1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Agriculture with its positive impact on the Nigerian populace is faced with myriad of problems among which is low utilization of technologies. The low utilization of technologies by the farmers may be ascribed to inadequacy of information. Information, in a broad context refers to organized data recorded in various forms (Yahaya, 2003). Information could also be messages that are perceivable and recognizable value to the receiver. Information is therefore a raw resource for knowledge. In the agricultural sector, arable farmers need information about their farming activities.
Aina (1989) stated that lack of information on modern agricultural technology is a key factor limiting agricultural development in Nigeria. Low accessibility to agricultural information leads to low adoption of improved technologies, which invariably affects farmers‟ productivity and could lead to poverty (Ozowa, 2005). Utilisation of improved farm practices requires adequate information, which has to be effectively disseminated so that the clientele receives it, understands it and regards it as a valid basis for action. For instance, while it has been established that farmers use various media sources (Keregero, 1993), it is where farmers seek information that they also find information relating to agricultural practices ranging from agronomic, processing and storage, which are of tremendous importance to the success of arable farmers. The choice usually lies with the source of the message to be transmitted; it must be knowledgeable about a particular channel of communication before employing it. The undisputable fact is that different channels perform different functions in the transmission of information on farm matters (agricultural development), depending on the stage of adoption process, the characteristics of innovation, the socio – economic and personal characteristics of audience (Farinde, 1991; Njoku, 1990). Farinde (1991) and Farinde and Jibowo (1994), have established that the effectiveness of any communication channel depends most in particular on its selection as an appropriate channel or medium of communication. Hence a better way of understanding information utilization is to determine the sources of such information. The selection depends on the size and type of audience, the characteristics of methods, e.g. cost of procurement, complexity, availability and feedback potential (Farinde, 1991). Any system initiating and stimulating development has a responsibility to provide and disseminate information about its activities to make the people knowledgeable about things happening around them, and also generate in them the right attitudes and encourage the adoption of desirable value systems.
In agriculture, the role of information cannot be over emphasized in enhancing the agricultural development. Information is crucial for increasing agricultural production and improving marketing & distribution strategies (Oladele, 2006). Communication is critical to finding solution to problems of food production through facilitating research- farmer linkage using ICTs (Dauda et al., 2010). Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are foundation of the new global information based economy. They are increasingly becoming the key drivers for socio-economic growth. Notably the role of information in farming is significantly meant to reduce the influences of risk and uncertainty-related factors. Bala and Sharma (2008) and Singh et al. (2011) argue that to compete the global market today, our farmers should have latest information regarding new techniques of farming, new methods of cultivation, new crops, seeds, pesticides, water management, marketing of the product, government policies regarding agriculture, export potential of their crops. Information and knowledge are very vital in agricultural development of any community, non-availability of basic agricultural knowledge and information for Arable crop producers in Edo and Delta State as a result of certain problem will enable these farmers stick to their old traditional ways of farming system hence resulting in poor crop productivity. Also in situation whereby the farmers lack access to knowledge and information that would help to foster them in achieving maximum agricultural yield, they are not only grope in the dark but are driven to big cities in search of formal employment, as the only option for survival (Munyua, 2000). Blait (1996) speculated that the least expensive input for improved agricultural development is adequate access to knowledge and information in areas of new agricultural technologies, early warning systems (drought, pests, diseases etc), improved seedlings, fertilizer, credit, market prices etc. There have been short-comings of traditional print and library based methods of providing such agricultural information to arable crop producers whom are likely low standard and relatively remote from access to information (e.g. extension stations, libraries). In the past decades, Nigeria’s agricultural sector has experienced steady decline in productivity. However, in recent time, indices has showed that the sector have started witnessing a gradual but slow growth (Oladipo, 2013). This growth was necessitated by population growth, changing climate and technology needs (Henri-Ukoha et al., 2012). These technologies are innovations such as ICT facilities, mechanized farming equipments, improved and high yielding varieties, and integrated pest management control, post harvest technologies, efficiency in land use, among others. Access to information technology is highly gotten by these and can only be made available ti them through extension workers, state and local government and community libraries (ADP, ENADEP etc) Telecommons Development Group, 2000).
Arable crops; they are crops which are cultivated on ploughed land. Agronomically arable crops can be grouped as follows:- cereal crops; e.g. maize and wheat. Legume crops; e.g. cowpea and groundnut. Root and tuber crops e.g. cassava and yam. Fibre crop; e.g. cotton and jute. Stimulant crops; e.g. tobacco. Some arable crops are prevalent in Edo and Delta State.
