Agricultural Extension Communication and the Question of Rural Change: A Beacon on Naerls, Abu, Zaria

International Journal of Integrative Humanism Vol. 10 No. 2, December 2018.
ISSN: 2026 – 6286

Jegede, Ayuba Grace; Jegede, Emmanuel (PhD) and Harris, Ifeanyi

Agriculture is the mainstay of the Nigerian economy. Agriculture provides resources and food which help to sustain mankind irrespective of geography or social class. At the heart of development is agriculture. Ultimately, it is the availability and accessibility of food that sustains human lives before they can be beneficiaries of any kind of development. Specifically, agriculture sustains the poor rural dwellers and offers them a legitimate means of livelihood. However, despite all the policies and laudable programmes with challenging themes in Nigeria, the country is yet to achieve sustainable food security. One visible challenge is that agricultural communication is still mostly done in a top-down approach in Nigeria. And again, it is not unusual to have the communication components of agricultural development programmes being led by scientists such as agronomists, engineers, sociologists and economists who have not even been trained in development communication or agricultural communication. Worst still, in most of the failed agricultural development programmes from 1960 till date, non-inclusion of the community people has been identified as one of the fundamental hurdles. The partial or non-adoption of agricultural innovations by rural farmers can also be explained by their inappropriateness to the special needs and resources of the technology to be transferred. The traditional approach in public extension is the top-bottom approach where extension agents package ideas, developed and tested by researchers, into messages and farmers are only told what to do. This top-bottom approach does not bring about sustainable agricultural results because it neither builds on local farming experiences nor does it promote farmers’ empowerment. If there is to be improvement in farming or in the development of farmers, the objectives of extension programmes in Nigeria must be clearly set down and regularly modified in response to
changing conditions. This paper, therefore, using observation method, key informant interview and extensive desk approach, appraises the background of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), its various communication approaches and their implications for rural change. The paper also argues that since agricultural extension communication is not simply concerned with the mere provision of information on farming activities, it should not stop with conventional approach. Rather, it must involve strong components of participatory tenets, build on indigenous knowledge of the local people, and embrace effective interpersonal and traditional modes of communication if it is to succeed in bringing about a sustainable agricultural development and effective rural change, especially among the rural populace.

Keywords: Agriculture, Communication, Productivity, Social Change

Edioms: Research and publication services

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