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Introduction of TOPIC
Commercial agriculture is large-scale production of crops for sale, intended for widespread distribution to wholesalers or retail outlets. In commercial farming crops such as wheat, maize, tea, coffee, sugarcane, cashew, rubber, banana, cotton are harvested and sold into world markets. Commercial agriculture includes livestock production and livestock grazing. Due to the expensive nature of capital formation and implementation of technological processes, the landowners of such farms are often large agricultural corporations (especially in developing countries). Large-scale commercial farming, in terms of some of its processes, may be conceptually not very different from large industrial enterprises; United Fruit Company (now Chiquita Brands International) is an example.
Commercial farming is most commonly found in advanced industrialized nations. The harvested crop may be processed on-site (or shipped to a processing facility belonging to the farm owners) and then sold to a wholesaler as a complete product, or it may be sold as-is for further processing elsewhere. Commercial agriculture differs significantly from subsistence agriculture, as the main objective of commercial agriculture is achieving higher profits through economies of scale, specialization, introduction of capital-intensive farming techniques, labour-saving technologies, and maximization of crop yields per hectare through synthetic and natural resources (fertilizers, hybrid seeds, irrigation, etc.).
Whereas subsistence agriculture is an economic model in which most members of a population work in agriculture to feed themselves, with limited need for trade, commercial agriculture is a type of agriculture suited to industrial or postindustrial economic models, in which most members of a population do not work in agriculture, are fed by others (the few who do work in agriculture), and purchase their food and fiber as consumers, with currency. Contents
* 1 Development
* 2 Types
* 3 Factors
* 4 See also
Development[edit source | editbeta]
Commercial farming is a progression from diversified (sometimes called mixed) farming, where the farmer’s intention is to produce goods for sale primarily for widespread consumption by others. The farmer may acquire a sufficiently large amount of arable land and/or sufficiently advanced technology. In advanced countries, there is also investment in expensive capital equipment like tractors, harvesters and so forth. At this point, it may become more profitable for the farmer to specialize and focus on one or a few particular crops due to economies of scale. This may be further augmented by higher levels of technology that might significantly reduce the risk of poor harvests. Thus, the key difference between commercial farming and less-developed forms of agriculture is the new emphasis on capital formation, scientific progress and technological development, as opposed to a reliance mainly on natural resource utilization that is common to subsistence and diversified agriculture.
Types[edit source | editbeta]
There are types of commercial agriculture:
* Intensive Commercial Farming: A system of agriculture in which relatively large amounts of capital or labour are applied to relatively smaller areas of land. It is practiced in countries where the population pressure is reducing the size of landholdings. The State of West Bengal in India provides one of the best examples of intensive commercial farming.
* Extensive Commercial Farming: It is a system of agriculture in which relatively small amounts of capital or labour investment are applied to relatively large areas of land. At times, the land is left fallow to regain its fertility. It is mostly mechanized as labour is very expensive or may not be available at all. It usually occurs at the margin of the agricultural system, at a great distance from market or on poor land of limited potential. It is practiced usually in the tarai regions of southern Nepal. Crops grown are sugarcane, rice and wheat. * Plantation Agriculture: Plantation is a large farm or estate usually in a tropical or sub-tropical country where crops are grown for sale in distant markets rather than local consumption. ————————————————-
Factors[edit source | editbeta]
Commercial agriculture contains six key factors:
Commercial farms must move their products to market. Farms need to be located near transportation systems. Trucks, ships, planes, and trains are several ways that products can be moved from where they are grown or made to where customers can buy them.
A farm’s soil, as well as the climate of the region in which it is located, determine what crops will grow there or whether the land can support livestock. The temperature and rainfall can also determine the type of crop grown. For example, oranges must be grown in a hot climate. They will not grow if the temperature is too cold.
3. Raw Materials
A commercial farm depends on raw material. For example, a farmer will plant grain to get wheat. A farmer will have dairy cows to produce milk. Seeds and animals are two examples of raw materials used in commercial agriculture.
4. Market Forces
Supply and demand are important for selling agricultural products. If there is a high demand for a product and low supply, the price will be increased.
People who work on farms provide different types of labour. Labour is needed to plant crops, as well as to harvest them. This is important because some produce, such as grapes, need to be hand harvested.
Movement of agricultural products to market depends on transportation systems. For example, produce is shipped by rail in special refrigerated cars, then shipped across the ocean. Some crops. such as fruit, must get to the market quickly, or else they will rot; crops like these are often shipped shorter distances or are sold in the regions where they are grown.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Cultivating after an early rain
Tillage is the agricultural preparation of the soil by mechanical agitation of various types, such as digging, stirring, and overturning. Examples of human-powered tilling methods using hand tools include shovelling, picking, mattock work, hoeing, and raking. Examples of draft-animal-powered or mechanized work include ploughing (overturning with moldboards or chiseling with chisel shanks), rototilling, rolling withcultipackers or other rollers, harrowing, and cultivating with cultivator shanks (teeth). Small-scale gardening and farming, for household food production or small business production, tends to use the smaller-scale methods above, whereas medium- to large-scale farming tends to use the larger-scale methods. There is a fluid continuum, however. Any type of gardening or farming, but especially larger-scale commercial types, may also use low-till or no-till methods as well. Tillage is often classified into two types, primary and secondary.
