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This, study was conducted to assess Internet use for extension communication among the agricultural research institutes and farmers in the north-west. Two agricultural research institutes in the North-West zone of Nigeria were selected for the study namely: National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) and Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR). An investigation using a survey research method was adopted for the study. The research sample consisted of 200 researchers and technical staff, as well as 100 farmers aged in the age range 20yrs – 60years. The farmers were chosen from 5 states, i.e, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa and Zamfara states. Purposive sampling method was used in selecting the respondents. Data collected was analysed using simple descriptive statistics. Findings from the study revealed that 90% of respondents attested that the institutes have functional Internet facilities, even though with a poor service which tend to limit its effectiveness for agricultural extension. Also, 39-55% affirmed that the two research institutes does not use their internet for agricultural extension purposes but uses the Internet in the area of researches as confirmed by over 80% of the respondents. However, 52% of the farmers lack Internet skill as well as access to the Internet. More so 65% of farmers oppose the Internet as alternative source of agricultural information. Similarly, 75% of respondents identified that factors militating against the effective use of Internet for agricultural extension were:- lack of: Internet connectivity to farmers, Internet skills by some stakeholders, poor network, and frequent power failure. Further more, majority of respondents suggested the following solutions to enhance the use of Internet for extension communication: Internet connectivity to all stakeholders, increased bandwidth, staff/farmers training on Internet usage, regular subscription as well as power supply. The study concluded that Internet can offer opportunities for strengthening research – extension systems in Nigeria even though its advantages are yet to be realized due to the stated reasons above. The study recommended that; Agricultural stakeholders ie extension agents, research institutes and input agencies should make effort to have access by providing Internet facilities, train their staff in Internet skills, this will encourage two-way communication (downloading, uploading, interaction, question and answer for agricultural extension purposes. Also they should design awareness campaigns to sensitize the agricultural stakeholders on the possible uses of Internet services for extension communication.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION Pages
1.1 The study background – – – – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the problem – – – – – – – 3
1.3 The research objectives – – – – – – – – 5
1.4 The research questions – – – – – – – – 5
1.5 Significance of the study – – – – – – – 6
1.6 Scope & Delimitation of the study – – – – – – 7
1.7 Operational definitions – – – – – – – 7
CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW
2.0 Introduction – – – – – – – – – 9
2.1 ICT policy on Agriculture in Nigeria – – – – – 9
2.2 The Internet – – – – – – – – – 10
2.3 Opportunities of Internet for Extension Communication – – – 12
2.4 Challenges of Internet use for Agricultural Extension – – – 17
2.5 Empirical Studies – – – – – – – – 20
2.6 Theoretical framework – – – – – – – 22
2.7 Conceptual Framework – – – – – – – 25
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
3.1 Introduction – – – – – – – – – 26
3.2 The study area – – – – – – – – 26
3.3 The study population – – – – – – – 28
3.4 Sampling technique – – – – – – – 28
3.5 The study variables – – – – – – – – 29
3.6 Method of data collection – – – – – – – 30
3.7 Instruments for data collection – – – – – – – 31
3.8 Validity and Reliability – – – – – – – 31
3.9 Methods of data presentation – – – – – – – 32
CHAPTER FOUR: RESULT & DISCUSSION
4.1 Introduction – – – – – – 33
4.2 Discussion of findings – – – – – 50
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
5.1 Introduction – – – – – – – 55
5.2 Summary – – – – – – – 55
5.3 Conclusion – – – – – – – 57
5.4 Recommendations – – – – – – 59
5.5 Suggestions for further studies – – – – – 60
5.6 Contribution to Knowledge – – – – – 61
Reference – – – – – – – 62
Appendix – – – – – – –
List of Figures
Figure 1: Stakeholders Communication Chain – – – – – 25
Figure 2: Gender of Respondents – – – – – – – 33
Figure 3: Respondents Status – – – – – – – 34
Figure 4: Respondents level of Internet Skill – – – – – 36
