nearly 6000 litres of crude oil, while soya bean generate only 446 litres per hectare.
Oil palm serves social, economic and environmental purposes. The product which include palm oil, palm kernel oil, palm kernel caked, the palm frond, palm kernel shell etc. These products particularly palm oil is becoming an increasingly important agricultural products for most tropical countries around the world as crude oil prices top $70/barrel. Basiron (2007) observed that palm oil is now the major source of sustainable and renewable raw material for the world’s food, chemical and bio fuel industries. Palm oil can be consumed domestically or serve as raw material for many Agro-based industries for the production of soap, margarine and other ally industries. After the oil has been extracted from the palm kernel, the remains known as the palm kernel cake is used as livestock feed. Also a refreshing drink generally known as palm wine can be tapped from the oil palm tree.
Organic farming has made us realize that the oil palm fruit bunches after being burnt to ashes is good for improving soil alkalinity as against the use of inorganic chemicals which can easily contaminate the edaphic environment and underground water table.
An oil palm tree produces at an economic level for 25 years after which the yield diminishes but if well maintained has a life span of over 35 years. Palm oil became the principal cargo for export in the early 90’s in Nigeria. Nigeria became the largest exporter of palm oil in the world and in 1934 until the country was surpassed by Malaysia and now Indonesia as the largest producer of palm oil. Between 1961 and 1965 world oil palm production was 1.5 million tons, with Nigeria accounting for 43% However, since then, oil palm production in Nigeria has eventually been stagnated. But today, world oil palm production amounts to 14.4 million tons, with Nigeria accounting for only 7%. Kei et al., (1997).
In Nigeria, oil palm production comes from dispersed small holders who harvest semi wild plants and use manual processing techniques. These small holders are spread over on estimated area of 1.65 million hectored in the southern part of Nigeria that is to say palm oil production is majorly carried out in the south along the Niger Delta Area which include states like Edo, Ondo, Delta, Rivers, Imo e.t.c. Udom (1986).Agronomic studies shows planting plantain amidst oil palm plantation is economical i.e. the plantain can be harvested and m arketed in the shorting pending the time the oil palm will be ready for harvesting. This makes plantain a good choice of intercropping in oil palm plantain.
Plantain (Musa spp) occupies a strategic position for rapid food production in Nigeria. It is ranked third among starchy staples. The consumption of plantain has risen tremendously in Nigeria in recent years because of the rapidly increasing urbanization and the great demand for easy and convenient foods by the non-farming urban populations. Besides being the staple for many people in more humid regions, plantain is a delicacy and favored snack for people. A growing industry, mainly plantains chips, is believed to be responsible for the high demand being experienced now in Nigeria. Plantain production in Nigeria has witnessed a steady risk for more than 20years. As at 2004, Nigeria produced 2.103 million tons harvested from 389,000 ha production (FAO, 2006). Plantain is a major source of carbohydrate for more than 50 million Nigerians. In the country, all stages of the fruit (from immature to overripe) are used as a source of food in one form of the other. The immature fruits are peeled, sliced, peeled and made into powder and consumed as plantain fufu. The mature fruits (Ripe or Unripe) are consumed boiled, steamed, batch, pounded, roasted, or sliced into drips. Overripe plantains are processed into beer or spiced with chili pepper, fried with palm oil and served as snack (dodo-Ikire). Industrially, plantain fruit serves as composite in the making of baby food (‘Babena’ and “soyamusa’), bread, biscuit and others (Ogazi, 1996,Akyeampong, 1999).
The fruits are produced all year around, the, major harvest comes in the dry season (November to February), when most other starchy staples are unavailable or difficult to harvest. Thus, it plays an important role in bridging the hunger gap (Wilson 1986). In Nigeria, plantain peels are used as feed for livestock. While the dried peels are used for soap production. The dried leaves, sheath and petioles are used as tying materials, sponges and roofing material.
1.2 Statement of Problem
In Nigeria, the importance of oil palm and plantain industry cannot be underrated based on the vital role they play in human nutrition, source of employment and income generation at large. International Potash Institution (1957) identified the principal product of oil palm to be the palm fruit, which is processed to obtain three main commercial products which include palm oil, palm kernel oil and palm kernel cake. The use of these product which may be locally for consumption by human and livestock or industrially as raw materials for industries like soap, margarine industries etc. while plantain, a major source of carbohydrate for more than 50 million Nigerians (Ogazi, 1996), the unripe plantain is also a major source of iron, and also a delicacy for diabetic patient. However, oil palm and plantain farmers are faced with some problems which have tremendously reduced their produce. Such problems include; Land tenure system problem, Fund problems, Problem of improved planting materials and Pest and disease
The agricultural role of mass media in disseminating agricultural information, innovations and idea in the study area has never been recognized, despite the fact that researchers are still trying to bridge the gap between the research stations and these rural farmers (oil Palm and plantain farmers). This has consequently marginalized agriculture and farming family which resulted to low productivity in spite of the efforts of the mass media in communicating agricultural information to the farmers.
This research therefore, attempts to address some of the following research questions.
Do socio-economic characteristics of the farmers have any influence on the sources of information through mass media?
What are the available mass media that have been used to communicate extension delivery services to the oil palm and plantain farmers?
To which extent are these sources relevant to the oil palm and plantain farmer?
What are the problems the oil palm and plantain farmers face in accessing the mass media sources?
What are the factors that constrain respondents from using mass media.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objective of this study is to examine the roles of mass media in disseminating agricultural information to oil palm and plantain farmers in Edo State while the specific objectives are to:
Examine the socio-economic characteristic of the oil palm and plantain farmers.
Examine the farmers’ accessibility to mass media.
Ascertain mass media type through which respondents sought agricultural information.
Ascertain respondents’ preference for particular type of mass media.
Ascertain respondent perceived role of mass media as information source.
Examine factors that constrain respondents’ use of mass media as information source.
Identify the problems limiting farmers from cultivating oil palm and plantain.
1.4 Research Hypothesis
There is no significant relationship between respondents’ access to mass media and their perception of relevance of mass media as information source.
1.5 Significance of Study
It has been ascertained that mass media play an important role in transmitting information to large number of audience simultaneously. Yet, Okwu and Obinne (2000) have identified the main problem of agriculture in Nigeria as that of transfer of new technology, information, innovations to farmers and not lack of them Per se. It is known that mass media have been making useful contributions to agricultural technology, information and innovations adoption. This study seeks to establish the clear evidence of utilization by both oil palm and plantain farmers in Edo State.
Hence, the recommendations from this study will be useful to policy makers, researchers, ADPs and other stakeholders in Agricultural Development Agencies. This study will provide information which would be useful in solving the problem posed by oil palm and plantain farmers.