There is no strict boundary between them so much as a loose distinction between tillage that is deeper and more thorough (primary) and tillage that is shallower and sometimes more selective of location (secondary). Primary tillage such as ploughing tends to produce a rough surface finish, whereas secondary tillage tends to produce a smoother surface finish, such as that required to make a good seedbed for many crops. Harrowing and rototilling often combine primary and secondary tillage into one operation. “Tillage” can also mean the land that is tilled. The word “cultivation” has several senses that overlap substantially with those of “tillage”. In a general context, both can refer to agriculture generally. Within agriculture, both can refer to any of the kinds of soil agitation described above. Additionally, “cultivation” or “cultivating” may refer to an even narrower sense of shallow, selective secondary tillage of row crop fields that kills weeds while sparing the crop plants. Contents
* 1 Tillage systems
* 1.1 Reduced tillage
* 1.2 Intensive tillage
* 1.3 Conservation tillage
* 1.4 Zone tillage
* 1.4.1 Purpose
* 1.4.2 Usage
* 2 Effects of tillage
* 2.1 Positive
* 2.2 Negative
* 3 General comments
* 4 Definitions
* 5 History of tilling
* 6 Alternatives to tilling
* 7 See also
* 8 References
* 8.1 Bibliography
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
Tillage systems[edit source | editbeta]
Reduced tillage[edit source | editbeta]
Reduced tillage systems leave between 15 and 30% residue cover on the soil or 500 to 1000 pounds per acre (560 to 1100 kg/ha) of small grain residue during the critical erosion period. This may involve the use of a chisel plow, field cultivators, or other implements. See the general comments below to see how they can affect the amount of residue. Intensive tillage[edit source | editbeta]
Intensive tillage systems leave less than 15% crop residue cover or less than 500 pounds per acre (560 kg/ha) of small grain residue. These types of tillage systems are often referred to asconventional tillage but as conservation tillage systems are now more widely used than intensive tillage (in the United States), it is often not appropriate to refer to this type of system as conventional. These systems involve often multiple operations with implements such as a mold board, disk, and/or chisel plow. Then a finisher with a harrow, rolling basket, and cutter can be used to prepare the seed bed. There are many variations. Conservation tillage[edit source | editbeta]
Conservation tillage systems are methods of soil tillage which leave a minimum of 30% of crop residue on the soil surface or at least 1,000 lb/ac (1,100 kg/ha) of small grain residue on the surface during the critical soil erosion period. This slows water movement, which reduces the amount of soil erosion. Conservation tillage systems also benefit farmers by reducing fuel consumption and soil compaction. By reducing the number of times the farmer travels over the field, farmers realize significant savings in fuel and labor. In most years since 1997, conservation tillage was used in US cropland more than intensive or reduced tillage systems. However, conservation tillage systems delay warming of the soil due to the reduction of dark earth exposure to the warmth of the spring sun, thus delaying the planting of the next year’s spring crop of corn. * No-till – Never use a plow, disk, etc. ever again. Aims for 100% ground cover. * Strip-Till – Narrow strips are tilled where seeds will be planted, leaving the soil in between the rows untilled. * Mulch-till
* Rotational Tillage – Tilling the soil every two years or less often (every other year, or every third year, etc).
* Zone tillage – A form of deep tillage where only narrow strips are tilled. Zone tillage[edit source | editbeta]
Zone tillage is a form of modified tillage (deep tillage) that agitates the soil to help reduce soil compaction problems and to improve internal soil drainage. Purpose[edit source | editbeta] Zone tillage is designed to only disrupt the soil in a narrow strip directly below the crop row. In comparison to no-till, which relies on the previous year’s plant residue to protect the soil and aides in postponement of the warming of the soil and crop growth in Northern climates, zone tillage creates approximately a 5-inch-wide strip that simultaneously breaks up plow pans, assists in warming the soil and helps to prepare a seedbed. When combined with cover crops, zone tillage helps replace lost organic matter, slows the deterioration of the soil, improves soil drainage, increases soil water and nutrient holding capacity, and allows necessary soil organisms to survive.
Usage[edit source | editbeta]
It has been successfully used on farms in the mid-west and west for over 40 years and is currently used on more than 36% of the U.S. farmland. Some specific states where zone tillage is currently in practice are Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Illinois. Unfortunately there aren’t consistent yield results in the Northern Cornbelt states however; there is still interest in deep tillage within the agriculture industry. Deep tillage is used to improve the drainage and filtering of the soil, especially if used in areas that are not well drained and therefore is used as a less expensive way of tile drainage. ————————————————-
Effects of tillage[edit source | editbeta]
Positive[edit source | editbeta]
* Ploughing loosens and aerates the top layer of soil which can facilitate the planting of the crop. * It helps in the mixing of residue from the harvest, organic matter (humus) and nutrients evenly throughout the soil. * It is a mechanical way to destroy weeds.
* Dries the soil before seeding.
