ANALYSIS OF VILLAGE EXTENSION AGENTS’ USE OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN EXTENSION SERVICES DELIVERY IN SOUTH-SOUTH, NIGERIA

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ABSTRACT

The imperatives of ICT in extension services delivery necessitated this study that analyzedVillage Extension Agents’ use of information and communication technology in extension service delivery in South-South Nigeria.Specifically, the objectives included to ascertain the socio-economic characteristics of the extension agents, ICT awareness, available ICT facilities, level of ICT knowledge, level of ICT use, benefits from the use of ICT and the constraints to ICT use. The study was guided by the following hypotheses: There is no significant relationship between the socio-economic characteristics of VEAs and their level of ICT use; there is no significant relationship between the level of knowledge and use of ICT by the VEAs; there is no significant difference in the level of use of ICT by VEAs in the selected States; and male and female extension agents do not differ significantly in the level of use of ICT in extension service. A multistage sampling technique was used to select a total of 300VEAs from the study area.Using a set of structured questionnaire,data obtained were analyzed using frequency counts, percentages, mean score, standard deviation, ordinary least square multiple regression (OLS), Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient,z-test and Analysis of Variance. The results showed that majority of the VEAs were male (54.7%), married 89%, had average age of 46 years, household size of 5, tertiary education (87.3%), working experience (30 years) and average monthly income of N60,000. The ICT facilities available to VEAs include phone (GSM), radio, television, video, computer, personal email andinternet and the ones of importance for extension service include phone (GSM), television, radio, computer, video, personal email, personal website, internet, cinema, digital wallet, organizational e-mail, organizational website, and blog. The level of ICT knowledge was high (2.51) while the use was low (2.14). The ICT used included phone (GSM), radio, television, video, computer, personal e-mail and internet. The socio-economic determinants of level of use of ICT were age(t = 4.051), education level(t = 3.708), working experience (t = 2.281) and income (t = 3.930). ANOVA result also shows statistical difference in the level of use of ICT facilities in the three selected States. The constraints to ICT use were lack of internet access in the rural areas, lack of ICT infrastructure, high cost of internet subscription, lack of training on ICT, among others. It was recommended that the pre-service curriculum of prospective VEAs be reviewed with adequate inclusion of ICT courses and capacity building should be organized for VEAs on ICT use through workshops and seminars.

Keywords: VEA, ICTUse, Agricultural Production, Extension Service Delivery.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

Title Page    –        –        –        –        –        –        –                                               i

Certification-        –        –        –        –        –        –                                               ii

Dedication –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        iii

Acknowledgement –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        iv

Abstract      –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        v

Table of Contents –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        vi

List of Tables        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        x

List of Figures      –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        xii

CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION –           –        –        –        –        –        –        –        1

1.1    Background to the Study         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        1

1.2     Statement of the Problem        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        6

1.3      Objective of the Study –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        12

1.4    Hypotheses of the Study (Null) –        –        –        –        –        –        –        13

1.5     Justification of the Study        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        13

1.6     Scope of the Study         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        16

CHAPTER TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW     –        –        –        –        –        –        –        17

2.1    The Term Information and Communication Technology –        –        –        17

2.2      The Potential of ICT in Extension Service –         –        –        –        –        19

2.3     ICT facilities for Extension Service    –        –        –        –        –        –        21

2.3.1 Radio and Television       –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        22

2.3.2 Telephone –           –        –        –        –        –        –        –                            23

2.3.3 Computer    –        –        –        –        –                                                        23

2.3.4 Internet       –        –        –        –        –        –                                               24

2.3.5 Geographic Information System         –        –                                               24

2.3.6 Blogging      –        –        –        –        –        –                                               25

2.3.7 E-Wallet      –        –        –        –        –        –                                               25

2.4      Challenges to Effective Use of ICTs –         –        –        –        –        –        26

2.4.1 High Cost of ICTs –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        26

2.4.2 Infrastructure       –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        26

2.4.3 Language Barrier –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        27

2.4.4 Illiteracy in Rural Communities         –        –        –        –        –        –        27

2.4.5 Inadequate Human Resources –         –        –        –        –        –        –        28

2.5      Institutional Arrangement of Agricultural Extension Practice in Nigeria- 28

2.6     Theoretical Framework –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        30

2.6.1 The Concept of Communication         –        –        –        –        –        –        30

2.7      Communication Model –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        31

2.8     Adoption of New Technologies –         –        –        –        –        –        –        35

2.9     Conceptual Framework –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        37

CHAPTER THREE: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY –           –        –        –        –        –        39

