Agriculture supports the livelihoods of rural people in developing countries, including Nigeria. Agriculture is the mainstay and driver of the Nigerian rural economy. Despite the critical role of agriculture in Nigeria, poor access to extension support services persists. The study was carried out to evaluate the challenges of private sector participation on the provision of agricultural extension services and agricultural productivity in Ijebu Ode. A total of 70 extension officers and 99 farmers were sampled from Ijebu Ode using a stratified random sampling approach. Secondary information sources such as national and county ministries’ reports and existing literature were reviewed to supplement the primary data. A questionnaire was the main tool used for data collection in this study. Data obtained were analyzed through: descriptive and inferential statistics; binary logistic regression; linear regression; and stochastic frontier analysis. The logit binary model showed that age of household, gender, education, income, and size of the land were important factors that influenced farmers’ awareness of the privatization of agricultural extension services. Further, this study established that most of the sampled respondents reported insufficient performance in extension service provision by the private sector due to challenges such as inadequate transport, salaries not paid on time, lack of proper staff promotion, lack of clear terms of service without duplication, unconducive work environment, and low facilitation for extension activities. There is minimal interaction between agricultural extension functions run by county and national governments due to the minimal involvement of county extension staff in the development and implementation of the work plans as well as monitoring and supervision at the national level. For example, the sampled smallholder maize farmers who had access to agricultural extension services had their yield productivity increase by 16.4%. The privatization of agricultural extension services resulted in a significant improvement in agricultural productivity and farmer’s income by 27.2% and 13.8%, respectively. This study recommends that more campaigns with focus on women's groups and elderly farmers should be held in the vast Ijebu Ode to create awareness about the privatization of agricultural extension services. Greater involvement of extension staff in development and implementation of work plan at the national level as well as monitoring/supervision should be enhanced in order to contribute to better interactions between national government and private sectors. Also, there is a need to provide incentives to extension officers through adequate facilitation, remuneration, and promotion. Therefore, adequate funds should be allocated to the devolved agricultural extension services, for example, a specified percentage of the agriculture sector budget as a way of enhancing overall agricultural productivity and households’ incomes.

• Background Information
Agriculture supports the livelihoods of rural people in developing countries (World Bank, 2021). The contribution of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in sub- Saharan Africa is approximately 30% (Jayne & Sanchez, 2021). In developing countries, more than 90% of the rural population depends on rain-fed agriculture for food security and income (Hlophe-Ginindza & Mpandeli, 2021). The contribution of the agriculture sector to the GDP in East Africa is about 40%, being a source of livelihood for approximately 80% of the region’s residents (Amwata et al., 2018; Amwata, 2020). In Nigeria, agriculture (practiced by approximately 75% of the rural population) is mainly rain-fed and geared towards subsistence purposes (Kogo et al., 2021). The sector accounts for 33% of GDP and 80% of national rural employment (GOK, 2019). According to Nigeria's Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth Strategy, agriculture may be a very effective means of enabling people to earn a living and a useful tool for the country's economic development (GOK, 2019). The Nigeria Vision 2030, together with the Big Four Agenda, recognizes the agriculture sector as an economic pillar focused on the promotion of food security and employment creation (Wanderi & Makandi, 2019). Consequently, it influences the country’s poverty incidence levels, nutrition and health, as well as the overall quality of life (Ayieko et al., 2021). In order to achieve its goals, the agriculture sector should be supported with respect to productivity (MOALF & C, 2017).

It is generally agreed that the provision of agricultural extension services can enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria (Kogo et al., 2021). Agricultural extension can support and facilitate people who are engaged in agriculture through the provision of agro- advisories, bridging the skills and technology gaps for improved livelihoods and well- being (GOK, 2019). Extension services may involve both government agencies as well as private sector actors. In some cases, extension is also provided by NGO’s and producers/farmers organizations. Extension can extend research and technology knowledge to rural farmers, which by extension can improve their welfare. Modern extension services include technology transfer, facilitation, training/learning, linkages to markets and enhancement of partnerships for the benefit of farmers (Davis, 2008). According to the Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA), agricultural extension is considered a useful tool in poverty alleviation (MOALF&C, 2017). Consequently, the declining effectiveness of the public extension service can be considered as a major factor that impedes agricultural growth and development. The Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture (SRA) (GOK 2004), proposed key reforms in the extension systems geared towards linkages between research and technology generation points, the extension system and farmers - the final beneficiaries. The Strategy for Revitalizing Agriculture proposed six policy areas that were to be given first-hand priority - public extension system being among them (Alex et al., 2002; Katz, 2002). There is an ongoing debate that private extension service is more efficient than public extension in service delivery.