Figure 5: Whether the Institutes have functional Internet facilities – – 36
Figure 6: Rating the Institutes Internet facilities – – – – – 37
Figure 7: Assessing the Institutes Web Site – – – – – – 37
Figure 8: Institutes use their web site for Agricultural Extension – – – 38
Figure 9: Opportunities of Internet provides to Agricultural Research Institutes – 39
Figure 10: Institutes hosting completed research projects on their Web Site – 39
Figure 11: The Rate at which the Institutes Update their Web Site – – 40
Figure 12: Respondents knowledge of blogging on the Internet – – 40
Figure 13: Respondents having an Email account. – – – – 41
Figure 14: Rate of checking their Email account – – – – – 41
Figure 15: Respondents Interacting with other Research Institutes via the Internet – 42
Figure 16: Knowledge of various Internet resources for Interacting – – 43
Figure 17: Institutes use of Internet tools for Agric extension – – 43
Figure 18: Types of Internet resources Institutes use for Agricultural Extension – 44
Figure 19: Challenges of Internet use in the Institutes – – – – 44
Figure 20: Ways Internet utilization can be enhanced by the Research Institutes – 45
Figure 21: Best practices for Internet use in agricultural extension – – 46
Figure 22: Educational level of the farmers – – – – – 47
Figure 23: Farmers constraints in using the Internet – – – – 49
List of Tables
Table 1: Age group respondents – – – – – – 34
Table 2: Respondents years of working experience – – – 35
Table 3: Educational level of respondents – – – – – 35
Table 4: Farmers level of Internet awareness – – – – 47
Table 5: Assessing farmers Internet Skill – – – – – 47
Table 6: Farmers access to Internet – – – – – – 48
Table 7: Ever use the Internet to source information – – – 48
Table 8: Internet as alternative source of agric information – – 49
List of Appendices
Appendix A: Letter of Introduction – – – – – –
Appendix B: Questionnaire – – – – – – – –
Appendix C: Farmers Checklist – – – – – – –
1.1 THE STUDY BACKGROUND
A major constraint to agricultural development in Nigeria is lack of inappropriate channels to deliver extension messages. Access to information is one of the most critical resources in agricultural sector, as well as economic development in Nigeria. Farmers need information on opportunities and threats in which the Internet can be of significant in accessing agricultural information. The Internet is one tool that can enhance flow of information between and among agricultural research institutes, Extension Agents (EAs) and the farmers. African, Caribbean and Pacific (CTA, 2003) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO, 1998) defined Internet as one technology involved in collecting, processing, storing, retrieving, disseminating and implementing data and information using microelectronics, optics, telecommunications and computers.
Meera, Jhamtani, and Rao. (2004) noted that Internet can bring new information services to rural areas where farmers (end users) will have much greater access to new agricultural innovations and information, than ever before. Access to such new information source is a crucial requirement for the sustainable development of farming systems. The Internet can be of immense help by enabling extension workers to gather, store, retrieve and disseminate a broad range of information needed by farmers. Van den Ban and Hawkins (1998) argued that in many countries the costs of maintaining full complement of extension agents are increasing progressively while the price of computers in the global market has decreased rapidly. This, therefore, makes the use of Internet for information dissemination more economical.
The aim of research and extension in Nigeria is to help farmers increase their agricultural productivity and so facilitate income generation, development, adoption and evaluation of appropriate agricultural technologies. Salau and Saingbe (2008) opine that Internet is important for networking among and between the key agricultural stakeholders in the Research-Extension-Farmers-Inputs-Linkage System (REFILS). The Research-Extension-Farmer-Input-Linkage System (REFILLS) is basically a strategy to bring together all the key stakeholders in agricultural development: researchers, extension agents, farmers, policy makers and the private sector for the effective management of research and extension delivery for sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria. Extension Communication is information exchange between and among various agricultural stakeholders ie farmers extension agents and agricultural research institutes, is an area in which Internet can have significant impact, research scientists can relate directly with the farmers through the Internet.
