Extension started as just extension with the aim of disseminating information to people who were not privileged to taste the four wall of the classroom.
Extension was first used in connection will education over 150 years ago to describe the method of spreading knowledge.
THE MEANING OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION
Agricultural extension can be defined as an advice and assistance given to the farmers and his families through educational procedures on new farming methods and techniques in order to improve their production efficiency and income bettering their level of living and up lifting the education and social standard of the farmers.
Essentially Agricultural extension provide farmers the scientific knowledge so that, they could solve their problems. It is also the primary means of change, the reason for change, the value of change the results you can achieved, the process by which the it is arrived at and also the uncertainties inherent in this change.
It help the farmers to learn about what alternatives that exist in farming so that they can choose the best alternative for them selves
It encourages the people to;
- Discuss the condition under which they live.
- ii. To obtain a clearer inside to their problems.
- iii. It encourages people to decide how to over come this problem either individually or collectively in order to achieve better standard of living.
HISTORY AND BACKGROUND
Agricultural Development since Independence, the 1962-1968 development plan was Nigeria’s first National plan. Among several objectives, it emphasized the introduction of more modern agricultural methods through farm settlements, co-operatives (nucleus) plantations; supply of improved implements (e.g hydraulic hand presses for oil palm processing) and a greatly expanded agricultural extension service.
Some of the specialized development schemes initiated or implemented during this period include:
(i) Farm settlement scheme
(ii) National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP), Launched in 1972.
There were also a number of agricultural development intervention experiments, notably
- Operation Feed the Nation launched in 1976.
- River Basin and Rural Development Authorities established in 1976.
- Green Revolution programme, inaugurated in 1980.
- The world Bank-Funded Agricultural Development project.
While each of the above programmes sought to improve food production, the ADPs represented the first major practical demonstration of the integrated approach to agricultural development in Nigeria.
The experiment which stated with world Bank funding, with projects at Funtua (1974) Gusau (1974) and Gombe (1974), blossomed into Ayangba (1977), Lafia (1977), Bida (1979), Ilorin (1980), Ekiti-Akoko (1981)and Oyo-North (1982) agricultural development projects. Following successful negotiations for multistate agricultural development projects with the world Bank each state of the country, and the Federal Capital, Abuja, now has one ADP. The years since the early 1960s have also witnessed the establishment of several agricultural research institutes and their extension research liaison services. Some of the major institutes are
Agricultural extension and research stock production and fisheries production in Nigeria.
THE EVOLUTIONARY DEVELOPMENT OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION NIGERIA:
The Nigeria National Agricultural extension system has evolved over four centuries from a rudimentary, export crop-focused service to what can now be described as a professional service even if its effectiveness and efficiency remain just average at best. The evolutionary development of the Nigeria’s extension service can be grouped into three major Eras Viz:
i) The colonial and immediate post independence Era 1893-1968.
ii) The Oil Boom Era: 1970-1979.
iii) The state-wide Agricultural development project (ADP) Era: 1980-present.
The main features of the extension strategies/approaches that characterized the three phases are described briefly below:
1. The colonial and immediate post-independence Era: 1893-1968:
The extension strategies and approaches, which characterized this period included;
A. The colonial commodity extension approach: the early part of this era-1893-1921 marked the beginning of scientific agricultural in Nigeria and the beginning of direct government involvement in agricultural development. The agricultural policy of the colonial government was primary focused on encouraging only export crops like cocoa, rubber, palm oil, cotton and groundnut to support the agro-industries in Europe. The extension strategy was clearly a commodity approach with some enforcement component. Extension delivery even at this embryonic stage has the dual but conflicting roles of education and law enforcement;
B. The Ministry of Agriculture approach: This started with the establishment of the agricultural research stations in Samaru (1921), Umudike (1923), and Moor plantation (1924) along with the Regional Ministries of Agriculture in the North, East and West. The extension approach was diffused, non-focused, combining advocacy and advisory roses with input and credit distribution, and regulatory functions. A major feature of the approach was the compartmentalization of the service into the various sectors-agriculture, forestry, fisheries, livestock etc, with parallel extension services.
C. The revitalized Commodity Extension Strategy: (post independence). Again, the emphasis was on selected export crops-cocoa in the old West Region, oil palm in the East, and groundnut in the North. There was an obvious neglect of the food crops to the detriment of the nation.