* Autumn tilling means that the exposed soil will crumble over winter when frosting and defrosting, helping to prepare a smooth surface for spring planting. Negative[edit source | editbeta]
* Dries the soil before seeding.
* The soil loses a lot of its nutrients like nitrogen and its ability to store water. See No-till farming * Erosion of soil.
* Higher rate of fertilizer and chemical runoff.
* Decreases the water infiltration rate of soil. (Results in more runoff and erosion since the soil absorbs water slower than before) * Reduces organic matter in the soil (Microbes, carbon compounds, earthworms, ants, etc.). * Destroys soil aggregates.
* Compaction of the soil, also known as a tillage pan. * Eutrophication
* Can attract slugs, cut worms, army worms, and other harmful insects to the left over residues. * Crop diseases can be harbored in surface residues.
General comments[edit source | editbeta]
* The type of implement makes the most difference, although other factors can have an effect. * Tilling in absolute darkness (night tillage) might reduce the number of weeds that sprout following the tilling operation by half. Light is necessary to break the dormancy of some weed species’ seed, so if fewer seeds are exposed to light during the tilling process, fewer will sprout. This may help reduce the amount of herbicides needed for weed control.
* Greater speeds, when using certain tillage implements (disks and chisel plows), lead to more intensive tillage (i.e., less residue is on the soil surface). * Increasing the angle of disks causes residues to be buried more deeply. Increasing their concavity makes them more aggressive. * Chisel plows can have spikes or sweeps. Spikes are more aggressive. * Percentage residue is used to compare tillage systems because the amount of crop residue affects the soil loss due to erosion. * See Soybean management practices to see what types of tillage are currently recommended for Soybean Production. ————————————————-
Definitions[edit source | editbeta]
Primary tillage loosens the soil and mixes in fertilizer and/or plant material, resulting in soil with a rough texture. Secondary tillage produces finer soil and sometimes shapes the rows, preparing the seed bed. It also provides weed control throughout the growing season during the maturation of the crop plants, unless such weed control is instead achieved with low-till or no-till methods involving herbicides. * The seed bed preparation can be done with harrows (of which there are many types and subtypes), dibbles, hoes, shovels, rotary tillers, subsoilers, ridge- or bed-forming tillers, rollers, orcultivators.
* The weed control, to the extent that it is done via tillage, is usually achieved with cultivators or hoes, which disturb the top few centimeters of soil around the crop plants but with minimal disturbance of the crop plants themselves. The tillage kills the weeds via 2 mechanisms: uprooting them, burying their leaves (cutting off their photosynthesis), or a combination of both. Weed control both prevents the crop plants from being outcompeted by the weeds (for water and sunlight) and prevents the weeds from reaching their seed stage, thus reducing future weed population aggressiveness. ————————————————-
History of tilling[edit source | editbeta]
Tilling was first performed via human labor, sometimes involving slaves. Hoofed animals could also be used to till soil via trampling. The wooden plow was then invented. It could be pulled by mule,ox, elephant, water buffalo, or similar sturdy animal. Horses are generally unsuitable, though breeds such as the scyne could work. The steel plow allowed farming in the American Midwest, where tough prairie grasses and rocks caused trouble. Soon after 1900, the farm tractor was introduced, which eventually made modern large-scale agriculture possible. ————————————————-
Alternatives to tilling[edit source | editbeta]
Modern agricultural science has greatly reduced the use of tillage. Crops can be grown for several years without any tillage through the use of herbicides to control weeds, crop varieties that tolerate packed soil, and equipment that can plant seeds or fumigate the soil without really digging it up. This practice, called no-till farming, reduces costs and environmental change by reducingsoil erosion and diesel fuel usage. Researchers are investigating farming in polyculture that would eliminate the need for both tillage and pesticides, such as no-dig gardening.
The first step in planning a beekeeping project is to become familiar with the bee-human relationship in your area. Talk with those in the area who are involved with bees. Accompany them when they work with bees. If you have no experience working with bees, it is possible to learn a lot by working with local beekillers, bee-havers, or beekeepers. By knowing how they work, you can make suggestions for improvement with more credibility, and it will be easier to adapt an appropriate beekeeping technology to the area. Also, you should get through a couple of stinging incidents before committing yourself to beekeeping. Bee stings are an integral part of beekeeping. A beekeeper has to deal with them. Once you become familiar with the local bee-human relationship, ideas for introducing improved methods should be formulated.
Whom to work with? What equipment to use? Where to market hive products? If you are just beginning with bees you would probably be better off working with just one or two individuals in the area. By selecting farmers who have the respect of their peers and have good contacts in the community, your efforts will be multiplied. Keeping bees yourself and using methods different from those used in the area is a step in the right direction. Word will get out, and sooner or later you will be talking with your friends and neighbors about beekeeping. Always start beekeeping with at least two hives. This gives an opportunity to compare the progress between a number of hives, and more importantly, it allows the project to continue should one colony die out. Also, management aimed towards an apiary instead of individual hives can be stressed. In planning a project, set realistic goals. A small project which succeeds is more meaningful than a large one which is attempted but fails.
