The need to supply sufficient food and fibre to satisfy the ever increasing population is one of the greatest challenges facing government at all levels in Nigeria. To this end, government establish agricultural research institutes, departments, colleges and universities of agriculture to generate and teach farmers, practices and systems meant to boast agricultural production. In spite of the long history of agricultural research and the fast increasing number of agricultural research institutes and colleges/universities of agriculture, coupled with the large volume of information/innovation resulting from enhanced research efforts, agricultural production has remained largely at subsistent level. The innovations generated are either not adopted or inappropriately adopted with severe environmental consequences. This study was carried out to investigate the linkages in agricultural innovation generation and adoption for promotion of environmental quality. Seven research questions were answered while seven related null hypotheses were formulated and tested at 0.05 level of significance. The descriptive survey research design was adopted for the study. Proportionate random and purposive sampling techniques were used to select 329 respondents. A 117 item structured questionnaire developed from the literature reviewed was used to collect data from the respondents. Each of the structured questionnaire items was assigned four response options of strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree. The questionnaire items were face validated by three experts. The reliability data was collected from 20 respondents outside the area of study and a reliability coefficient of 0.82 was obtained using the cronbach alpha reliability test. The findings revealed poor/weak linkages among agencies involved in agricultural innovation generation and adoption. Fifteen constraints to linkages were identified to include inappropriate government policy, inequality and gap in qualification and salary scale, weak legal and policy framework for linkages, poor attitude and low morale of some agencies, poor logistics support, lack of incentives for linkage activities, lack of trust and confidence among agencies and inadequate well trained personnel in some agencies. Seven strategies for enhancing linkages were identified which include entrenching linkage mandates in policies establishing each agencies, making formal arrangements for linkage activities, organizing orientation on linkage activities, building linkage leadership in administration and promoting joint priority setting, planning, implementation and evaluation of research and training projects among others. The findings also revealed low level of adoption of environment friendly agricultural innovations.
Eighteen obstacles to adoption of environment friendly innovations were identified to include high labour requirement, low level of education of farmers, low economic potentials and profitability of environment friendly agricultural practices, lack of clear and reliable information among others, while sixteen measures to promote adoption were identified to include provision of material inputs required for adoption, making application procedures simple and easy, enhancing technical skills and capacity of farmers among others. Based on the findings of the study, it was recommended among others that linkage mandate should be formalized in policies establishing the agencies and massive education and enlightenment of farmers and the general public on the economic potential and profitability of environment friendly agricultural practices should be embarked upon.
Background of the Study
The supply of sufficient food and fibre to satisfy the ever increasing population is the greatest challenge of government at all levels in Nigeria. Globally, agricultural production is seen as being central to the overall wellbeing of the populace. The commanding position of the agricultural sector in Nigeria is manifested in its dominant share of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employing more than 70% of the active labour force and generating about 88% of non-oil foreign exchange earnings (Eboh, 2003). In 2009, the agricultural sector contributed about 41.84% of Nigeria’s GDP and provided employment for about 70% of the workforce (Corporate Agriculture, 2012). The annual contribution of the agricultural sector to the Nigeria’s GDP stands at 35% and employment of about 70 – 75% of the working population annually (Osinowo, 2012). Therefore the challenge for African countries and Nigeria in particular, is how to increase agricultural production and rural incomes without irreparably damaging the natural resource base upon which agricultural production rest.
To achieve this, government sets up various agencies, institutions, agricultural universities, and extension agencies to generate and circulate innovations needed by stakeholders. Of these agencies, agricultural research institutes (ARI), agricultural education and training (AET) institutions and agricultural extension agencies (AEA) play crucial roles in generating and circulating information about agricultural production to farmers.
The ultimate aim of all applied agricultural research is to increase agricultural production and improve the standard of living of farmers through the generation of innovations and technologies related to agriculture. These innovations are arrived at through careful experiments conducted by agricultural researchers domiciled in agricultural research institutes as well as in departments, faculties and colleges/ universities of agriculture across the country. Presently, there are twenty two (22) research institutes in Nigeria, each with a specific mandate in crop, animal or commodity and fields of activity (Voh, 1999) and twenty three (23) faculties of agriculture and veterinary medicine across Nigerian universities and the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan (Voh, 1999). These research efforts give rise to a body of knowledge, technologies, practices and systems which form the basis for innovations related to agriculture and environmental management.
Agricultural development depends on innovation. Innovation is a major source of improved productivity, competitiveness and economic growth throughout advanced and emerging economies, and plays an important role in creating jobs, generating income, alleviating poverty, and driving social development. Continuous innovation is necessary if farmers, agribusinesses, and even nations are to cope, compete, and thrive in the midst of changes in agriculture and economy. An innovation has been defined by Hall (2006) as new creations of social and economic significance. They may be brand new, but are more often combinations of existing elements. For Hall and Dijman (2006), the concept of innovation is a search for development, adaptation, imitation and adoption of technologies that are new to a specific context. It is a process that involves continuous interaction among stakeholders. There must be continuous learning for innovations to take place and the opportunity to learn depend on the degree and type of interactions among the different enterprises, organizations and related sectors as well as institutional behaviours which determine the extent and rate at which information and knowledge are produced, transferred and utilized (CTA, 2005). It is a process by which farmers and farms accept and use agricultural technologies and services that are new to them.