D. The farm settlement/ from institute Leaver’s Extension Strategy (1959-1965): This was a community development concept to entice young school leavers to farming as a career and to serve as models for concentrated extension services. Unfortunately, the scheme failed to achieves objectives because of exogenous assumptions in design and mismanagement.
The strategies adopted during the Era failed largely because:
- planning was top-down with no involvement of the clientele
- Little or no linkage with research in all the approaches resulting in the development of inappropriate technologies.
- Conflicting roles of extension –education and law enforcement.
- A flawed extension philosophy which saw the farmers as “traditional, fatalistic, ignorant and resistant” to change.
2. “Oil Boom” Era; 1970-1979:
The near absence of a dynamic research and an effective extension strategy for food crop production in the earlier era was worsened by the oil boom, which turned out to be an “oil doom” for agriculture. The major extension approaches of the era includes:
a) The National Accelerated Food Production Program: The (NAFPP) was a well conceptualized strategy which incorporated research, extension and input supply (through a network of agro-service centres) and farmers only minimally involved in participatory technology development.
b) Operation Feed the Nation (OFN): This program was introduced in 1976 as a strategy to substantially increase food production. Unfortunately however, there was nothing in the program that can be identified, as an articulated extension strategy and thus, it died a natural death.
c) The River Basin Development Authority (RBDA) strategies: Although the RBDAs were established in 1977 for the exploitation of water resources for irrigation. Extension responsibilities were not assigned to them about 1984/85, to provide extension services to farmers in heir catchments area. They used the diffused Ministry of Agriculture approach but because of their poor performance, their extension responsibilities were removed;
d) The Green Revolution: This approach was premised on the Asia success story, and was launched in 1979 to replace the OFN with the primary objective to achieve food self-sufficiency for Nigeria in five years. Similar to the ministry extension strategy, it also place emphasis on input supply, improvement of infrastructure and provision of price incentives. The strategy/approach failed due to lack of focus and diversification of efforts that could not be sustained.
e) The Pilot (Enclave) Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs): The ADP extension system was based on the premise that a combination of essential factors comprising of the right technology, effective extension, access to physical production-enhancing inputs, adequate market and other infrastructure facilities are essential to get agriculture moving (FACU, 1986). They started out as pilot projects in Funtua, Gombe and Gusau in 1975. success led to establishment of the enclave ADPs in six more states. All initially employed Training and Visit (T&V) extension delivery approach. This strategy closed the oil boom era.
The myriad of approaches, which followed one another in quick successions, left the rural populace probably more confused even though there was some noticeable marginal increases in food production in the operational area of the ADPs.
3. The state-wide ADP Era: 1984-Present:
This phase of the extension service was characterized by the rapid growth of the ADP concept and reached national coverage by 1989 and had full responsibility for extension delivery at the grassroots. Common to all were an autonomous project management unit, on adaptive research component input delivery system, rural infrastructure component for rural feeder roads and water supply and a systematic extension delivery using basically the Training and Visit Extension approach as propounded by Benor and Baxter and Promoted by the world Bank in Nigeria and other developing countries. Apart from the “one-size fits all concept” of the strategy, it has proved to be very regimented, and expensive hence the serious management problems after the withdrawal of the world Bank support to the projects. It has never the less helped to professionalized extension delivery in the country.
Although the strategy was crop-biased on introduction, this major defect was corrected in 1989 with the introduction of the Unified Agricultural Extension Services (UAES) which made provision for the inclusion to the other sectors, Viz; livestock, fisheries, forestry, natural resource management etc thus, one village extension agent (VEA) is expected to deliver extension messages in all agricultural disciplines (sub-sectors) to the farmers. This was informed by the need to remove the problems of conflicting messages to the clientele by multiple agents. It was also expected to make the system move cost-effective by eliminating duplication of efforts.
This extension strategy remains basically top-down in approach and the farmer also still basically remains a passive receptor of information, which may not necessary meet his needs. His involvement and participation in technology development remains low.
CURRENT EXTENSION DELIVERY AND MANAGEMENT AND MAJOR ACTORS IN NIGERIA:
This agricultural development programs (ADPS) nationwide remain the main agencies responsible for public extension service delivery at the grassroots. A recent trend especially since the new democratic dispensation, is the involvement of the local governments in extension delivery, in collaboration with the ADPs. The quality of staff and the resources of the local government are such that they have only been able to make minimal impact.