Change is slow. It must start with an idea. The successful presentation of an idea is a realistic expectation for introducing improved methods to the bee-human relationship in some areas. The equipment to be used in a project depends on the local situation. You should assess the availability of needed inputs as well as the technical aid available in choosing what type or types of hive equipment are appropriate. Identifying people in an area who can make beekeeping equipment and getting it made can be success in itself. it can require a lot of patience to coordinate getting the equipment together. Local outlets for marketing are available for hive products in most areas. Check for those people who are already using honey or beeswax. Often, they are eager for a steady supply of a good quality product. If not already using honey, local bakers and candy makers are a potential market. Check also with those who may provide potential markets
for beeswax. Beekeeping as an Integrated Activity Beekeeping is
| oil palm*|
| | citrus*|
| soybeans (some varieties)*|
Plants benefit from insect pollination by an increased seed set. This results in increased seed production and better quality fruits. Honey bees are beneficial as pollinators in those areas where natural insect pollinators are lacking or are insufficient to pollinate large areas devoted to a single crop. (Remember though, honey bees are not attracted to all crops.) People involved in forestry projects are often interested in beekeeping. Beekeeping is an income-yielding undertaking based on a forest resource, yet it is not destructive to that resource. Someone who is earning an income from beekeeping quickly becomes an advocate for preserving the forest resource. Beekeeping also lessens the likelihood of brush fires being set by honey hunters when they burn bees out of a wild colony. Tree species used in reforestation efforts which are also good bee forage can be instrumental in the establishment of a beekeeping industry. Beekeeping is a part of the utilization of a multi-purpose forest resource.
The following trees which are used for other purposes such as firewood, shelter belts, and shade also secrete sufficient nectar to produce yields of honey in some regions. As nectar secretion is dependent on many factors (climate, weather, and soil), a tree may not be a good nectar producer when introduced into a new region. Check to see if a tree species is a good nectar producer under the conditions which it will be growing before advocating its use as a nectar source for bees. | Acacia spp.|
| Albizia lebbek|
| Avicennia spp.|
| Calliandra calothyrus|
| eucalyptus camaldulensis|
| eucalyptus citriodora|
| eucalyptus globutus|
| Gliricidia sepium|
| Gemelina arborea|
| | Grevillea robusta|
| Guazuma ulmifolia|
| Inga vera|
| Pithecellobium dulce|
| Prosopis juliflora|
| Rhizophora spp.|
| Syzygium cumini|
(For more information on planting trees see PC Program and Training Journal Manual Series Number 5, Reforestation in Arid Lands. This is available from the PC Office of Information Collection and Exchange.) Beekeeping as an Educational Activity
Vocational and agricultural training centers and rural teacher training institutes make good sites to mount beekeeping projects. The trainees can have a multiplier effect in introducing beekeeping at the village level and the centers themselves serve as excellent demonstration sites. Beekeeping is also a good school or youth group project. Students and members of youth groups are the farmers of the future. They are receptive to new ideas and methods and can be helpful in conveying these to their parents. A demonstration apiary at a school not only provides a good educational opportunity, it can also provide some revenue. (Lesson Plans for Beekeeping, PC Reprint Series Number R32 available-from the PC Office of Information Collection and Exchange, is useful for teachers.)
Exhibits of bees, equipment, and hive products in regional fairs and meetings also serve to promote beekeeping and honey sales. Demonstrations actually working with colonies can help counter many popular fears of bees. An especially attention-getting demonstration is making an artificial swarm and then rehiving it (Appendix E). A glass-sided observation hive can create a lot of enthusiasm for bees. It affords a chance to study the bees at their hive activities, thus it is a great educational tool. since such a small hive often needs close attention and care to maintain, it gives many opportunities for teaching the management needs and practices of the colony. (See Appendix B for plans of an observation hive.)
Beekeeping as a Cooperative Activity
Beekeeping also works well in cooperatives. Many cooperatives have beekeeping projects as part of their activities. in some coops, beekeeping is the sole activity. These coops supply needed inputs, access to technical aid, and markets for honey and beeswax. In some cases, beekeeping coops have been very successful. (For more information on the organization and functioning of coops see PC Information Collection and Exchange Resource Packet P-5, Cooperatives, and Reprint R-14, Guidelines for Development of a Home Industry.) Funding for beekeeping projects can be sought from the types of institutions mentioned above. Many missions and private donor agencies involved in small scale agricultural projects are often interested in beekeeping
http://unllib.unl.edu/LPP/Library Philosophy and Practice 2011ISSN 1522-0222Rural Farmers’ Problems Accessing Agricultural Information: A Case Study of Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, NigeriaNnenna A. Obidike Nnamdi Azikiwe Library
University of Nigeria, NsukkaIntroductionRural farmers account for the greater part of the population of any developing country such as Nigeria. Governments of developing countries have a major responsibility of ensuring that there is adequate rural development in their various communities and local governments which would lead to effective and efficient agricultural systems that will not only supply food and animal protein but also foster the utilization of natural resources in a sustainable manner (CGIAR, 1995). When the rural farmers lack access to knowledge and information that would help them achieve maximum agricultural yield, they are not only grope in the dark but are driven to the urban centres in search of formal employment, as the only option for survival (Munyua, 2000).
