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1.0                                 INTRODUCTION

The establishment of extension is one of the boldest attempts by the federal government to tackle the multifaceted problem of agricultural development in Nigeria. The aim of extension is to initiate action towards change in the behavioural complex of people that will translate to improvement in income and standards of living. In other words, extension services assist rural youths to improve their productivity through active participation in their farm activities (Ajayi 2002).  In the developed countries such as Britain, Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and the United states of America, the involvement of youths in agricultural production through agricultural extension programmes, especially the young farmers club, contributes significantly to agricultural development (maunder, 1973, Clyde 1973 and Manzoor et al. 1995).

In Nigeria, the attitude of youth towards agriculture as a profession has been reported to be negative and this is partly responsible for the low level of agricultural production in the country (Oluwatayo et al., 1989). It is better to motivate the youths to develop interest in farming and rural life through vocation agriculture in schools so that they will be able to farm on their own, join the young farmer clubs (YFCs) and other extension programmes in their areas and be more responsible to agricultural extension programmes after their secondary school education (Bradfield, 1996). An evaluation of youth participation in agricultural activities in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State is the focus of this study.

The nations progress and development depends to some extent on the growth, modernization and development of some rural areas because without sound rural development, there can be no balance in the national economic development. For any change to be considered as development, such a change must suggest a feeling of progress and must result to the upliftment of the quality of the human life. However, since rural development is also important in the direction of self help, a way of improving the development of rural area is to understand the roles played by youths in the development of rural areas (Akubuilo, 1990).

Youth are the greatest assets that any nation can have, not only that they are legitimately and actually the greatest investment for a country’s development, Fariude (1999) defined youth as the time a person’s latent powers and attributes are developed to their highest potential, when intellect is at its sharpest and energy is at its promising.The youth has also been looked at as a concept and defined as the period in an individuals’ life which runs between the end of childhood and entry into the world of work (Onuekwusi and Effiong 2002).

According to Nigeria’s national youth development policy (2001), the youth comprises all young persons of age 18-35, who are citizens of the federal republic of Nigeria. This category represents the most active, the most volatile and yet vulnerable segment of the Nigeria population. Development in itself is a self generating process, whereby human potentials and relationships are optimized for the purpose of satisfying needs within the context of changing belief and value systems of cultural units and the large community. This is seen as a strategy aimed at improving the economic and social life of the society (Anyawu, 1992).

Jibowo (1992), however, defined development as the transformation of rural community into a socially, economically, politically, orderly and materially desired condition with the purpose of improving the quality of the life of the rural population. Lissete (2000) defined rural development as a process of structural changes in the increasingly complex economic, social, cultural and technological quality of life in equitable, sustainable and efficient way. Fadeyomi (1998) observed that viable rural development could not be achieved when there is sustained growth in rural income and standard of living which could be brought about primarily from agriculture.

Therefore, Ogbuozobe (1997) concluded that the totality of community development process and movement is embedded in the principle of citizen participation which enjoys whatever is done to improve the welfare of the people Farinde (1999) stated that, rural youth participation in rural development projects can increase social responsibility and decrease risky behaviours.Therefore, Odebode (2000) reported that rural youths constitute a strong and very important labour force in development activities of rural communities.

So youth participation in rural development project is geared towards bringing an improvement in the standard of living of the people and change in their attitudes, knowledge, behaviours and skills.   Furthermore, rural development is aimed at planning and executing changes in the rural area with the primary objective of reducing or eradicating rural poverty. Rural development is also aimed at bringing full and productive employment along with availability of infrastructural facilities in the rural community to change the situation in which many rural people operate only at the subsistence level to a market orientation and level.

Rural development is thus the outcome of series of qualitative and quantitative changes occurring among a given rural population and whose converging effects indicate the standard of living and favourable changes in the way of life of the people concerned (Ekong, 2003).Whatever are the dynamic nature of development strategies, certain basic fundamental needs of the population must be met, such needs include; health facilities, educational facilities, housing, communication, extension services and other facilities required for the day-to-day activities in the rural community.