While the various modified forms of the training and visit (T&V) extension system remain the basic strategy for public extension delivery, the Research Extension – Farmer-Input-Linkage System (REFILS) is the management mechanism that has been used to identify and bring together the stakeholders in agriculture development as equal partners in development. It provides the structure and mechanisms for collaboration in technology generation, adaptation, dissemination and utilization with clear roles and responsibilities for all partners. Although the REFILS has strengthened the traditionally weak research-extension linkage, private sector participation still remains low just as the farmers involvement, especially in the research agenda and planning for technology development. The major actors and partners include the states ADPPs (in collaboration with the LGAs in some states) who are responsible to grassroots extension delivery nationwide; the National Agricultural Research System, responsible primarily for technology development and the private sector made up of both the commercial organization (responsible for the provision of essential inputs and services including credit and marketing) and the Non-Governmental organizations, the latest entrants to agricultural extension services delivery. The REFILS also include the government for policy direction even though the policies over the past several decades have neither been friendly nor consistent to sufficiently encourage significant private-sector involvement in meaningful sustainable agricultural development. Of special mention are two partners in REFILS-the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) of Ahmadu Bello University and the projects coordination Unit (PCU) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. While the NAERLS is responsible for the provision of extension specialist support service to the ADPs, the PCU is responsible for the co-ordination, Monitoring and evaluation of their extension delivery activities.The PCU, It must be mentioned is amalgam of the former Federal Agricultural coordinating Unit and the Agricultural project Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (APMEU), both the Federal Department of Agriculture. Of course, the farmer remains the most important stakeholder and centerpiece of REFILS. A major feature of the Nigeria agricultural Extension Service in the recent past is the entrance of Non-governmental Organization in extension delivery in Nigeria. These NGOs fall into two major group, Via:
The non-profit, charity or faith- based NGOs or community/ commodity based NGOs and the private commercial organizations, which have, profit motive associated with their activities.
These NGOs in the agricultural and rural development sector, provide a wide range of extension education and technical support services including micro-credit financing and supply of essential inputs in several communities in the country. A nation-wide study by NEST (1992) revealed that a majority of the NGOs in Nigeria are engaged in agricultural production.
It is interesting to note that the sectoral disparity in terms of focus and emphasis in the public extension service (crops Vs the others) is also reflected in the public extension services (56% NGOs in crops, 14% in livestock and 19% in fisheries).
Examples of the private commercial organizations providing extension services include: the shell petroleum company (shell petroleum extension project), the British American Tobacco (BAT), and ADCOT Niger Delta Oil exploratory areas are community-development oriented, public relations outfits, those of BAT and AFCOT are principally commodity-targeted out growers schemes to ensure adequate raw materials for their companies.
The importance of credit either in kind or cash or both and the timely provision of essential production enhancing inputs have been amply demonstrated as part of an effective and efficient extension service by these commercial organizations.
Examples of the non-profit NGOs include: the Development Education Centre (DEC) which provides extension support to women to organize themselves into grassroots level self-help association in South-Eastern Nigeria; the women’s Advancement Network (WOFAN) in the North-West, promoting income generation activities among rural women; the farmer Development Union (FADU) and the faith-based Diocesan Agricultural Development Project (DADP) in South-Western Nigeria which aims at poverty alleviation among small- scale farmer (Arokoyo, et al, 2000). Unique in this group is the international NGO, Sasakawa-Global 2000 which not only works in very close collaboration with the ADPs, but actually uses the already established structures of the ADPs including selected staff who are seconded to the organization.
Although approaches used by most of the NGOs are generally more participatory, their linkage with both NARS and the public extension service, (except in the case of SG-2002), remain weak (Arokoyo,et al, 2002).
The early Agricultural extension system experimented the pre-independence and immediate post-independence ones as Lugarians and commodity-focused system largely neglected by the farmer.
The Nigeria extension service has failed to acknowledge farmers into an effective lobby because of the experience which has an emphasis on what the government can do for the farmer rather than what the farmer can organized to do for them selves. No matter how the extension strategies, no significant impact will be made into technology adoption until the issue of production enhancing input is addressed through deliberate and attractive policy option on improvement in extension delivery, as characterized the present ADP extension system, it is necessary to appreciate agricultural extension as a purely educational process. This requires the complete separation of future extension system from any attachment to civil service agencies and regulation.
Consideration Should be given to linking future extension to the university which should be mandated to collaborate with NGOs and international development agencies.
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