Agricultural extension by its nature has an important role in promoting the adoption of new innovations. The trend from supply-driven extension to demand-driven extension requires a new approach, which opens the door for using Internet as a practical communication tool to address the needs and demands of rural population.
Umar (2005) noted that extension services recognized worldwide as a means by which most service oriented organisations can speedily realize their set objectives, has not been accorded the priority attention it deserves. The failure of the various extension delivery approaches to effectively engineer significant and sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria has become a major concern to all agricultural stakeholders. Agricultural Research Institutes are being challenged to deliver research outputs that will improve agriculture in Nigeria; however one obstacle to the realization of this delivery to farmers according to National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) agricultural performers’ survey report, (APS, 2010) is the shortage of Extension Agents (EAs) ratio which stood at 1:2500 farmers. Therefore re-thinking the way agricultural researches is delivered to farmers becomes necessary.
However, the Nigerian agricultural research institutes are coordinated and supervised by the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN), there are 17 agricultural research institutes in Nigeria out of which 4 are based in the North – Western region; namely i) Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) ABU Zaria. ii) National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) ABU Zaria. iii) National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) ABU Zaria. iv). Nigerian Institutes for Tryponosia-Miasis Research, Kaduna. Their mandates were:- to promote the agricultural and related sectors through research, technology development and technology transfer in order to: enhance the natural resource base and environment; sustain a competitive agricultural economy; provide new economic opportunities; ensure high quality and safe food / food security; support an informed society on new agricultural technologies and modern farm practices and encourage the national growth and development of Nigerian agricultural sector.
Going by the institutes’ objectives, with shortage of extension agents who facilitates adoption of new innovations in Nigeria, it is therefore paramount for the agricultural research institutes to effectively utilize the potential of Internet to enhance their activities in terms of information and communication dissemination.
STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Agricultural Research Institutes in Nigeria are facing challenges in the area of extension communication delivery due to a number of reasons among which is shortage of extension workers in Nigeria and inappropriate channels for extension delivery. Extension workers are agents for communicating new agricultural innovation to farmers. The current extension/farmer ratio according National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) (2011) Agricultural Performers Survey (APS) report stood at 1: 3500 farm families, even with these the institutes are required to respond effectively to the demands of policy makers, private sector investors and donor agencies, farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural business. They are being asked to deliver research outputs that will improve agricultural productivity, food security, in order to increase their countries competitiveness in global markets, and contribute to sustainable development. Therefore, this calls for need of agricultural research institutes to prioritize and strategize their responses in-terms of agricultural extension services. Consolata and Evans (2010) opine that Internet offers opportunity to livestock farmers in Tanzania in-terms of accessibility to e-resources, information sharing and feedbacks. In the same vain, Kapange (2002) reported that, Internet is crucial in facilitating extension communication and access to information for agricultural and rural development.
Inspite of many years of research, the agricultural research institutes in Nigeria have not been fully utilizing the Internet particularly web based as information data base for the purpose of food security and agricultural extension delivery in Nigeria (Oduwale, 2004, Bonati and Gelb, 2005, World Bank, 2007). Researches have proved the use of Internet for economic development. Meera, et all (2004) as well as Salau and Saingbe, (2008) opine that access to Internet a is crucial requirement for sustainable agricultural development. However, there were arguments on the use of Internet for agricultural extension. Adeyanju, Haruna and Abubakar, (2011) argued that researchers, extension agents and farmers are yet to take the advantage that the Internet offers due to lack of connectivity and low computer literacy by some stakeholders.
Oduwale (2010) examined the impact of Internet use on agricultural research institute work. His findings did not indicate that the internet is being use for agricultural extension communication. Inspite of this, the Internet can still enhance information exchange among the research institutes, extension agents and farmers. This underscores the need for research on the use of Internet for agricultural extension communication, challenges of inappropriate use of Internet channels and the Internet potentials for agricultural development in Nigeria.
