AN ASSESSMENT OF THE PERFORMANCE OF AGRICULTRAL EXTENSION WORKERS AMONG SMALL HOLDER FARMERS: A CASE STUDY OF FARMERS’ MULTIPURPOSE COOPERATIVE SOCIETIES LIMITED IN EZEAGU LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA OF ENUGU STATE

ABSTRACT
This study evaluates the role of Extension Agents in enhancing the performance of Farmers’ Multipurpose Cooperatives Societies (FMCS). The small scale farmers are grappling with numerous problems which have adversely affected their performance. They joined FMCS in order to solve those problems.  Meanwhile,        they still face some of those problems. A total of 50 FMCS were selected   which 100 members were selected. The officers were purposively selected while members were randomly selected. Simple statistical analyses were utilized in the analysis. The results are follows. Most of the cooperators are males, married and no educational background. They aged 25 – 50 years, family size of between 5 and 8, they are on fulltime basis and produce mostly crops. They had their income when they joined the cooperatives because they obtained loan used in expanding the business. They obtained information from fellow cooperatives. They were also taught new skills. The ordinary least square simple regression shows that the number of visits by the Extension Agent determines the level of revenue.

Therefore Extension Agent play major role in enhancing revenue through increased output. Among the problems that they faced was lack of agricultural machineries and implement, late arrivals of outputs, and high degree if illiteracy amongst them. This researcher recommends making available machineries and implement, early arrivals inputs and intensification of non-formal education for the cooperators to widen their scope of knowledge.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1       Background of the Study
A major problem facing Nigeria today is how to produce enough food for its geometrically increasing population. The level of food production in the country is barely keeping pace with the population growth. The general food situation in Nigeria has been precarious since the early 1970s. The rate of growth in demand for food in Nigeria in the 1970s was 3.7 percent per annum (Food and Agriculture Organization rate (FAO) 2007.
In the past two decades the gap between demand and supply of food in Nigeria increased considerably. According to Enugu State blue print on Agricultural policy and program (2006) the population growth in Enugu State is 4332750 persons, which is out pacing food production. To increase production for the increasing population, farmers decide to join cooperative societies. According to Mgbada (2002) observed that the formation of farmers cooperative societies has helped members work together to solve their problems in respect of inputs, credits and marketing of their products.

A look at the Nigerian agricultural sector shows that there is every need for something to be done in the area of production for meaningful development to be achieved. The technological revolution has brought about several changes in the structure of agriculture and that is why some agricultural development programmes were initiated by successive government to boost food production. They are:-

Agricultural Development Project (ADP) 1972

Federal Ministry of Agriculture which was created in 1973, it was charged with developing agriculture.

National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) of 1973.

River Basin Development Authority (RBDA) 1974.

In 1976, Obasanjo administration launched operation

feed the Nation with the hope that food production would increase. His successor Alhaji Shehu Shargari introduced the Green Revolution in 1980, as at the end of February 1983, a staggering sum of #1.2 million had been spent on the programme without any visible increase in food production. Time international (1983).

Also launched were Directorate of Food Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI) of 1987. The Nigerian Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) of 1992 and later was scrapped Umebali (2004). The facilities such as 18 agricultural commodity Research institutions, 44 agricultural input and services. Mention should be made of Nigerian Agricultural and Cooperative Bank Limited now Nigerian Agricultural Cooperative and Rural Development Bank and that of rural banking known as Nigeria Micro-Finance Banks. All with the hope that food production would increase.

In Nigeria, farming activities are dominantly performed by individual farmers or household farmers. There is no doubt that the small scale farmers constitutes an important and in invaluable sector on Nigeria economy. The small scale farmers are very efficient in the utilization of the basic production resources available to them. The Nigerian small scale farmers do make significant and important contribution in National economy.

Despite these obvious role played by the small farmers in the economy, the issue of food production is fast into perennial problem. Madu (2004) stated that the record in recent years in many African countries with respect to agricultural production has not been good. Ozowa (2004) observed that a country that is self–sufficient in food production enjoys reasonable measure of power status to certain degree in the work. This according to him is because a country that produces enough food for domestic consumption and excess for export enjoys economic advantages and can utilize food effectively, as power weapon or foreign policy. This self-sufficiency in food production can only be achieved if Nigerian’s greater population that is made up of rural dwellers is mobilized both men and women.

The FAO report of 2000 agreed that a nation of rural people must spend most of its manpower and energy in the endless quest for food, and that is only when men and women could be released from its struggle for food its would be possible to produce the other amenities. That result in high standard of living.

Unfortunately, the farming conduction of the producers the rural farmers has been made worse by the nature of their faming implement and tools. “He at most always works to the edge of poverty eking out a living as best he knows. Madu (2005).

Moreover, in spite of various scientific methods and programmes involved in solving these individual farmers problem in order to boost food production. It has been discovered that the rate at which population growth was faster than that if food production. Malthus (1992) argued that a stage would come when food supply would not match population growth. Although modern economist has proven Malthus theory wrong especially in Europe and other advanced countries due to development in technical knowledge and mechanization of agriculture coupled with changes in social status attitude as regards to the size of family, good supply has never exceed the population size. However, Malthus theory cannot be said to be anything less that true as far as developing countries like Nigeria, Zambia and Niger Republic are concerned.

However, to solve the individual farmers problems Agricultural Extension Agents has to come in. This Agency is responsible for extending the scientific knowledge, improving the skills, practices and changing the attitudes of rural farmer and also increasing their incomes and standard of living by their own efforts, using their own resources of manpower and material with the minimum of assistance from government. By encouraging local leadership and a spirit of self help, extension develops civil pride and the progressive growth of the community. But the ministry responsible for the extension of this noble idea has not lived up to expectation with innovation and practices. Hence, other agencies such as Farmers’ Multi-purpose cooperative have be organized by the extension services to serve as channels through which farmers could be helped to accept improved farm technology on sustained basis. Farmers multi-purpose cooperative society therefore not only serve the farmers interest in their specific objectives such as marketing, process, transport etc. But also the interest of the community and the country by developing quantities of leadership and organization in their members. Very often problems that are common to a number of individuals farmers can be solved by a group that is cooperatives. The over coming of obstacles to improves living conditions of rural farmers frequently depends on well organized joint actions (cooperatives) in which the people (farmers) take part both in the proposed action. A well organized cooperative society representing a considerable body of people is able to bring its vies to the notice of government thereby reducing the gap that often exist between government and the farmers....

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Attribute: 84 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
Format: MS Word  |  Price: N3,000  |  Delivery: Within 30Mins.
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