3.1     Study Area –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        39

3.1.1 Akwa-Ibom State –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        40

3.1.2 Bayelsa State        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        41

3.1.3 Cross River State –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        42

3.1.4 Edo State     –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        43

3.1.5 Rivers State –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –                            43

3.1.6 Delta State –          –        –        –        –                                                        44

3.2     Sample and Sampling Procedure                –                                               45

3.3     Method of Data Collection       –        –        –                                               47

3.4     Measurement of Variables       –        –        –                                               49

3.5     Standardization of the Research Instrument                                              50

3.5.1 Validity of the Data Collection Instrument –          –        –        –        –        50

3.5.2 Reliability of the Data Collection Instrument        –        –        –        –        51

3.6    Method of Data Analysis –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        51

CHAPTER FOUR: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION     –        –        –        –        –        –        58

4.1     Socio-Economic Characteristics of VEAs    –        –        –        –        –        58

4.1.1 Age     –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        58

4.1.2 Sex –            –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        59

4.1.3 Marital Status       –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        60

4.1.4 Household Size     –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        61

4.1.5 Religion       –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        62

4.1.6 Education –           –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        63

4.1.7 Working Experience        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        64

4.1.8 Monthly Income    –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        65

4.1.9 Level of ICT Awareness by VEAs        –        –        –        –        –        –        66

4.1.10 Availability of ICT Facilities –           –        –        –        –        –        –        68

4.1.11 VEAs Level of Knowledge of ICT Facilities –         –        –        –        –        70

4.1.12 VEAs Level of ICT Use –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        72

4.1.13 Perceived Benefits from the Use of ICT by VEAs –         –        –        –        76

4.1.14 ICT Facilities deemed Important by VEAs for Extension                            79

4.1.15 Some Technological Attributes of ICTs                                                      83

4.1.16 Constraints to the Use of ICT Facilities by VEAs                                       83

4.2     Hypotheses Testing        –        –        –        –                                               86

4.2.1 Hypothesis 1         –        –        –        –        –                                               86

4.2.2 Hypothesis 2         –        –        –        –        –                                               91

4.2.3 Hypothesis 3         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        92

4.2.4 Hypothesis 4         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        94

CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION        –        –        96

5.1      Summary –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        96

5.2     Conclusion –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –           100

5.3     Recommendation –         –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –           101

Contribution to Knowledge      –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –           102

References –          –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –        –           103

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1.1      BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Most African countries depend on agriculture for their economic growth. International Food and Agricultural Programme (2004) asserted that about 80 percent of the population who live in rural areas of developing nations depend directly on agriculture for their livelihood. However, in recent years, a number of sub-Sahara African countries experienced slow agricultural development. The decline in the agricultural development could be attributed to a number of constraints which include:inappropriate agricultural policies, inadequate information provision, low adoption of agricultural technologies and institutional frameworks (Kiplang‟at, 2003). In addressing the factors that limit agricultural production, Farming Matter (2013) emphasized that the underlying factor is related to information and knowledge. Adetumbi etal. (2013) opined that access to information is one of the most valuable resources in agricultural development.

In Nigeria, agriculture has remained the highest employer of labour. Central Bank of Nigeria (2006) described Nigeria as an agrarian society with about 70 percent of her over 140 million people engaged in agricultural production. The contribution of agriculture to Nigeria‟s gross domestic product (GDP) has been on the increase in recent years. However, agriculture with its positive impact on the Nigeria populace is bedeviled with myriad of problems among which is poor utilization of technologies (Awhareno, Omoregbe & Ekpebu, 2013).

Mojisola et al. (2007) noted that achieving rural and agricultural development is a function of producing knowledgeable and well informed farming communities. This can be achieved with information and communication technologies (ICT) without much stress because of the flexibility and profitability of some of them, such as the mobile phones (Gadzama& Akinola, 2013).

In the last few years, the concept of information and communication technologies (ICTs) has become a global concern of which agricultural development and rural transformation are given the highest priority. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are the technologies that facilitate communication, processing and the transmission of information by electronic means (Omotayo, 2005). However, the major ICT tools or facilities include the radio, television, camera, cinema, computer, internet, CD-ROM, video, telephone, e-mail, website, and search engines. The use of these ICT tools has reduced the world into a global village thus bridging access to professional information from anywhere in the world.

The use of ICT has witnessed an upsurge in recent years in almost all areas of rural life in several African countries despite the persistent problems of access, connectivity, literacy, content and cost (Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation- CTA, 2003). According to Asian Development Bank-ADB (2003), ICT has become a powerful tool in providing developing countries with unprecedented opportunities to meet vital development goals far more effective than before especially with the reduction in government involvement in extension delivery.