Blait (1996) pointed out that the least expensive input for improved rural agricultural development is adequate access to knowledge and information in areas of new agricultural technologies, early warning systems (drought, pests, diseases etc), improved seedlings, fertilizer, credit, market prices etc. There have been short-comings of traditional print and library based methods (Van and Fortier, 2000) of providing such agricultural information to rural farmers who are generally illiterate and relatively remote from formal sources of information (e.g. extension stations, libraries). Aina (2007) also, was of the opinion that farmers would benefit from global information, if information centres, are cited in rural areas complete with all information and communication gadgets.Rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu state are not noted to produce enough food, probably due to some constraints that lead to lack of access to timely and up-to-date information which would have enabled them to achieve optimal yield from their farmlands.
Such information is highly desired by these farmers and can only be made available to them via extension workers, community libraries, state and local government agricultural agencies (ADP, ENADEP etc), e-mail or the World Wide Web (WWW) in a telecentre (Telecommons Development Group, 2000). In this modern day of information technology, telecentres provide the rural farmers with prompt and reliable information about what is happening in areas of improved seedlings, better methods of cultivation and fertilizer application, pest and weed control/eradication, new advances in livestock production and disease control etc.
Where rural farmers are not faced with constraints in accessing agricultural information, traditional media such as rural radio, has been used in delivering agricultural messages to rural farmers (Munyua, 2000). Other ways of delivering these messages or information to the rural farmers include print, video, television, films, slides, pictures, drama, dance, folklore, group discussions, meetings, exhibitions and demonstrations (Munyua, 2000).The lack of access to basic agricultural knowledge and information by rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State which may be as a result of certain constraints has made these farmers to stick to their old traditional methods of farming system and animal husbandry practice, hence resulting in poor crop and livestock productivity.
Information and knowledge are very vital in agricultural development of any community and where they are poorly disseminated as a result of certain constraints, the community’s agricultural development becomes highly impeded. Therefore, this study was designed to investigate the constraints of the rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State in accessing agricultural information.Statement of the ProblemOver the years, our rural farmers depend on indigenous or local knowledge for improved farming system/animal husbandry. Such knowledge (indigenous or local knowledge) refers to skill and experience gained through oral tradition and practice over many generations (Norem, et al., 1988). Acquisition of such primitive skill by our rural farmers (e.g. rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State) has not helped to improve agricultural yield. All that is witnessed in our rural agricultural system range from poor farm yield, emergence of new crop and animal diseases, resistant plant weeds and pests that attack farm crops, old farm implements, poor quality fertilizers etc.
Agricultural information are always meant to get to rural farmers via extension workers, community libraries, radio, television, film shows, agricultural pamphlets, state and local government agricultural agencies etc. Rural farmers in their effort to access these agricultural knowledge and information from available sources, for better farming system and improved agricultural yield, are confronted with certain constraints. The present study was therefore designed to identify the constraints which hinder rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu state from accessing agricultural information for improved crop production and better animal husbandry practice.Research QuestionsThree research questions were raised for this study and they include:1. What are the common sources of agricultural information which the rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State are more likely to access for better crop production and improved animal husbandry practice?2. What are the various types of farming systems practiced by the Nsukka rural farmers?
3. What are the constraints that rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State, encounter in their effort to access agricultural information for better crop production and improved animal husbandry practice?MethodologyFive towns in Nsukka Local Government area of Enugu State were randomly selected for this study. The selected towns are Nsukka, Obukpa, Ede-Oballa, Opi and Alor-uno. Twenty (20) farmers were sampled from each selected town and that made the total population of farmers sampled in the entire five towns to be 100.InstrumentTwo forms of instruments (questionnaire and scheduled interview) were used for data collection in this study. The section A part of the questionnaire required the rural farmers’ respondents to supply the necessary biodata and other information pertaining to their socio-economic characteristics. Section B part of the questionnaire contained the core questions that were raised for the study.
Each research question raised for the study had specific questions under it. The questionnaire was structured on a four-point Likert type of rating scale of Strongly Agreed (4 points), Agreed (3 points), Disagreed (2 points) and Strongly Disagreed (1 point). A total of 5 questions and 38 items were raised for the rural farmer respondents. Few selected farmers were also interviewed to enable the researcher gather more information on constraints of Nsukka rural farmers in accessing relevant agricultural information.