Maize (Zea Mays .L.); Maize is also known as “Indian crop” or “simple corn”. It is a cereal crop that is grown widely throughout the world (Anon, 1993). Maize is produced annually than any other grain. About 50 species exist and consist of different colours, textures, grain shapes and sizes. White and yellow varieties are preferred by people in Edo and Delta State. Maize is the most important cereal crop in this region. All part of the crop can be used. Maize can be used for the following purposes:-
As a staple human food, maize is a stable food in Edo and Delta State. It is eaten as boiled or roasted maize. Corn meal and cornflakes are examples of food products made for human consumption. Maize is however unsuitable for bread making as it is deficient in gluten.
As feed for livestock, it is the cheapest and most palatable carbonaceous feed for animals such as pigs, cattle, sheep and poultry. Most of the maize crop is fed to livestock as grain, silage or fodder on the farms where it is produced. It is relatively high in fat and starch but is low in proteins. It is therefore essential to feed it together with protein feed to provide a balanced diet.
Corn starch, corn oil, corn syrup and corn sugar are the chief industrial products obtain from maize. Corn starch, is universal food stuff. It is used for starching clothes, in the manufacture of asbestos, ceramics, dyes, plastics, oil cloths and linoleum. Corn oil is used in the manufacture of soaps, vanishes, paints and other similar products. Corn syrup is used in shoe polish and in tobacco industry. Corn sugar is used in the manufacture of jams and jellies, chemicals, dyes and explosives.
Other minor uses include the use of stalks and leaves for making paper, paper board and wall-board. (Remison, 2004).
Cassava (Manihot Esculenta); Cassava is a perennial woody shrub with an edible root. It is the major source of dietary energy for low-income consumers in Edo and Delta State. It is rich in carbohydrates, calcium, vitamins B and C, and essential minerals. However, nutrient composition differs according to variety and age of the harvested crop and soil conditions, climate, and other environmental factors during cultivation (Remison, 2004). Cassava is a subsistence crop grown for the following purposes:-
Human consumption, Garri, a free flowing granular meal, is consumed in a variety of way. Other cassava meals include “Elubo” from cassava flour, “Fufu” which is boiled and pounded cassava. Tapioca is made from cassava, it is wet or partially dried sieve starch particles heated with continuous stirring. Tapioca is used for puddings, biscuits and confectionery.
As livestock feed, cassava chips can be used to compound animal feed because of high energy content. Its used to feed pigs & cattle. Its very affordable.
Cassava starch is also an important industrial raw material; it is used in laundering and in the manufacture of many products. Beer and other alcoholic can be made from cassava. (Remison, Ewanlen and Okaka, 2002).
Cocoyam (colocasia esculenta (L.) Taro)
(Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Tannia)
Cocoyams are herbaceous perennial plants belonging to the family Araceae and are grown primarily for their edible roots, although all parts of the plants are edible. Its edible roots are starchy. Cocoyam can be used for the following purposes:-
Human consumption via cooking, frying, roasting or baking. Processed into flour by peeling, slicing, drying the slices and milling the dried slices. The flour is used for various food preparations.
The young leaves are used as vegetables in some places. Cooking removes the calcium oxalate, which causes acridity in the leaves and tubers. The leaves, corms and cormels can be used as animal feed. (Remison, 2004).
Yam (Dioscorea spp); Yams are perennial herbaceous vines cultivated for the consumption of his starchy tuber. (Igbokwe, Onaku and Opara. 1988). Yams are primary agricultural and culturally important commodity in Edo and Delta State. Some varieties of these tubers can be stored up to six months without refrigeration, which makes them a valuable resource for the yearly period of food scarcity at the beginning of the wet season.
Dioscorea rotundata, the ‘white yam’ and Dioscorea cayenensis, the ‘yellow yam’ are native to Africa and are preferred by Edo and Delta State Arable crop farmers. Yams can be used for various purposes:-
Mainly for human consumption as they provide a cheap source of carbohydrate. The most common forms of yam consumption are as boiled yam, pounded yam, roasted yam, fried or baked yam.
Wild species have been used as a source material for the manufacture of oral contraceptives (Remison, 2004).
