1.1     Background to the study

Capacity building is a process through which individuals, groups and organizations are empowered to meet development challenges (Miller, 2018). Capacity building is the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, resources and ability that farmers need for them to survive, adapt and thrive in the fast changing world of technology through appropriate knowledge, skills, system, attitude and resources that will enable farmers especially the women farmer to be effective and efficient in processing of their farm produce (Ann and Olaitan, 2017).United Nations (2016) defines capacity building as a conceptual approach to development that focuses on understanding the obstacles that inhibit people, governments, international organizations and non-governmental organizations from realizing their developmental goals while enhancing the abilities that will allow them to achieve measurable and sustainable results. The term is also referred as capacity development. In the context of this study, capacity building involves determining the capacity building needs of dry season vegetable farmers in Anambra state and influencing appropriate knowledge, skills, system, attitude and resources that enable dry season farmers to cultivate vegetables more efficiently and effectively. However, since the cultivation of dry season irrigated vegetables, there are lots of differences in the quality of the plants produced regarding texture, coloration, length and size of leaves, durability, and taste and the quantity of vegetables produced. In addition, dry season vegetable production is seen as a way of alleviating poverty among the rural dweller.

Needs assessment is a both a process and phenomenon which is very important in the initial stages of community project formulation and preparation and analysis thereafter in the subsequent stages of project implementation. In economic development process, needs are defined as the gap between what is the current situation or circumstances and what the community desire to achieve. Therefore, needs assessment is a process of identifying and measuring gaps between the current situation and the desired situation, prioritizing the gaps and determine ways of bridging them. 

Vegetable production is a growing aspect of agriculture in recent times. The awareness to consume vegetables for good health is increasing.  According to (Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 2009), vegetables play a significant role in supplying the essential minerals, vitamins and fiber not present in large quantities in starchy staple foods. Vegetables add flavors to meals.  They are tasty, healthy and supply both proteins and carbohydrates. According to (Agropedia, 2009) farmers adopt the production of vegetables due to the changing food habits of people and the increasing awareness of individuals towards balanced diet and concept of nutritional security. Vegetables are essential to human health. For instance, tomato fruits contain lycopene, a valuable anti-cancer and anti-cardiovascular chemical.  Carrots contain carotene (precursor of the essential vitamin A), and many fresh vegetables contain vitamin C.  Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables according to (Cardiosmart,2014) may reduce the risk of contracting some diseases such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. Vegetables are valuable in maintaining the alkaline reserve of the body (Rumezaet, al., 2006). According to (Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), 2009) vegetables are a good source of income for women farmers and offers opportunities for the disables to earn a living. Vegetables have great export potentials and are good sources of foreign exchange earnings (Agropedia, 2009)

The significance of vegetables makes the production an all season crops. However, its production is hindered in the developing economy because of the high dependence on rainfall.  Hence, a majority of vegetable producers utilizes wetlands (usually called Fadama) – supplemented with a simple irrigation system to raise vegetables. Both Governments and development agencies promote income-generating projects as a way of encouraging growth through increased agricultural production.  For instance, there are dry season vegetable producers under the Fadama scheme in all the state of the Federation. In fact, the production of vegetables during the dry seasons has been a source of employment and income to the farmers for decades. Hence, most of the farmers producing dry season vegetables embark on the use of small scale low-cost irrigation techniques.

The Anambra State Agricultural Development Programme (ASADP) embarked on the National Fadama Development Project in Nigeria (NFDP) phase I in 1996 by carrying out a study of both the surface and shallow underground water resources in the state as part of its programme to increase dry season crop production and other farming activities in the state. The study showed that small-scale fadama (irrigation) was feasible in Anambra State, using simple low cost technologies to harness both the surface and shallow underground water resources (Nwadukwe 2000). About 30,000 hectares of land in the state was then identified as having the capability to support fadama development.