The interview questions were structured in line with those of the questionnaire.Data AnalysisData collected for the section A part of the questionnaire were analyzed using descriptive statistics, involving percentage. Analysis of data collected for the section B part of the questionnaire was based on four-point Likert rating scale (Nworgu, 2006). SPSS software was used to calculate the means of each item in each research question. Means and standard deviations of means (std) of each item in each question were calculated and presented. Items with means of 2.50 and above indicate agreement while items with means less than 2.50 indicate disagreement.ResultsBiodata and selected socio-economic characteristics of Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents.Table 1: Percentage gender distribution of Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents Gender| Percentage| Male| 69.8|
From the result of this study, majority of the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents are males-69.8%. Only 30.2% of the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents are females.Table 2: Percentage age range of Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents Age range in years| Percentage (%)| 10-15| 6.2|
66 and above| 1.0|
The 46-55 years age range of Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents are the most active group of rural farmers (49.9%) in the Nsukka LGA. 26.0% of the respondents fell within the age range of 36-45 years. Other respondents with their various age range are as follows: 10-15 (6.2%), 16-25 (9.4%), 26-35 (6.2%), 56-65 (4.2%) and 66 and above (1.0%).Table 3: Percentage distribution of the types of farming system practiced by Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents Farming systems| Percentage| Crop farming| 49.0|
Livestock farming| 51.0|
51.0% of Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents engage in livestock farming practice while 49% of the other respondents practice crop farming.Table 4: Percentage distribution of the different types of livestock farming system practiced by the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents Types of livestock farming| Percentage| West African Dwarf sheep and goats| 24.0|
Local chickens (Backyard poultry)| 10.4|
Broilers (Exotic poultry)| 8.3|
Layers (Exotic poultry)| 6.2|
Those who do not engage in any livestock practice| 16.7|
34.4% of the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents keep pigs. Other respondents keep West African Dwarf sheep and goats (24.0%), local chickens (Backyard poultry) (10.4%), broilers (exotic poultry) (8.3%), layers (exotic poultry) (6.2%). 16.7% of the respondents do not engage in any livestock farming system.Table 5: Descriptive statistics on types of agricultural information that the Nsukka rural farmers respondents have benefited from in the past Agricultural information| N| Mean| ± Std error| Introduction of new herbicides and pesticides/uses.| 96| 2.98| .085| Better crop rotation practices and fertilizer application.| 96| 2.69| .084| Types of soil and the best soil type for planting.| 96| 2.64| .080| Introduction of improved seedlings| 96| 3.34| .087|
Crop disease treatment and control.| 96| 2.96| .064|
Livestock disease treatment and control.| 96| 2.93| .070| Use of artificial insemination (AI) on local sheep and goats.| 96| 2.12| .076| New methods of crop preservation.| 96| 3.06| .114|
Introduction of new animal vaccines and drugs.| 96| 3.18| .134| The results of the Likert analysis of the data collected from the rural farmers’ respondents showed a wide range of agricultural information which these rural farmers have benefited from in the past. Such agricultural information include: introduction of new seedlings (3.34±.087), introduction of new vaccines and drugs (3.18±.134), new methods of crop preservation (3.06±.114), introduction of new herbicides and pesticides/uses (2.98±.085), crop disease treatment and control (2.96±.064), better crop rotation practices and fertilizer application (2.69±.084) and types of soil and best soil type for planting (2.64±.080)Table 6: Descriptive statistics on organs employed in accessing agricultural information in Nsukka LGA by the rural farmers’ respondents Organs used in dissemination agricultural information| N| Mean| ±Std| Community library| 96| 2.17| .078|
Newsletters| 96| 2.38| .067|
Posters| 96| 3.39| .079|
Exhibitions| 96| 2.40| .076|
Leaflets| 96| 2.95| .060|
Radio| 96| 3.61| .056|
Television| 96| 3.61| .063|
Extension workers| 96| 2.60| .092|
ADP/ENADEP agents| 96| 2.52| .099|
From the result of this study, the following were identified as organs used by the rural farmers’ respondents in Nsukka LGA in accessing agricultural information- posters (3.39±-079), radio (3.61±.056), television (3.61±.063), leaflets (2.95±.060), extension workers (2.60±.092) and ADP/ENADEP agents (2.52±.099).Table 7: Descriptive statistics on rating of problems that are associated with crop and livestock production in Nsukka LGA by Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents Constraints| N| Mean| ±Std| Destruction of crops by locust| 96| 3.30| .098|
Destruction of crops by farm worms| 96| 3.29| .091|
Destruction of crops by rain| 96| 2.36| .077|
Poultry diseases (Newcastle disease, Gomboro disease, fowl pox, etc.)| 96| 3.52| .080| Poor agricultural yield as a result of poor seedlings| 96| 3.58| .078| The rural farmers that were sampled in this study identified a wide range of constraints of farmers in Nsukka LGA vis avis crop and livestock production. The identified constraints or problems are poor agricultural yield due to poor seedlings (3.58±.078), poultry diseases (3.52±.080), destruction of crops by locust (3.30±.098) and destruction of crops by farm worms (3.29±.091).Table 8: Descriptive statistics on constraints encountered by the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents in their quest to access agricultural information from their community Constraints| N| Mean| ±Std| Poor public relation of the extension workers| 96| 3.43| .082| Inability to read and write (illiteracy)| 96| 3.40| .086| Poor radio and television signals| 96| 3.41| .069|
Agricultural information on radio and television is always aired at odd hours when farmers who desire such information have gone to their farms.| 96| 3.14| .105| Lack of rural electrification/constant power interruption in communities that have electricity supply| 96| 3.41| .087| Lack of access roads for easy community visit of extension workers| 96| 3.48| .077| Agricultural information is not broadcast on radio and television in Nsukka dialect.| 96| 3.30| .105| Lack of money to purchase newsletters, leaflets on agricultural information| 96| 3.41| .088| From this study, myriads of constraints are always encountered by the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents in their quest to access agricultural information for better crop and livestock production. Such constraints include: lack of access roads in their communities (3.48±.077), poor public relation of extension workers (3.43±.082), poor radio and television signals (3.41±.069), none availability of electricity/constant power interruptions in most Nsukka villages (3.41±.087), poor financial power to purchase newsletters, leaflets that publish relevant agricultural information (3.41±.088), illiteracy (3.40±.086) and agricultural information not being broadcast on radio and television in native Nsukka dialect (3.30±.105).
