The research study was carried out to assess the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) among agricultural extensions workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State. In order to achieve the broad objectives of the study, four specific objectives were raised which included determination of the influence of the level of income and educational attainment of extension workers on the use of ICT in Zamfara State, Nigeria. Four research questions andtwo null hypotheses were formulated for the study. The sample of the study comprised of 340 extension workers drawn from a population of 475 extension workers working in Zamfara State Agricultural Development Project (ZADP). Multi-stage sampling procedure was used to select the sample from the population. A structured questionnaire was used as instrument for data collection. Data were presented in tables and analyzed using percentage, arithmetic mean and standard deviation to answer the research questions. The two null hypotheses were tested using regression analysis at 0.05 level of significance. The result of the tested null hypotheses indicated significant influence of socio-economic factors such as annual income, education, working experience and household size on the use of ICT in ZamfaraState. Findings of the study revealed that level of use of ICT tools among extension workers was very low due to non-availability of these devices. The researcher recommended that concerned stakeholders such as government and other non-governmental organizations should make efforts to address those socio-economic factors such as annual income, education, household size and working experience which influence the use of ICT among extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

1.1 Background of the Study
Effective communication of agricultural information to farmers is crucial in achieving optimum efficiency in agricultural extension administration and practice in Nigeria. Agricultural extension in this information age has been recognized as an essential medium of disseminating information and advice to farmers and this can be achieved throughthe use of ICT. In Nigeria today, the concept of ICT has become a global concern and the increasing application of the technology in every segment of our national life, especially through the mobile phones, television, the internet, e-wallet, video, cameras, computers, mobile cinema, cassette recorders and overhead projectors.

Agricultural extension is an informal educational service which brings information andnew technologies to farming communities to enable them improve their production, income and standards of living. Throughout the world, ICT has become increasingly integrated into dissemination of information to farmers. ICT are used to connect and enable learning and also connect communities of farmers and researchers in agriculture. In recent years, a number of Sub-saharan African countries experienced slow agricultural development. The decline in the agricultural development could be attributed to a number of constraints which include inappropriate and inconsistent agricultural policies, inadequate information provision, low level of adoption of improved agricultural technologies and institutional frameworks (Kiplangand Wallance, 2003).

Yakubu, Abubakarand Atala (2013), report that agricultural development in Africa and Nigeria in particular, has been hampered by low level of agricultural information exchange. Low External Input Sustainable Agriculture (LEISA) now known as Farming

Matters (2005) emphasize that the underlying is related to the information and knowledge.

Access to information is one of the most valuable resources in agricultural development. Recently the demand for agricultural information is of great importance than ever before, thereby making information a prominent factor in agricultural development.

Socio-economic factors in accordance with this study are socio-economic variables that influence an agricultural extension workers‟ use of occupational devices in the discharge of his/her assignment. Such variables that are important include level of income, working experience, family size, age and level of educational attainment. Those with higher socio-economic status or variables tend to thrive and many aim to improve their socio-economic variables or factors in order to improve their life chances.

Aikensand Barbarin (2010) view socio-economic factors as the economic and sociological combined total measure of a person‟s work experience and of an individual‟s or family‟s economic and social position in relation to others, based on income, education, occupation and other factors. Milner and Plourde (2006) posit that socioeconomic factors such as level of income, education and occupation together best represent socio-economic variables that influence the abilities of an individual or individuals to use certain occupational devices.

ICTsare technologies used by agricultural extension workers to facilitate communication, processing and transmission of relevant agricultural information and technologies to farmers. Such technologies include television, radio, mobile phones, as well as the internet facilities. Other technologies include the use of mobile cinema, radio cassette recorders, overhead projectors, and videos.

Adebayo and Adesope (2007) define ICT as the term used to access, retrieve, store, organize, manipulate, produce, present, and exchange information by electronic and other automated means. Similarly, Michael and Vancrowder (2001) described ICTs as a range of electronic technologies which when converged in new configuration are flexible, adaptable, enabling, and capable of transforming organizations and redefining social relation. ICTs therefore, are an expanding assembly of technologies that can be used to collect, store and share information between people using multiple devices and multiple media.

Agricultural extension service depends largely on information exchange between and among farmers and a broad range of other actors, namely the extension workers or workers. Frontline agricultural extension workers, who are the direct link between farmers and other actors in the agricultural knowledge and information system are well positioned to make use of ICTs to access expert knowledge and information that could be beneficial to farmers.

Arokoyo (2005) identifies some potential applications of ICT in agricultural extension to include;

i. Capacity to reach large audience example, the use of radio, television, and the internet.

ii. Can be effectively used for training and demonstrations, example, television, video, compact disk (CD)and digital versatile disk (DVD).

iii. Can be used to make extension system and structures more efficient through better management of information and scarce resources. Example the use of data bases for management information system (MIS) and networking software.

iv. For the search and packaging of information on demandand for exploring of alternative productive option and technologies

v. ICT may be used for normal weather forecast and as a warning system for diseases/pests outbreaks and other disasters before they occur and also for the provision of timely and sensitive market information. For example with the use of radio, television and short message service(SMS).

vi. ICTs are useful for networking among and between the key stakeholders in the Research-Extension-Farmers-Inputs-Linkage System(REFILS)example, the use of television, video and SMS.

vii. Finally, ICTs can also be effectively used for community mobilization, learning and action. Example, Radio, TV, public address system and the web.