 But for the purpose of this project, the emphasis is on the involvement or participation of rural youth in agricultural development. Some other development activities that the youth could participate include; electricity project, pipe borne water project etc.Youths are rightly seen as leaders of tomorrow hence, the kind of education

  1. What are the personal characteristics (such as gender, educational level and occupation) of youth in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State?
  2. What are the roles played by youth in rural development in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo state?
  3. What are the attitudes of youths towards rural agricultural development in Owerri West Local Government Areas of Imo State?

In addition, successive governmental administrations in Nigeria have initiated policies aimed at involving the youth in agriculture as a lucrative vocation. Some specific programmes implemented in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo state to enhance youth participation in agriculture include, Young Farmers Club, YFC (1958) of the ministry of agriculture, the farm settlement scheme (1959), the school-to-land programme (1990).

The foregoing programmes had laudable objectives that the outcome did not match the material investment (Ogbuozobe, 1997). Moreover, little effort was made towards enhancing the effectiveness or sustainability of the programmes (Obdebde 2000). Also among the programmes are the NYSC agricultural scheme and the NDE agricultural projects etc.

1.1   Statement of Problems

The participation of youths in rural development project is very impressive. Reports have shown that many factors militate against the effective participation of youth in development (Odebode, 2000). Such factors include; low income of farm families; these young people tend to have very low level of functional literacy, and are frequently under obligation to work as a family or casual labour from a very early age. Other factors or constraints of youth in participating in development programmes are that youth work long hours during the busy or peak season and are virtually unemployed during the dry season or farm slack periods. They are expected to contribute in most cases if not all, earnings in support of the choice of their parents.

Their lack of formal education make them to be unwilling and generally unable to mix with more literate youths, even of the same age group, and they want to leave the rural areas and farming in particular and they are faced with diminishing farm size and income with the prospect of living near or below the poverty level (Farinde, 1991).In Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State, poverty, lack of academic and occupational sponsors could results to increase in the rate of school drop-outs. The consequences of all these rural youth problems result to significant reduction in agricultural production and productivity. The gradual breakdown of the extended family system which provides support and social guidance to youths has compounded the problems of rural youths in Nigeria (Squire, 2000).

The following are the major problems facing youth in the third world countries as pointed out by prince in 2001.

  • Basic education in rural areas rarely equips young men and women with knowledge, skills and attitudes that enable them to achieve their full potential as individuals and as members of society.
  • A positive image has not been promoted among rural youth who view themselves as inferior to the seemingly sophisticated young people from urban areas.
  • Unfavourable working conditions and lack of opportunity for further training and promotion.
  • Non-allocation of funds for lending to individual of group project activities.

Youths in the rural areas face these problems causing uncertain future over which they have no control.


1.2   Objectives

 The broad objective of this study is to assess youth participation in agricultural activities in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State.

The specific objectives are to;

  1. identify the personal and socio-economic characteristics of participating youth in the study area;
  2. ascertain the level of participation and contribution of youths in agricultural activities in the study area;
  • ascertain the various agricultural improved technologies practical by youths in the study area;
  1. identify the source/channel/method of spreading of agricultural technologies to youths in Owerri west Local Government Area of Imo State;
  2. identify constraints to youths participation in agricultural activities in Owerri West Local Government Area of Imo State.

1.3   Hypothesis

Ho: There is a positive and significant relationship between youth participation in agricultural development programmes and their socio-economic characteristics.

1.4   Justification of the Study

Government accepts the fact that for agriculture to meet the desired objectives, it must be transformed from a traditional concern to a modern one. It must also be changed from an ad-hoc programme to a sustained effort in the short or long run. This cannot be achieved without the transformation of the rural youths through participating and adopting the techniques disseminated by the Agricultural Development Programmes.

This study is therefore necessary in identifying how the potentials of these youths could be fully tapped and utilized. Furthermore, the knowledge obtained from the study may suggest recommendations to improve youths’ interest in youth extension programmes and enhance agricultural development at the local, state and national levels. Assessment of youth activities and programmes will enable youth planners and Directors to be aware of lessons from the past strategies and thus, work towards improving youths’ extension efforts. This study also would provide useful information to extension agencies in provision of solutions to the problems of youths in Imo State and Nigeria.


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