Table 9: Descriptive statistics on strategies that would help rural farmers in Nsukka LGA to mitigate the constraints that face them (rural farmers) in accessing agricultural information Measures that would help in mitigating the constraints of accessing agricultural information| N| Mean| ±Std| Construction of good access roads to enable regular visits by extension workers and other agricultural agents| 96| 3.65| .063| Building community libraries that would help in procuring books, newsletters, leaflets, etc on agricultural information| 96| 3.28| .081| Need for community rural electrification via the help of Enugu State government.| 96| 3.38| .092| Introduction of new power transformers to assuage power interruptions| 96| 3.51| .076| Installation of radio and television antennas at strategic places by radio and television co operations in the state to aid in better reception of radio and television signals.| 96| 3.54| .072|
Need to broadcast agricultural information on radio and television once a week, in native Nsukka dialect to enable the illiterate farmers understand and apply the innovations.| 96| 3.36| .098| Radio broadcast on agricultural information should be aired when majority of the rural farmers would have returned from their farms (2 and 3 pm).| 96| 3.41| .087| To mitigate the constraints of accessing agricultural information in Nsukka LGA, the rural farmers’ respondents positively rated the following measures: construction of good access roads leading to various Nsukka communities/villages (3.65±.063), installation of radio and television antennas at strategic position in Nsukka area to aid radio and television reception in towns and villages in Nsukka LGA (3.54±.072), mounting of electric transformers in villages/communities in Nsukka LGA (3.51±.076), airing of agricultural information programmes on radio between the hours of 2 and 3 pm when the rural farmers would have returned from their farms (3.41±.087), proper community rural electrification via the help of Enugu State government (3.38±.092), broadcasting of agricultural information on radio and television in Nsukka dialect (3.36±.098) and building of community libraries in Nsukka villages so as to help in furnishing some rural literate farmers with books, leaflets, newsletters etc on agricultural information (3.28±.081).
DiscussionIn this study, the percentage gender distribution of the rural Nsukka farmers’ respondents show that males (men) (69.8%) are more involved in farming work than females (women). Only 30.2% of the females were identified as farmers in this study. This observation is not surprising as farming activity is more or less a tedious work that requires enormous strength and energy. Nweke (1980) and King (1992) revealed that men perform more difficult farming operations, such as land preparation (clearing bushes and making of mounds and ridges) while women and children perform lighter operations, such as planting, fertilizer application, weeding etc.In the area of study (Nsukka LGA), majority of the rural farmers’ respondents who practice farming are in the age range of 46-55 years (49.9%).
Few of the respondents in the age range of 36-45 years (26.0%) also practice farming in their different communities. These days, the active young men and women (26-35 years and 36-45 years) who should form the bulk of the work force have deserted the rural communities and moved to the cities in search of government employment. Obviously this trend has not encouraged rural productivity as it has left farming in the hands of the old, the illiterate and very few energetic young men who live in the villages, perhaps only due to unavoidable circumstances (Adebayo, 1999). 49.9% of the rural farmers’ respondents in this study engage in crop farming while 51.0% practice livestock farming. Most of the livestock farmers’ respondents in Nsukka LGA keep pigs (34%) and West African Dwarf sheep and goats (24%).Having accessing to agricultural information is an essential ingredient that would always lead to better crop and livestock production in any community. Farmers in Nigeria seldom feel the impact of agricultural innovation either because they have no access to such vital information or because it is poorly disseminated (Ozowa, 1995).
In this study, the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents have in the past benefited from a wide range of agricultural information as evidenced from the result presented in Table 5. Some of the rural farmers’ interviewees reported that they have in the past received new improved maize seedlings and cassava stem (Manihut palmata) from ADP and ENADEP. All these are geared towards better maize and cassava production in Nsukka LGA. The rural farmers’ respondents have also benefited from distribution of new vaccines and drugs from the Enugu State ministry of Agriculture for healthy livestock production in Nsukka LGA. Other aspects of agricultural information which the rural farmers respondents have benefited from in the past as evidenced from the result of this study include: new methods of crop preservation, introduction of new herbicides and pesticides for the control of farm weeds and insect pests, methods of crop disease treatment and control, better systems of crop rotation and fertilizer application and types of soil and best soil type for planting.