Irrigation is defined as the supplementation of precipitation by storage and transportation of water to the fields for the proper growth of agricultural crops (Dahigaonkar, 2008).  According to Dittohet al. (2013), irrigation farming is the means to reduce the risks in farming, ensure high yields as well as make production possible throughout the year. Irrigation water could be gotten from surface water or groundwater.  The origin of surface water is ponds, lakes, rivers and seas while groundwater is derived underground in liquid or vapour state (Dupriez and De Leener, 2002). 

Irrigation farming as a concept is one of the most important rural development investments that can have both direct and indirect impacts on poverty and food security in semi-arid tropical countries (IFPRI, 2002; Bhattarai and Narayanamoorthy, 2004). It is often the recommended strategy to reduce risks associated with rainfall variability and increase yields of food crops (PinstrupAndersen and Pandya-Lorch, 2001).

Irrigation farming has become a relief to the poor and disadvantaged especially in the developing countries (Chazovachii, 2012). Irrigation nurtures the cultivation of early maturing vegetables and so is regarded as a welfare-enhancing agent. Likewise, a reliable and suitable source of water supply for agriculture results in tremendous improvements in agricultural production and guarantees economic returns to the grower (Walker, 2003). Todd (2015) and Domenech (2015) stressed that when farmers have access to reliable source of water, it encourages them to adopt new technologies and intensify cultivation, with its resultant increase in productivity, total production being higher, and returns from farming being great. This opens up employment avenues in the agricultural sector, both on-farm and off farm levels, leading to improvement in incomes, livelihoods, and better life in rural areas. However, capacity building to promote the sustainable farmers’ production occurs at different levels and at each level has its own challenges associated. For example, at the national level the challenge is to improve coordination and communication across sectors. At the local level, farmer organizations have challenges in facilitating access to resources especially land, water, credit and knowledge. Also small farmers have challenges of accessing to efficient and equitable markets, and financial incentives. The NFDP phase – I which implementation lasted for a period of six years came to an end in December 2002 and the phase-2 is yet to take-off. Within the period of six years, the NFDP was expected to have achieved its pre-determined objectives especially, with respect to improved vegetable production and at the same time, made some impact on the socio-economic life of the rural farmers who are involved in vegetable production in the state. The question now relates to the impact of fadama phase – 1 project of the Anambra State agricultural development programme on vegetable production and socio-economic life of the rural farmers. Of what impact is the NFDP on dry season vegetable production in Anambra State?

Therefore, this study is carried out to determine capacity building needs of vegetable dry season farmers in Anambra State for national development.

1.2     Statement of Problem

Since the creation of Anambra state in 1991, the State Ministry of Agriculture has gone through series of changes in the areas of policy initiatives, staffing, manpower training, funding of programmes (Anambra SEEDS document, n.d). However, some of the changes did not only come from the State but as a result of possible initiatives from interventions/developmental programme introduced by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture through collaboration with donor agencies such as Africa Development Bank (AfDB), Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Japanese International Co-operation Agency (JICA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank etc.

The effects of dry season vegetable production have not significantly affected the livelihoods of the producers since most of the vegetables farmers are still impoverished. The reduced productivity might result from inadequate information on improved practices of production and poor postharvest management. Hence, the study is embarked upon to investigate the challenges and information needs of the dry season vegetable producers in Anambra State. According to (Robert, Strong, 2015) Developing an understanding of farmers’ needs is the first step in planning educational programs targeted to specific farmers. Needs Assessments are used to identify strategic priorities and define end results (Needs, 2015).  It guide decisions related to appropriate actions to be taken, establish evaluation criteria for making judgments of success, and inform the continual improvement of activities within organizations (Needs, 2015). Needs Assessments set out to determine accomplished goals and then make recommendations about which activities will be most useful for achieving those results (, 2015). It is also paramount to note that the production of improved dry season vegetables requires the adoption of some agricultural practices. According to ADP Economics Program (1993), there are stages of adoption of improved technologies. The steps involve awareness, interest, trial, adoption.   The most significant of the stages is the awareness phase, and this requires information. Hence, the research is carried out to investigate the information needs dry season vegetable producers in Anambra East L.G.A, Anambra state, Nigeria.

1.3     Objectives of the study