Madukwe (2006) and Adeniyi (2010) submit that ICTs may be the only way in which farmers can access a variety of information sources that are accessible, affordable, relevant and reliable. Information on agricultural technologies developed in research institutes take a long time to pass through information processing and disseminating system. ICTs can enhance the integration and efficiency of agricultural systems by opening new communication pathway, given greater accessibility of information on market prices, production and post production technologies.

The potentials of ICTs to make agricultural extension in developing countries more effective appear unassailable. Research studies have shown that most governments in many developing countries have reduced their direct involvement in agricultural service provision (Omotayo, 2005). This scenario has posed a bigger challenge on agricultural extension service to remain relevant and effective in today‟s society,acknowledging the fact that agricultural extension service‟s ultimate goal is provision of affordable, relevant, and reliable agricultural information to the end users – farmers. To make agricultural extension service relevant and effective in the face of government‟s dwindling budgetary allocation, there is urgent need to look out for better alternative sources of information rather than the face-to-face information service. ICT with its vast potentials in every field of human endeavour is the only answer to the threat on agricultural extension services relevance in today‟s world. Richardson(2003) in Omotayo (2005) noted that ICTs have been found as the only way in which agricultural extension can achieve its ultimate goals. If adopted and properly applied, ICTs have the potentials to really transform agricultural extension in developing countries like

Nigeria.Its impact could include:

  1. fast and prompt response to farmers‟ information needs,
  2. affordable, reliable, relevant and location-specific information to farmers,
  1. extension workers will be globally connected and have up-todate information,
  2. farmers will be connected directly by-passing extension workers,
  3. it will become everyday tool of extension workers,
  4. it will help extension workers develop new skills, and
  5. feedback between extension and clientele will greatly improve.

Thus, the application of ICTs in agricultural extension as can be seen from above is almost limitless. The village extension agent (VEA), who is at the bottom of the extension service delivery ladder, has direct contact with the farmers. The village extension agent is saddled with the responsibility of communicating, teaching and educating farming households to improve their living conditions. The village extension agent does this by providing the rural households with relevant and applicable research-based technologies. This is usually accompanied by technical information with which farmers are assisted to understand the potentials of the technologies and acquire the needed skills for their implementation. In order to successfully achieve this feat, the village extension agent employs the use of different communication techniques and devices. Among these is the information and communication technology (ICT) which has changed every aspect of the social, economic and political life of people all around the world. Given the importance of ICT in facilitating effective and timely information delivery, it has witnessed wide application in nearly all human endeavours (Adebowale, 2009). At the inception of the state-wide ADPs in 1980, the extension agent: farmer

(EA:farmer) ratio ranged between 1:2000 to 1:3000. This was expected to drop down to between 1:800 to 1:1000 by the project completion date and the withdrawal of World Bank support (Adejo et al, 2013). This target was never achieved. A field survey by National Agricultural Extension Research Liaison Service (NAERLS) and Programme Coordinating Unit (PCU) shows that the EA: farmer ratio was between 1:848 in Ogun state in South-West Ecological zone to 1:1650 in Katsina state in the North-West Ecological zone (Adejo et al, 2013). It could be seen therefore that no matter how effective extension delivery through village extension agents will be, it can never be efficient and cost-effective in a developing country like Nigeria, with a population of over 150 million (National Population Commission, 2006), majority of who are involved in agriculture and illiterate. It is clear that ICT is the only technology that can bridge this gap in our extension delivery system. From the fore-going, it is expected that extension workers will glide on the vast potentials of ICTs to give communication and information dissemination a new lease.

1.2  STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Agricultural extension systems in most developing countries are under-funded and have had mixed effects. Most extension information have been found to be outdated, irrelevant and not applicable to small farmers‟ needs, leaving such farmers with little or no useful information to improve their productivity (Oloche, 2013). FAO (2007) noted that the rural populace yearn for relevant information to improve their existing living standard. For farmers to move from their crude production system to better and more commercialized farming, they need adequate information on modern agricultural technologies. CTA (2003) noted that efficient information dissemination remains the key to bridge the gap between developed and under-developed countries. Prompt dissemination of relevant and reliable agricultural information remains the biggest challenge confronting agricultural development experts in developing countries. The decision on most farm operations or activities is a function of knowledge and information exchange between and among agricultural extension stakeholders.

