ASSESSMENT OF EMERGING ROLES AND TRAINING NEEDS OF EXTENSION PERSONNEL IN KOGI STATE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME.
Meaningful agricultural development in any society largely hinges on extension system in place. Agricultural extension assists rural people in the community through educational procedure in improving their farming methods and techniques, thus increasing their production efficiency, income, social and living standard. To bring this to pass requires continuous training of extension personnel in order to cope with the emerging roles cropping up as a result of developmental programmes established by the government to improve food production and reduction in the poverty level of rural dwellers. The study focused on the personal sociodemographic characteristics, emerging roles of extension personnel, training needs to cope with the emerging roles and frequency and type of training programme organized for the extension personnel.
It also identified the major problems affecting the continuous training and retraining of extension personnel in Kogi State ADP. The study covered twenty one local government areas of Kogi State which is divided into four agricultural zones: Zone A, B, C, and D. Data used were collected from one hundred extension personnel using questionnaire items. The study reveal that there is need for continuous training of extension personnel but some major constraints such as inadequate fund, administrative bottleneck, lack of continuity of extension policy
have to be overcome.
The Kogi State government should provide financial support as well as regular payment of personnel wages interms of salaries, bonus and arrears. Fund should be released to KSADP as at when due for proper, planning and execution of training programme for her personnel. Motivation of personnel should be taken into consideration to enhance their regular attendance to training programmes.
There should be continuity of extension policy to backup consistent training of extension personnel. Necessary training facilities and equipment should be provided by Kogi State ADP in order to enhance good training of her staff.
Nigeria is basically an agricultural country and about 65% to 70% of the population earns their living from agriculture (Idachaba, 1990). However, despite abundant oil, or mineral wealth, Nigeria faces acute food shortages as a result of low agricultural productivity to march the increases in population. The level of technology in Nigeria agriculture is relatively low because technologies developed through research and development activities are not reaching the peasant farmers. This situation calls for a virtue extension that will link the farmers with the researchers effectively (Oladele and Afoloyan 2005).
Extension is a comprehensive programme of services deliberately put in place for expanding, strengthening and empowering the capacity of the present and prospective farmers farm families, other rural economic operators (processors, marketers, rural agro-industrialists) that need to succeed in farming and farm related occupations. This is done through participatory stakeholdership with researchers, policy makers, extensionists, educators, agro investers and farmers themselves to put in place a strong programme of improved agricultural production and farm investment environment. It is thus a farmer centred programme at building agriculture through building of the farmers (Adedoyin 2002).
Agricultural extension is the main vehicle for the dissemination of technical and economic information hinges on training as the key to sustainable agricultural development. A well trained extension personnel, especially an extension, agent is the most important single element, for achieving the aims and objectives of extension organization as they relate with the clientele directly in their rural setting (Madukwe 2005) According to Amalu (1998), agriculture has changed at an extra ordinary rapid pace over the past fifty years.
The changes have included rapid shifts in agricultural technologies and practices as well as fundamental adjustments in the social relations of agricultural production and food distribution. The failure to achieve the numerous rural development objectives of the federal government has led to the introduction of an integrated approach represented by the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) system (Amalu, 1998). The system is based on the premise that a combination of factors comprising the appropriate technology or innovation, effective extension access to physical inputs, adequate market and infrastructural facilities are essential to getting agriculture moving.
This was to improve Agricultural productivity supported by basic infrastructure needed to raise the living standard of rural dwellers (Amon 1982). Infrastructural facilities development include sequential construction of rural roads, small dams, farm service centres, seed multiplication units, input distribution centres, demonstrating linkages among institutions. According to Emmanuel (1998) the ADP have proved to be the most result yielding programmes in Nigeria since its inception. These programmes emerged in the Second National Economic Development Plan between 1970-1975.
The development of the agricultural development projects in Nigeria fall into three distinct generations. The first generation comprised of enclave projects that covered a limited number of local government areas in the Northern Guinea savanna zone of Nigeria in 1975. (Funtua, Gusua, and Gombe). Other ADPs were establish in different states of Nigeria between 1978 and 1986 Kogi State Agricultural Development Programme came into existence with the creation of Kogi State in 1991.
The personnel came from Kwara and Benue ADP to form the staff strength of the organization. It was supported and financed by the joint efforts of the World Bank, federal and state governments before the World Bank withdrew her support in recent year? Some programme activities engaged in included provision of information on input supply and distribution, rehabilitation service, rural infrastructure development, technology transfer and adoption techniques among others. The achievement of the objectives of agricultural extension is possible only within the framework of a formal organization and organizational structure.
For effective coordination and implementation of the ADPs, each project has an executive committee known as Agricultural Development Executive Committee (ADPEC) headed by the state executive governor, commissioner for agriculture, project manager and adjudged relevant federal and state top functionaries of ministries and parastatals. This committee coordinates project activities, approve annual work plans and budgets, appoints and supervises senior staff, reviews project performance, awarding contracts, and supervising procurement activities.