Agricultural extension systems in many countries were established with the aim of strengthening their food system (Swanson 2006; Hu et al., 2009). With the support of international organizations, most Asian developing countries (as well as many others around the world) were able to improve their food security by the 1980s (Swanson, 2006). Due to reduction in budgetary allocation in agriculture, many countries were later forced to reform their public extension systems by reducing the numbers of extension workers (Umali & Schwartz, 1994; Feder et al., 1999). In Europe, most reforms were implemented through privatization; while in other countries (e.g. Uganda) they took the form of both decentralization and commercialization (Anderson & Feder, 2004; Rivera, 2004; Hu et al., 2009). With the introduction of privatization, access to public agricultural extension services was reported to be lost in some cases (Anderson & Feder, 2004). It is argued that due to market and system failures, both buyers and sellers experience constraints in effecting transactions and establishing the necessary relationships to engage in demand-driven innovation processes (Klerkx & Leeuwis, 2008). According to Hu et al. (2009), reforms such as commercialization were responsible for greater adoption of new farming technologies such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers in China.

In most African countries, extension services were focused on increasing agricultural productivity, farmers’ training, and technology transfers (Dhehibi et al., 2020). Some of the approaches that extension services adopted included the Integrated Rural Development Program, training and visit and farmer field schools. In Africa, agricultural extension was reported to have had a significant and positive effect on farmers' knowledge and skills, the adoption of superior technologies, and an increase in productivity (Danso-Abbeam et al., 2018). In Ghana and Mali, use of extension approaches such as FFS was, however, argued to have been an elite driven activity that excluded the poor and less educated (Davis, 2008).

Agricultural extension history in Nigeria dates back to the early 1900s (Cheruiyot, 2020). The first remarkable success of agricultural extension in Nigeria was introduction of hybrid maize technology in the 1960s and 1970s through integrated approaches and projects (Nagarajan et al., 2019). The integrated approach that Nigeria adopted had shortcomings of ineffective management, inappropriate coordination, poor communication among project implementers and low engagement of the community (Ngigi & Busolo, 2019). According to Olayemi et al. (2021), use of the T&V approach in agricultural extension helped in improving the quality of staff (officers) through training and establishment of enhanced linkages in Nigeria. However, T&V approach was implemented among the more educated and productive farmers in better-off areas. Due to poor development of T&V approach, the system did not incorporate the voices of farmers, thereby resulting in a lack of accountability and unresponsiveness to the needs of farmers. Consequently, sustainable agricultural productivity impact was not recorded, let alone the existence of a positive return on the investment (Gautam & Anderson, 1999).

In 1992, Nigeria implemented liberalization and structural reforms, and the funding and delivery of extension services became a combination of public and private arrangements (Nissanke, 2019). This included contracting of public extension workers, NGO’s, farmers’ organizations, and private sector. The privatization and commercialization of extension offer great potential, but in order to benefit resource-poor farmers, it requires testing strategies that are participatory, location-specific, and most importantly, flexible and dynamic to local stakeholder needs and resource limits (Davidson, 2007). Governments are working hard to make sure agricultural extension is demand-driven in an effort to deliver effective and efficient services to rural communities. This means tailoring the information, advice, and services to the expressed demands of the recipients (Rivera, 2004). Studies have shown that reforms in agricultural extension are required to ensure that farmer’s priorities and conditions are given preference (Davidson, 2007).

According to Kingiri (2021), smallholder farmers have traditionally benefited from government extension systems (through the ministry of Agriculture) as well as commodity-based systems (through the government parastatals, out-grower companies, and cooperatives). The main targets of agricultural extension are both food crops and livestock. Some of the extension models and styles that the Nigerian government has tried include the progressive farmer model approach, integrated agricultural rural development approach, farm management, T&V, attachment of officers to organizations, farming systems approaches, and FFS (Rivera et al., 2001; Amwata et al., 2018). The commodity- based extension model focuses mainly on commercial cash crops. The commodity-based extension model is profit-driven and only works well when all the stakeholders adequately benefit from the expenditures of the extension service. In the commodity- based extension model, all aspects of production and marketing are coordinated vertically (Siankwilimba et al., 2022).

The performance of the public agricultural extension service in Nigeria has been a subject of discussion for years (Gautam & Anderson, 1999). The agricultural extension service has been perceived as a top-down approach, with extension officers designing extension programmes without farmers' involvement. Quite often, these officers tend to apply these designs to different regions without considering the different agro-ecological zones. It is considered a major contributor to the poor performance of the agricultural sector (Republic of Nigeria, 2005). Consequently, there has been an effort to reform the public agricultural extension service in order to make it cost effective, broad-based, participatory, sustainable, accountable, and responsive to farmers’ needs. Smallholder farmers do not only require advice necessary for increased productivity, but also linkages to markets, support in value addition, and diversification of incomes.

Due to the ineffectiveness of the public extension system, private agricultural extension systems have gained increasing popularity (Anderson, 2020). These extension systems comprise private companies, non-governmental (NGOs) and farmers’ organizations (Nambiro et al., 2005; Rees et al., 2000). The privatization concept is aimed at increasing the participation of the private sector. With the emergence of private agricultural extension systems in agriculture, a number of concerns have emerged regarding their strengths and weaknesses. An additional concern relates to the role of the government in the private agricultural extension system. To respond to these concerns, the government has been forced to revise the national extension policy through the National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy (NASEP) and its implementation framework (GOK, 2011).