Agricultural extension service which involves teaching, research and the transfer of new farming technologies and information to farmers and feedback from farmers is one major area where ICTs can cause a major noticeable turn-around. Research has shown that farmers are in dire need of appropriate learning methods and agricultural information on what to plant, when to plant, how to plant and where to sell their products (FAO, 2007). Poor packaging and inappropriate learning methods seem to be the gap in the effectiveness of agricultural extension service system in Nigeria. Extension workers seem to be battling with the issue of how best to harness the potentials of information and communication technologies (ICTs) to improve farmers‟ productivity. There is need for a paradigm shift in communication and information dissemination channels as in developed countries.

Meera et al. (2004) opined that as a result of the emerging paradigm of agricultural development, old ways of delivering important services to farmers are being challenged; traditional societies are also being transformed into knowledgeable societies all over the world. In India, electronic information dissemination has grown beyond the use of radio and television or projector to the use of computer and internet (cyber extension). Sharma (2007) stated that it is possible using the potential of internet-based technologies to meet the location specific agricultural information needs of the farmers. He also observed that farmers are already using the net for gathering technical advice online from various research sources. Rural farmers can now create their own e-mail accounts and these facilities are for faster communication. But in Nigeria, like in many other African countries, several studies have shown that the most important sources of information to farmers in the decreasing order of importance are extension agents, radio and neighbours/relatives (Awhareno, 2011). Arokoyo (2005) reported that in Nigeria, the national extension service is based on the training and visit (T&V) delivery system, traditionally supported by mobile cinema, video, television, radio and telephone being the only ICT used by majority of extension workers. Agwu et al. (2008) stated that telephone use in extension delivery even with the launch and explosion of the global system of mobile communication (GSM) is very limited as most ADPs even at the headquarters do not have functional lines.

Another study shows that most farmers have access to ICTs in the decreasing order: radio, television, GSM (mobile phone) and computer (Adejo & Haruna, 2009). But a more recent development in Nigeria has shown that GSM is more accessible to the rural people than the television owing to the deregulation of the GSM service provision and proliferation of service providers (Adejo, Edoka & Adejoh, 2013).

Given the importance of ICT in facilitating effective and timely information delivery, it has witnessed wide application in nearly all human endeavours (Adebowale, 2009).From the foregoing, it is clear that some ICT facilities are very much available but the extent to which they are being used by extension functionaries to impact farmers‟ lives is not very clear.

Evidence from other nations of the world have shown that ICTs are networking tools between and among the stakeholders in agriculture. In countries such as Mauritius, Bangladesh, Chile, Mexico, Egypt, Peru, South Africa and Uganda, ICT has played a major role in diffusing information to rural communities and showed even much unexpected potential (Munyua, 2000). In Ghana, Agricultural Information Network (AGRINET) is a project specifically designed for agriculture; it pools information from various institutions (CTA, 2003). In India, extension workers and rural farmers now use internet, website and their personal e-mail account to access and gather technical information from various research sources to improve their production capacity (Sharma, 2007). In Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural

Development, Abuja in collaboration with Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations determined to turn extension workers and rural farmers into internet users, initiated the Farm Radio Network (FRN) in 2004 (Idu & Obinne, 2009). Ten years down the line, it is expected that Nigerian extension workers and rural farmers should have become „fans‟ of the internet. It becomes imperative to ascertain the extent extension agents have access to and use of the internet.

Furthermore, in a bid for Nigerian government to bridge the digital divide, it launched the Nigerian economy into the information age with NIGCOMSAT-1 in December, 2005. This was planned to have coverage over Africa and Europe. Nigerian government also commenced the building of a National Information Infrastructure Backbone (NIIB), State Information Infrastructure Backbone (SIIB) and Local Information Infrastructure Backbone (LIIB). Rural Internet Resource Centers and Mobile Internet Units have been established for accelerating ICT diffusion into the rural areas of Nigeria (National Information Technology Development Agency-NITDA, 2003). In 2004, the Nigerian government also announced the details of a National Rural Telephone Programme (NRTP), which proposes to connect 500,000 new lines in 343 local government areas within twelve months. The programme has an investment of N28 billion (US$ 200 million) provided as a concessionary loan from the Chinese government and a matching grant of N2.8 billion from the Federal Government (Yekinni& Olaniyi, 2007). With this laudable effort of government, it is only pertinent to ascertain through empirical data the awareness, access, and use of ICT facilities to justify the government‟s huge investment in ICT.

In Nigeria, research has not brought a clear picture of the level of usage of ICT facilities by extension workers, especially in the South-South Agricultural Zone. This has resulted in a knowledge gap. The ensuing gap has been a serious constraint to formulating polices and designing programmes for improvement.Against this background, it is imperative therefore to ask the following questions:

  1. What are the socio-economic characteristics of the village extension agents (VEAs)?
  2. What is the level of awareness of ICT among the VEAs?
  3. What are the available ICT facilities to VEAs in their extension services?
  4. What is VEAs level of knowledge of ICT in their services?
  5. What is the level of use of ICT facilities by the VEAs in extension services delivery?
  6. What are the perceived benefits from the use of ICTs by the VEAs?
  7. What are the constraints to the use of ICT facilities by VEAs?