This study therefore seeks to find out the availability of internet facilities in the two selected agricultural research institutes and determine the extent of use of the facilities for agricultural extension purposes and the factors that militate against the effective use of Internet for extension communication.
1.3 THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The aim of the study was to examine the use of Internet for agricultural extension among farmers and the research institutes staff in North-Western Zone, Nigeria.
The specific objectives therefore, were to:
(a) Determine status of Internet facilities in the research institutes in North-West zone.
(b) Examine the level of utilization of Internet facilities for agricultural extension among the agricultural research institutes in the North-West.
(c) Determine the extent of farmer’s use of Internet to source for agricultural information and factors militating against their use in the North-West zone.
(d) Identify the factors militating against effective use of Internet for agricultural extension in the research institutes.
(e) Recommends ways to address the challenges of Internet use by the research institutes and farmers.
1.4 THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The questions addressed in this study therefore are:
1. Do the agricultural research institutes have functional Internet facilities for agricultural extension purposes in the North-West?
2. What is the level of Internet utilization for agricultural extension among the agricultural research institutes in the North-West zone?
3. What is the level of Internet usage by farmers to source for agricultural information in the North-West?
4. What are the constraints against effective use of Internet in the agricultural research institutes in the North-West zone?
5. What are the solutions to the factors identified against the use of Internet for agricultural extension in the North-West?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study was based on the need to find out the nature of Internet use in agricultural research institutes and to determine the most effective way of using the Internet for agricultural extension. Also the study identifies ways on how to enhance the use of Internet for feedback and disseminating research results (2way communication).
The study contributes to the available literature in areas of agricultural extension communication media in the north – western Nigerian. Also, it can serve as benchmark to other researchers in the same field to compare and assess the validity of conclusions reached.
The results, conclusions and recommendations of this study will be useful to the agricultural institutes when using the Internet for research and extension purposes to set up guides for agricultural professionals based on their needs for use of emerging information technologies. Similarly, the study will help fill the gap in knowledge discovered in the empirical studies on the use of Internet for agricultural extension in Nigeria. Findings provide feedback on areas of Internet usage which researchers can engage in for agricultural extension as well as suggested various Internet facilities to engage other stakeholders for agricultural extension. In addition, the results of this study will be beneficial to agricultural research institutes, agricultural researchers, farmers and extension agents for agricultural extension using the internet.
1.6 SCOPE/ DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY
The study is limited to Internet use for agricultural extension in North-West zone of Nigeria. There are seventeen (17) agricultural research institutes in Nigeria, out of which four are located in the North – West precisely Kaduna State, but the study is limited to two agricultural research institutes in North – West Agro-ecological Zone of Nigeria vis: (i) Institute of Agricultural Research (IAR) (ii) National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. The reason for selecting the two institutes is because they have been given the mandates to research on crops and livestock production respectively.
1.7 OPERATIONAL DEFINITION OF KEY TERMS
The following terms have been defined based on their usage in this study.
Internet use: refers to using the internet for accessing research results, communication interaction, and dissemination of research result via the internet.
Agricultural Research Institutes: are industry that developed and promotes the agricultural sectors through research, technology development and technology transfer.
Extension Communication: in the context of this study is a planned programme of services targeted for expanding, strengthening and empowering the capacity of farmers.
Researchers and Technical Staff: defined as people that are responsible for accomplishing the research institutes mandates through research and technology development. Internet Facilities: refers to equipments, platforms, computers, website presence and internet connectivity.
Level of Utilization: determining the level of Internet usage and maintenance of the Internet facilities.
Large Scale farmers: farmers that are cultivating more than five hectares of land for commercial purposes.
Medium Scale farmers: farmers that cultivates between two hectares to five hectares of land for consumption at home or commercial purposes.
Smallholder farmers: the majority of Nigerian farmers cultivating less-than two hectares
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