Prior to ushering in the devolved government on March 4th, 2013, following the enactment of the Nigerian Constitution in the year 2010, the agriculture sector comprised of ten (10) separate sub-sectors, namely: crops, livestock, fisheries, land, water, cooperatives and marketing, environment and natural resources, regional development, and development of ASAL’s. The privatization of extension services is aimed at taking the services closer to the people and ensures effective service delivery (GOK, 2011). The main setbacks of agricultural extension service in Nigeria include inadequate funding, poor staffing and lack of involvement of farmer in planning (Rivera, 2004). In the devolved system, private sectors have the mandate to provide extension services and authority to levy taxes on the services they provide (GOK, 2011). The effectiveness of the devolved extension system is dependent on farmer awareness, access to information, and the affordability of extension services (Ragasa et al., 2015). This responsibility is not only for the private sectors but also the national government. This can be achieved through coordination between the two levels of government. More clarity on the roles of each party is crucial. So far, both the private sectors and the national government have put in place adequate measures to be able to grow and develop the agriculture sector in the country (Wafula & Odula, 2018).

• Statement of the Problem
There is documented empirical evidence of a relationship between decentralization and service delivery (Ahmad et al., 2008; Besley et al., 2007; Freinkman & Plekhanov, 2009; Kannan, 2013). Unfortunately, most studies have focused on developed countries and a few on selected developing countries of Asia and Latin America. The relationship between decentralization and service delivery in the context of sub-Saharan Africa and particularly in Nigeria is scarce (Balunywa et al., 2014; Tshukudu, 2014). A good extension system is the one that istailored to the local context (GOK, 2012). The governance system in Nigeria is dedicated to making privatization work thereby encouraging local participation in planning and development program of the government. The citizens are also expected to facilitate service delivery through taxes (GOK, 2011). It follows that it is more reasonable to design programs that fully satisfy the farmers if they are to pay for extension services given to them. The privatization of agricultural sector in Nigeria presents an opportunity to increase farmer participation as well as ensure that extension services are delivered in a way that benefit farmers to the maximum. Unfortunately, the agricultural sector faces challenges; extension officers are few and not adequately facilitated; they are unable to reach many farmers (GOK, 2011). There is inadequate literature on this topic leading to significant knowledge gaps as far as the challenges of private sector participation on delivery of agricultural extension services and agricultural productivity in Ijebu Ode is concerned. Given the importance of extension services as a tool for improved household food security and income, this study is therefore justified, urgent and very critical.

• Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the challenges of private sector participation on delivery of agricultural extension services and agricultural productivity in Ijebu Ode.

• Objectives of the Study
The specific objectives of the study were:

• To assess the influence of socio-economic factors on farmers’ awareness of privatization of agricultural extension services

• To determine the factors influencing delivery of extension services by the Private sector of Ijebu Ode

• To establish the interactions between agricultural extension functions run by county and national governments

• To assess the impact of agricultural extension services to the farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes before (2012) and after privatization (2016/2017).

• Hypotheses
The following hypotheses guided this current study.

Ho1: There is no significant influence of socio-economic factors on farmers’ awareness of privatization of agricultural extension services

Ho2: There are no factors influencing the delivery of extension services by the private sectors after privatization

Ho3: There is no significant interaction between agricultural extension functions run by county and national governments

Ho4: There is no significant contribution of privatization of agricultural extension services to the farmer’s agricultural productivity and income.

• Significance of the Study
This study aimed at providing useful information to a number of actors in the agriculture industry as follows:

• Farmers: the farmers will have enhanced awareness on how to maximize the use of devolved agricultural extension services to improve their agricultural productivity and income.

• Private sectors: will have facts to redesign their County Integrated Development Plans (CIDP) and enhance agricultural productivity of the county.

• Extension officers: more clear structures will be established to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and to provide farmers with tailor made services based on real needs.

• Academia: develop relevant academic programmes and short courses to extension officers based on the level of awareness of farmers on privatization of agriculture.

• Policy makers: Have access to scientific facts for review of existing or development of new policies to strengthen extension service delivery in the county.

• Scope of the Study
A wide variety of crops exist in Ijebu Ode, for subsistence and commercial purposes. The major food crops include beans, maize, bananas, fruits, vegetables, millet, sorghum, green grams and cassava, among others. This study only focused on maize, the main staple food and the most commonly grown by farmers in order to understand the impact of privatization on maize productivity by farmer’s in Ijebu Ode.

• Assumptions of the Study
The study assumed that although most responses are based on recall rather than written records, the information obtained was generally accurate. The study also assumed minimum variation in climatic conditions in the county. It was also assumed that the government policy, economic environment and culture offered synergy on the privatization of agriculture in the study area. The study also assumed that the privatization of agriculture extension services took place uniformly in the county.

• Limitations of the Study
The poor road infrastructure and rugged terrain were a challenge during data collection and visits to the extension officers and farmers by the researcher. These challenges were circumvented by using a motorcycle to navigate the rough terrain and access most of the remote areas.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 99 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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