 

1.3      OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

The broad objective of the study wasto analyse village extension agents‟ use of information and communication technology in extension services delivery to farmers in South-South Agricultural Zone, Nigeria. The specific objectives were to:

  1. ascertainthe socio-economic characteristics ofthe village extension agents (VEA) in the study area, ii. ascertainthe level of awareness of ICT among the VEAs, iii. identify the available ICT facilities to VEAsin their extension services, iv. ascertain VEAs perceived level of knowledge of ICT in their services,
  2. ascertain the level of use of ICT facilities by the VEAsin extension services delivery, vi. determine the perceived benefits from the use of ICTs by the

VEAs, vii. ascertain ICT tools deemed important by VEAsin extension services delivery, viii. ascertain some technological attributes of ICT facilities, and ix. determine the constraints to the use of ICT facilities by VEAs.

1.4      HYPOTHESES OF THE STUDY (NULL)

The hypotheses of the study were stated as follows:

  1. There is no significant relationship between the socioeconomic characteristics of VEAs and their level of use of ICT.
  2. There is no significant relationship between the level of knowledge and use of ICT by the VEAs in South-South Nigeria.
  1. There is no significant difference in the level of use of ICT by

VEAs in the three selected States of South-South, Nigeria.

  1. Male and female extension agents do not differ significantly in the level of use of ICT in extension service.

 

1.5      JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY

Agricultural extension, which depends greatly on information exchange between and among farmers and extension functionaries, has been identified as one area in which ICT can play significant role. The rapid development of information and communication technology (ICT) is the biggest factor for change in extension services, one which facilitates and reinforces other changes. Gadzamaand Akinola(2013)noted that ICT brings new information to rural areas and it has much greater control over current information channels. For Nigeria extension service delivery system to be prompt and effective, ICT could be one of the best alternatives.

ICT can enhance the integration and efficiency of agricultural systems by opening new communication pathways and reducing transaction costs, given greater accessibility of information on prices, transportation and post production technologies. Adejoet al.(2013) citing Arokoyo (2005)reported that information and communication technologies (ICTs) are indispensable links in Research-Extension-Farmers-Input-Linkage System (REFILS). How far people progress in whatever they are doing depends largely upon their access to accurate and reliable information. Agricultural information dissemination is crucial to the productivity of farmers and makes farmers to learn about those things which they are not aware of (Banmeke & Olowu, 2005). ICT which is a veritable medium of quick dissemination of agricultural information between and among extension functionaries and farmers will be a useful tool in the hands of extension workers to reach more farmers in a more effective manner at the shortest possible time. The

availability of this facility (ICT) is not in doubt (Adeniyi, 2010). Access to ICT is largely available in cities as against rural communities,but a greater opportunity now exist in rural area with the development of technologies like the small low earth orbit satellites like the Nigerian Nigersat 1 and 2. While access to ICT tools may not be in doubt, the level of usage of available ICT facilities is not certain.

Therefore, a research of this nature will generate and provide vital information and data on the level of knowledge, awareness, access and usage ofICT facilities available tovillage extension agents in the study area. Succinctly, the findings and recommendations will be useful to both extension organizations, farmers, government and researchers. It will help extension organizations and researchers in their effort to solve farmers‟ problems.

It will reveal areas where farmers and extension organization need training to build capacity for ICT usage. Findings and recommendations will guide government on what to do to use ICT as a vehicle to drive its agricultural transformation agenda and in policy formulation to create enabling environment for ICT to thrive. It will expose farmers to available ICT facilities and how best they can harness its potential to boost agricultural production. The identified constraints and ICT facilities deemed important by this research finding will help government and researchers to identify where effort should be concentrated in bridging the digital divide and enhancing extension service delivery in Nigeria using ICT.Moreover, the findings of this research will serve as benchmark data for government, policy makers, research institutions, institutions of higher learning and the general public in planning and decision making.

 

1.6      SCOPE OF THE STUDY

This study focused on Village Extension Agents‟ use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in SouthSouth agricultural zone of Nigeria. This study was conducted in three states (Delta, Rivers and Akwa Ibom) of South-South geopolitical zone whose populace primary means of livelihood is farming.

ANALYSIS OF VILLAGE EXTENSION AGENTS’ USE OF  INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN EXTENSION SERVICES DELIVERY IN SOUTH-SOUTH, NIGERIA

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