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Over the years, Arable crop farmers depend on indigenous or local knowledge for improved farming system. Such knowledge (indigenous or local knowledge) refers to skill and experience gained through oral tradition and practice over many generations (Norem, et al., 1988). Acquisition of such primitive skill by our rural farmers (e.g. rural farmers in Edo and Delta State) has not helped to improve agricultural produce. All that is witnessed in our rural agricultural system range from low farm yield, crop failure due to diseases, resistant plant weeds and pests that attack arable crops, old farm implements, poor quality fertilizers etc. Agricultural information are always meant to get to rural farmers through information sources like extension workers, community libraries, radio, television, film shows, agricultural pamphlets, state and local government agricultural agencies etc. Lack of useful information could lead to poverty because farmers’ productivity will be affected (Ozowa, 2005). Low accessibility to agricultural information also leads to poor communication linkage between extension farmers-research and consultations between policy makers, policy analysts, and policy beneficiaries on agricultural and rural development policy issues.
Rural farmers in their effort to access these agricultural knowledge and information from available sources, for better farming system and improved agricultural yield, are confronted with certain constraints. The present study was therefore designed to identify the constraints which hinder arable crop farmers in Edo and Delta state from accessing agricultural information for improved crop production.
The research questions now are:
What are the socio-economic characteristics of arable crop farmers in Edo and Delta State?
What are the respondent’s access, preference and frequency of use of agricultural information sources?
What are the respondent awareness level, adoption status of technologies and competent in the use of technology?
What are the motivation factors of the use of agricultural information sources?
What are the constraints the respondent’s face in arable crop farming and the use of agricultural information source?
1.3 Objectives of the study
The broad objective of the study is to access utilization of information by arable crop farmers in Edo and Delta State Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
describe the socio-economic characteristics of arable crop farmers in Edo and Delta States;
identify information sources used by arable crop farmers in Edo and Delta State;
ascertain the respondent awareness level, adoption status of technologies and competent in the use of technologies;
examine respondents’ access, preference and frequency use of agricultural information sources;
identify motivational factors for the use of Agricultural information sources; and
ascertain the constraints the respondents face in arable crop farming and the use of agricultural information sources.
1.4 Hypotheses for the Study
There is no significant relationship between socio-economic characteristics of respondents and motivational factors for their use of agricultural information sources.
Motivational factors do not significantly affect respondents’ preference and frequency of use of ICTs agricultural information sourcing.
There is no significant relationship between respondent awareness level, adoption technology and the constraints faced in arable crop farming.
There is no significant relationship between socio-economic characteristics of respondent and the constraints faced in arable crop farming.
There is no significant relationship between the respondents’ socio-economic characteristics and constraints faced in the use of information sources.
This study was primarily necessitated by the advantages inherent in the roles played by arable crop farmers in the growth of agricultural economy and how effective communication of agricultural technology can enhance the productivity of arable crop farmers’ operators.
Developing technologies for arable farm operators to adopt is not enough, but effort should be geared towards making arable farm operators to understand the importance of utilization of improved technologies. To bring about agricultural development, the provision of agricultural information plays a decisive role. Presently besides the indigenous farm experience, Government designed programs contribute to provide agricultural information in order to improve the yield of arable crop producer hence giving the farmers a better life.
All development carriers like extension services, NGOs and other development agencies involved in agricultural development, especially in resettlement program, must be aware of the need to understand the constraints and factors influencing the level of the access to and utilization of agricultural information and understand the gaps to take remedial action. The importance of agriculture in the economy of Nigeria is profound. Despite the growth of industries, oil and commerce it continues to be the principal economic activity of the people of Nigeria. Thus 70% of the people are engaged in agriculture but more than 70% of these farms at subsistence level (Okubanjo, 1990; Nigeria millennium Development Report, 2004). The Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO (1993) suggested that in order to enhance agricultural development, new commodities and new methods of production must be developed. In Nigeria, there are various agencies, research institutes, agricultural universities/colleges and non-governmental organizations that generate innovations and improved farm practices or technologies (Ilevbaoje, 1998). The primary function of the dissemination component (agricultural extension, agricultural change agencies, private extension organizations, etc.) is the transformation of the agricultural sector of the national economy through promotion of rapid adoption and utilization of improved farming technologies by the utilization component – the farmers (Ilevbaoje, 1998).
According to CTA (1996), Ozowa (1997) and Conroy (2003) the quantum of agricultural technology information available in the Nigerian systems developed by research institutes and faculties of agriculture in universities is quite enormous. The problem therefore, lies with effective dissemination of information about these innovations by the dissemination agencies. Research institutes must disseminate their findings to the target group – the farmers, while receiving feed back to indicate that communication was successful. The feedback is expected to expose areas requiring modification or further enquiry. Agricultural information disseminated by different information sources need to be determined. It is imperative therefore to identify the sources of agricultural information utilized by farmers.