APPRAISAL OF THE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES OF THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND RESEARCH LIAISON SERVICES, ZARIA, KADUNA STATE

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APPRAISAL OF THE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES OF THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND RESEARCH LIAISON SERVICES, ZARIA, KADUNA STATE

Abstract:

NAERLS has the national mandate of coordinating and planning agricultural extension activities in the country, as well as providing leadership role in the management of adopted villages. But in 2007, the Federal Government declared a state of emergency on the nation‘s agricultural sector, basing this on ineffective extension service provision and very low agricultural productivity due to poor production practices. Thus, this study examined the extension communication strategies of NAERLS, using its adopted villages as case study, and in the light of Federal Government‘s drive to improve agricultural productivity nationwide through a communication-anchored agricultural sector. The aim of the study was to enhance agricultural productivity in NAERLS adopted villages through the deployment of an effective communication strategy. It employed both quantitative and qualitative methods to study 104 respondents, comprising 82 farmers from three selected adopted villages (Tudun Iya in Katsina State, Nwogi in Niger State, and Okolo in Oyo State), 20 staff of NAERLS, and 2 policy makers. The instruments for data collection were 3 sets of questionnaire, 2 sets of Key Informant Interview and naturalistic observation. The questionnaire items were designed in three-point Likert scale of degree of Highly, Moderately, and Poorly; or of frequency of Always, Occasionally, and Rarely, with statistical values of 3, 2 and 1 respectively. Thus the weighted mean value was calculated to be significant at 2.0. The results showed, among others, that NAERLS practised group, mass-mediated and individual extension communication approaches, but with the group approach being the foremost; access to NAERLS communication channels was low for the selected villages; however, it was higher in Tudun Iya than in Okolo and Nwogi. Communication approaches, channels and messages were also found to be uniformly used for the various adopted villages without consideration for audience peculiarities and needs. The study also found that impact of the Institute‘s extension activities on farmers‘ productivity low; and that farmers were not adequately and sufficiently involved in the agricultural communication matters and initiatives. Moreover, the study found significant level of communication barriers to technology adoption in the selected villages. Other barriers to technology adoption included the top-down approach to agricultural technology development, and issues regard to insufficient funding and government‘s policy inconsistency. Despite the finding on adequate level of trust by farmers for the competency of NAERLS as agricultural communication partner, the absence of a working strategic communication guide created an apparent gap between NAERLS extension tenets and actual field practice; this gap led to the production and dissemination of media packages in a largely unorganized form. Based on the findings, a participatory communication strategy was designed for the study institute for deployment in the study location to enhance agricultural productivity. The strategic communication design was done with active participation and contribution from key stakeholders. The study therefore recommended, among others, that NAERLS should deploy the communication strategy designed by the study to enhance agricultural productivity in the study locations; and that the Federal Government, through the working of key stakeholders, should formulate a pluralistic policy that will legislate for the leadership, funding and coordination of the nation‘s extension activities.

APPRAISAL OF THE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES OF THE NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION AND RESEARCH LIAISON SERVICES, ZARIA, KADUNA STATE

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