Rural farmers are meant to know and also adopt agricultural innovations relevant to their situations. It is the duty of institutional and government organs (the Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services-AERLS, the extension services of the Agricultural Development Project-ADPs, Ministries of Agriculture at both state and federal levels, Media Forum for Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Centres-CEC of universities etc) to ensure that towns and villages in Nigeria have easy access to agricultural information for enhancement of crop productivity and better animal husbandry practice. From the result of this study (Table 6), the major organs used in accessing agricultural information by the rural farmers’ respondents in Nsukka LGA are posters, radio, television, leaflets, extension workers and ADP/ENADEP agents. Ozowa, (1995) stated that media such as leaflets, newsletters, posters, exhibition, visual aids and radio/television programmes are used in communicating agricultural information to towns and villages.
Radio and television (though controlled by government) are popular organs in disseminating agricultural information to rural farmers. Of all the existing channels of agricultural communication, Nigerian farmers rank extension (extension services/agents) highest in terms of providing credible information and advice, especially on agricultural technology (Ozowa, 1995). A major function of extension is to get the farmer into a frame of mind and attitude conducive to acceptance of technological change.Some crop and livestock production constraints or problems are encountered by the Nsukka rural farmers’ respondents in this study (Table 7). These constraints or problems include poor agricultural yield, poultry diseases, destruction of crops by locusts and destruction of crops by farm worms.
When Nsukka rural farmers have adequate access to agricultural information regarding to these identified crop and livestock constraints in Nsukka LGA, there is bound to be better production results. Poultry drugs and vaccines as well as pesticides from the state ministry of Agriculture will be able to take care of the ravaging poultry diseases and crop farm worms and pests menacing crops on farms.In most cases, when rural farmers try to have access to agricultural information, they are often groped with some constraints and the resultant effect of this is always poor agricultural yield. The result of this study revealed a good number of constraints which the rural farmers’ respondents encounter in accessing agricultural information from their communities.
These constraints are lack of access roads for regular visits by extension officers, poor public relation of some extension staff, poor radio and television signals, none availability of electricity supply in most Nsukka villages, lack of funds to purchase newsletters, leaflets on agricultural information; illiteracy and inability of radio and television stations in Enugu State to broadcast agricultural information programmes in native Nsukka dialect. Aina (2007) associated the following problems or constraints with dissemination of agricultural information in Africa:1. Inadequate financial power of farmers in Africa.2. African farmers are illiterate. Majority of them cannot read or write in any language.3. Farmers in Africa live in areas, where there is lack of basic infrastructure, such as telephone, electricity, good road network, pipe borne water etc.4. Few number of extension workers (the ratio of agricultural extension workers to farmers is low).5. Poor radio and television reception signals in most village communities in Africa.Some of the rural farmers interviewed frowned at the attitude of some extension workers who visit their area.
According to these rural farmers’ interviewees, some of the extension workers demand some money before they can give out vital agricultural information. This attitude of some extension staff will never help the rural farmers to achieve optimal farm yield.From the result of this study as presented in Table 9, a number of measures were identified by the rural farmer’ respondents as necessary strategies to mitigate the constraints experienced by Nsukka rural farmers in accessing agricultural information. These measures include construction of good access roads, installation of radio and television antennas at strategic positions in Nsukka for better radio and television signal receptions, mounting of electric transformers in villages/communities in Nsukka LGA, airing of agricultural information programmes on radio between the hours of 2 and 3 pm; when the farmers would have come back from their farms, provision of community rural electrification via the Enugu State government, broadcasting agricultural information programmes on radio and television in native Nsukka dialect and building of community libraries in towns and villages in Nsukka LGA.
Community libraries will no doubt help in procuring books, newsletters, leaflets on agricultural information which the literate farmers can borrow and read through. The community library staff can also partner with the state ministry of Agriculture to organism seminars and workshops on agricultural innovations for the rural farmers.ConclusionFor easy access and effective utilization of agricultural information in this digital age, there is need for establishment of information centres in all rural communities in Nigeria. Such information centres would be able to provide the rural farmers the desired agricultural information in a format that would be comprehensible to them, taking into cognizance the prevailing high illiteracy rate, cultural differences and limited technology (Aina, 2007). Nigerian rural farmers are still backward when it comes to latest developments in various areas of farming practices, e.g. telecommunication infrastructures.
Telecommunications infrastructure is a major aspect of information dissemination in the rural areas. According to Griffith and Smith (1994), telecommunications infrastructure connects homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, libraries to each other and to vast array of electronic information resources. Both the state and federal government should work towards the development of telecommunications infrastructure in all the rural areas (information centres) in Nigeria so as to help the rural farmers’ access agricultural information for optimal farm production. Information centres in every rural community should be equipped with up to date information and communication gadgets, such as computers with internet access, local area and wide area networks, radio and television sets, telephones and fax machines, multimedia projectors, video and audio recorders (Griffith and Smith, 1994).
The states and federal government should also consider the need for rural communities to have mini community libraries in their areas. By so doing, such community libraries would be able to engage the services of qualified librarians who would be in position to liaise with the staff of information centre in their area so as to help in capturing relevant agricultural information from Internet, ministries of agriculture and other agro allied establishments. Such captured information would then be repackaged in a format that the rural farmers would understand and put into practice for better farming operations. For effective dissemination of agricultural information in rural communities by extension staff, ADP and ENADEP workers, there is need for construction of good access roads that would lead to all the remote rural communities in the country.|
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