Meeraand Dexit (2004) note that ICTs can bring new information services to rural areas where farmers (end users) will have much greater control, than ever before over current information channels. Access to such new information source is a crucial requirement for the sustainable development of the farming systems. Meera, Jhamtani and Rao (2004) maintain that, ICT can be of immense help to extension workers to gather, store, retrieve and disseminate broad range of information needed by farmers, thus transforming them from extension workers into knowledge workers(KW) The emergence of such knowledge workers will result in the realization of the much talked about bottom-up, demand derive, technology generation assessment, refinement and transfers.

1.2 Statement of the Problem
The agricultural sector of Nigeria and of Zamfara State in particular is a strong springboard for development if it is given adequate attention. Moreso, ICT has been identified as a veritable channel through which development in agriculture of Zamfara State and Nigeria in general could be realized particularly in information dissemination and literacy drive of extension workers.

Various reports by the ZADP over the years at the National Agricultural Extension Planning and Review (NAEPR) meetings held at the National Agricultural Extension and

Research Liaison Services (NAERLS) show low extension agent and farm family ratio of 1:1000. Furthermore, poor mobility of extension staff due to dwindling fund features regularly in the annual reports. Moreover, poor salary, non-payment of allowances, delayed promotion of the extension workers featured prominently in the annual reports. The invasion of the rural communities in Zamfara State by armed bandits, kidnappers and cattle rustlers had worsened the situations. These situations discourages regular visit of extension workers to farmers in the State. Rural farmers who should be given adequate attention and support in terms of provision of current information on relevant agricultural technologies and practices by the extension workers are not adequately assisted and informed, thus, constituting an uphill task in adopting modern technologies. Even when informed, they are beset with confusing and late information. Hence, farmers in Zamfara State are poorly reached by extension workers and thus, the expected high performance level of farmers has not been realized. However, the use of ICT by the extension workers will greatly enhance the dissemination of agricultural information to farmers through the use of radio, television and other ICT tools in the state. ICTs have many and various benefits to the extension workers in particular and transformation of agricultural extension. In view of the above therefore, this study attempted to analyze the perception of the use of ICTs among agricultural extension workers in agricultural information delivery system in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of the study was to analyse the use of ICT by Agricultural Extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

The specific objectives are to:
1. ascertain ICT devices available for use by agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria;

2. determine the level of perception of the use of ICT among agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria; and

3. establish the extent to which socio-economic characteristics of agricultural extension workers influence the use of ICT in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

1.4 Research Questions
The following research questions were answered:
1. What are the ICT devices available for use by agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria?

2. What is the perception of the level of Use of the ICT devices among agricultural extension Workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria?

3. What is the extent to which socio-economic characteristics of agricultural extension workers influence the use of ICT in Zamfara State, Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null-hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance:

1. Socio-economic characteristics have no significant influence on the level of use of ICT by agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria.

2. There is no significant influence between ownership of ICT devices and their level of use among agricultural extension workers.

1.6 Significance of the study
At the end of this research study, it is hoped that, the study would benefit farmers, Zamfara state government, Policy makers in agriculture and Researchers in the field of agricultural extension

The rural farmers in Zamfara state would benefit from the result of this study as the use of ICT enhanced the volume of proven technologies available to assist farmers increase their farm productivity. Improved farming techniques are expected to be brought to their door-steps through the use of ICT devices by extension workers.

The findings of this study would be of beneficial to policy makers in agricultural extension to put more effort towards making the ICT more available, accessible and affordable to the extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara state.

Through the findings of this study, the government would be sensitized on the problem that bedeviled the use of ICT by extension workers so that they can be effectively addressed by government for better service delivery to the rural farmers.

The findings would also serve as a baseline and reference material for further research in the study area or similar area so as to fill the gaps this study could not identify.

The study will also serve as a reference material for future researchers.

1.7 Basic Assumptions of the Study
For the purpose of this study, the following basic assumptions were made:
1. Socio-economic characteristics of the agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara state influence their use of ICT devices.

2. Agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara state have limited access and awareness to the use of ICT in extension delivery due to shortage of ICT devices in extension delivery in the state.

3. The level of use of ICT devices among agricultural extension workers is significantly influenced by their availability in the study area.

1.8 Delimitation of the Study
The study was delimited to the assessment of perception of use of ICT among agricultural extension workers in agricultural development in Zamfara State, Nigeria. The socio-economic factors delimited to the study were; the level of income of the extension workers, their level of educational attainments, household size, working experience and the age of the extension workers because they are the main concern of the research study. The research study was further delimited to the availability and level of use of ICT devices in the area under study. The study was delimited to agricultural extension workers in the fourteen (14) LGAs of Zamfara State working with ZADP.

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Item Type: Project Material  |  Size: 68 pages  |  Chapters: 1-5
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