Next is the project management unit (PMU), which is headed by programme manager, assisted by the sub-programme heads or directors in the project and the zonal managers.
The PMU ensures the implementation of all policies and directive approved by ADPEC. It meets every three months to review the performance of the project and takes vital policy decisions for operation of the programme. The organizations of ADPs are undertaken through the activities of two major programmes, namely, the core and support service programme.
The core programme includes: the technical extension, engineering and commercial sub programme while the support service comprises the administration, finance, and account, planning, monitoring and evaluation, human resources development and training sub programmes. The human resource development and training is to ensure continuous supply of necessary skills both qualitative and quantitative for the attainment of the project goals and objectives. It handles human resource screening, man power audit, planning and record, staff development and training performance approval and skill gap analysis.
According to Boxter (1989), the qualifications of extension personnel in Nigeria are mostly National Diploma (ND), Higher National Diploma (HND) and some university graduates. Most of these have long years of experience and continuous training through monthly technology review meeting (MTRM), fortnight training (FNT), seminars, workshops and conferences. (Boxter 1984). The regular training enables them to perform their job better.
According to Ali and Halium (1998), the better trained an employee is, the more productive he can perform.
ASSESSMENT OF EMERGING ROLES AND TRAINING NEEDS OF EXTENSION PERSONNEL IN KOGI STATE AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME.
Statement of Problem.
Nwachukwu (1988) asserted that many employees have failed in organizations because their need for training was not identified and provided for as an indispensable part of management function. Employees performance is a function of ability, will and situational
factors. An organization may have employees of high ability and determination with appropriate equipment and managerial support, yet production falls below the expected standards.
The missing factors in many cases are training and development. The ultimate wealth of a nation is its human resources. It is the human resources that can explore mineral and natural endowment, develop and regulate its economy in the path of progress.
Nwachukwu (1988), asserted further that to achieve the development of agriculture, the training of agricultural extension personnel is important in order to ensure that they are adequately prepared in the acquisition of skills and expertise knowledge required for effective
extension service. Emerging farm technologies such as integrated pest management and improved practices in horticulture call for actual field experience. Extension personnel need training not only in technological aspects but also in human relations, problem solving, sensitivity
towards disadvantaged group and basic concept of management. Blackburn and Haberty (1994) observed that the emerging role of extension personnel is closer to that of a socioeconomic community worker than a technical expert but their training is insufficient for the
To benefit maximally from their interactions with the extension personnel, the agents need a broad based training and exposure (Hayward 1990). Morover, there is a current emphasis on the natural resources management for sustainable land use system and the environment, mobilization of farmers, conflict resolutions and poverty alleviation. Other issues of global emphasis include the structural changes in extension organization, changing in emphasis on extension goals and objectives, functional relationships with other agencies, needs based and demand-driven extension service.
This demands means that extension personnel need to respond to the technological, socio-economics, environmental and other needs of the local people as well as national and global issues if they are to remain relevant in the present and future extension service delivery. This is not possible without consistent training of extension personnel. Therefore, the extension personnel should be trained towards involving in the various groups of their clientele in planning and implementation of their development programme as the agricultural extension clientele have expanded to include rural framers and HIV/AIDS affected farmers.
(Ogunbameru 2004). The introduction of Fadama II and III, Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) and other programmes in line with the Federal Government Development for goals call for additional demand in the area of capacity building for the existing extension personnel. According to survey conducted by Kogi State ADP in 2005, much success was recorded by the farmers in terms of productivity and the acceptance of innovations, improvement of the rural dwellers and the less rivileged. This was possible as a result of the efforts of well trained extension personnel or agents through monthly technology review meeting and fortnight training programme.
There was also remarkable improvement in the linkage between research approach offered: On Farm Adaptive Research, (OFAR), On Station Research (OFR), On the Farm Adaptive Research, Small Plot Adoption Technique (SPAT) and Monthly Technology Review Meeting (MTRM).
The new challenges such as Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), Special Programme on food security (SPFS), ICTS, Fadama II and the emerging role of extension personnel call for upgrading or updating the knowledge and training of extension agents in specific areas in order to meet these challenges and additional responsibilities given to the extension agents as facilitators. This is coming at a time when the World Bank has withdrawn her financial support.
The roles of the extension personnel have increased to face the challenges of this present generation after exposure to these newly introduced programmes. Continuous training on the new skills will help to equip and upgrade the effectiveness of extension personnel in order to achieve the millennium goals among the rural dwellers, the less privileged and the disables in the communities. The pertinent questions therefore are.
(a) what are the personal socio-demographic characteristics?
(b) what are the emerging role of extension personnel in Kogi State ADP?
(c) what are the areas of competence of extension personnel in Kogi State ADP?
(d) what type of training is required to perform the emerging role?; and
(e) what are the constraints to continuous training of extension personnel in Kogi State