THE ROLE OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION WORKER IN EDUCATING FARMERS IN PLANTAIN PRODUCTION
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The study examined the role of extension workers in educating farmers and constraints farmers face in plantain production in some selected areas in Edo State, Nigeria. A total of 200 Plantain farmers were randomly selected from the study area. Farmers were interviewed using well structured questionnaire. The total population for the study is 200 staff of selected farms in Edo state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made farm managers, supervisors, farm attendants and farmers were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies
1.1 Background of the study
Plantain belongs to the family Musacea sp and the genus Musa. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, 2 to 9 meter tall with an underground rhizome or corm. The principal species are Musa paradisca (French plantain) Musa acuminate and Musa corniculata (Horn Plantain). The cultivars of plantain are French plantain, French horn plantain, false horn-plantain and horn-plantain. Plantain thrives on a wide range of tropical and sub-tropical climates. It requires an optimum temperature of 300C, mean monthly rainfall of 100mm, pH 4.5 and 7.5 and thrives on sandy loam soils (Faturoti, 2006). Plantain Originated in South India and moved to South East Africa, from where it spread to Central and West Africa, it is believed to be the oldest cultivated fruit in West Central Africa. Plantain is grown as a staple food in 52 countries and worldwide or about 12.5 million acres (Food and Agriculture Organization. Agro stat data base, 2004). World production of plantain was estimated in 1985 at 25 metric tons of this, 19.6 tons was projected for Africa, Latin America was the second place producer at 4.1 million metric tons (IFAD, 2001). Annual production in Nigeria is 1, 855, 000 metric tones (RMDC, 2002). In Nigeria, the false horned type is the most widely distributed because of its ability to tolerate poor soil condition than others (John & Marehel, 1995). In Nigeria, plantain is produced in large quantities in Edo, Delta, Ogun, and Ondo States. Other producing states are River State, Cross River, Imo, Plateau, Kogi, Abia and Enugu. Plantain cultivation is not limited to big plantation but is often grown in small orchards which sometimes go unnoticed (Jirgi and Baba, 2001). Agricultural Extension worker plays an important role in educating farmers on plantain production in the selected areas in Edo State because plantain is important in the diet of many Nigerian families, it is normally eaten in convenient form like “dodo” (fried ripe pulp), chip (fried unripe pulp) and as plantain flour (Akinwumi, 1999), this plantain flour has an advantage over other starchy foods because it contain protein, mineral & vitamins. Medicinally plantain can be used to cure some ailment like sore throat, tonsillitis, diarrhea and vomiting, due to its high nutrients, plantain is used in the production of soymusa, which can be used in the treatment of Kwashiorkor (Idachaba, 1995). In Edo State some agricultural extension activities include the following:
- Getting the farmers into a frame of mind and attitude conducive to acceptance or adoption of technological change. This function is achieved by educating the farmers on newly developed technology and to convince them of the visibility of the new technologies in agriculture.
- Disseminating to the plantain farmers the result of research and to carry the farmer’s problem back to the research system for solution. In order to perform this function properly, effective communication exist among the research institute, the extension agent and the farmers and,
- Helping farmers make wise decision in farm management processes. Extension is a significant tool in assisting the farmers to develop proficiency in the management of his farm and general agricultural advisory services (Agbamu, 2006).
Broadly speaking the role of agricultural extension workers call for the unique blend of skills and attitude. They must have the competence to understand and apply technical information related to their work as well as the ability to diagnose problems and come up with possible solutions such as adopting to new innovation practices. They should plan and organized extension activities and willingness to interact with others. The delivery system that matter most in dealing with farmers are the subject matter specialists who will help in assisting the extension agents in educating the farmers. Extension agents are also involved in farm input distribution (e.g. seed yam, hybrid maize, improved sucker e.t.c.) Which invariably increase output and income generation
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
For the past two decades, the major challenges be deviling developing countries like Nigeria is that of food insufficiency which is dependent on the frequency of extension workers effectiveness. Insufficient education of the farmers involved in plantain production contributes to food production shortage.
The backdrops of plantain production in agricultural extension are itemized in the following research questions:
- What are the social-economic characteristics of plantain farmer in selected Local Government areas in Edo State?
- How does farmers get information on plantain technology in the study Areas?
- What are types of planting material used by the farmers in the selected local Government Areas in Edo State?
- What is the level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers in the study Areas?
- What are the possible constraints faced by farmer in plantain production in some selected Local Government Areas?
1.3 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The major objective of this study is to determine the role of agricultural extension workers in educating the farmers in plantain production in the study area.
Specific objective were to:
- Identify the socio-economic characteristics of farmers in the study areas
b. Ascertain the source of information on plantain technology to the farmers in selected Local Government Areas in Edo state;
- Analyze the level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers;
- Survey the types of planting material used by the farmers and
e. Assess the constraints faced by farmers in plantain production
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher;
H0: there are no socio-economic characteristics of farmers in the study areas
H1: there are socio-economic characteristics of farmers in the study areas
H02: there is no level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers
H2: there is level of adoption of technology in plantain production by the farmers
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
This study, which is primarily aimed at explaining the role of agricultural extension worker in educating farmers in plantain production, will provide an insight into the problems associated with educating farmer in plantain production. This report would be of great benefit for agricultural extension worker, to expose them to educate farmers in plantain production. The findings will be useful for researchers to further generate knowledge in the field
1.6 SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The scope of the study covers the role of agricultural extension worker in educating farmers in plantain production. The researcher encounters some constrain which limited the scope of the study;
- a) AVAILABILITY OF RESEARCH MATERIAL: The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study
- b) TIME: The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.
- c) Organizational privacy: Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
ROLE: A role (also rôle or social role) is a set of connected behaviors, rights, obligations, beliefs, and norms as conceptualized by people in a social situation. It is an expected or free or continuously changing behaviour and may have a given individual social status or social position.
AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION: Agricultural extension is the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education
FARMER: A farmer is a person engaged in agriculture, raising living organisms for food or raw materials. The term usually applies to people who do some combination of raising field crops, orchards, vineyards, poultry, or other livestock.
PLANTAIN PRODUCTION: One of the few agricultural ventures that can be described as a true investment is plantain farming. Plantain farming is one of those ‘fit for all’ businesses that could be run successfully with little attention once it is established. We have all consumed plantain in one form or the other. Actually plantain
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows
Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.
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