BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Attitude is the degree of positive or negative impact related to psychological objects and one major approach to see the impact of extension service is to start with the farmers’ attitude. The employment of addition qualified and knowledgeable extension agents, particularly subject matter specialist and the adoption of the farmer first approach to agricultural analysis and development are suggested for farmers to indicate a positive attitude towards the extension service (Oladosu, 2012). As technology improves by the day, several approaches have evolved and been applied to ensure effective dissemination of extension service so as to improve the living standard of rural farmers in Nigeria. It was within the cause of this quest that it was absolutely found that the role of rural farmers was very important and could not be undermined when targeting an increase in productivity and living standard of the farmers. Extension service is particularly important to farmers in order to increase their agricultural production by transferring information aimed at increasing knowledge, attitude and skills of the farmers. More so, in many developing countries, agricultural development is hinged on extension services by helping farmers to identify, analyze and link with research on their production problems. They also create awareness on opportunities for improvement of farm yields leading to increased income and better standard of living (Van den ban and Hawkins, 1998; Balantyne and Bokre, 2003). Agriculture is the key to Nigerian economy accounting for about forty percent of GDP and employing about 70% of the active population of over 140 million individuals. More than half of the populations live in the rural area. It is without contest the leading agricultural power and also the largest market in West Africa. 82 million hectares out of Nigeria’s total land of 91 million hectares were found to be arable. However, only 42% of the cultivable area was farmed and the majority of farmers have an average farm size of 1.2 ha. Agriculture remains a key component of Nigeria’s economy, but, the sector significantly underperformed its potentials. Agricultural extension as a system aims to exchange information and transfer skills between farmers, extension workers and researchers to help identify farming problems. This is achievable through an off-the-cuff, adult coaching, communicating with individual members of farmers community advice, an assistance with respect to knowledge and methods of technical agriculture, with due consideration of the economic and social circumstances of the individual and other people collectively. In a nut shell extension is an educational process that uses varieties of methods designed to help farmers improve living standard. Similarly, extension methods could be used for understanding the best ways to handle farmers so as to meet their need. Extension organization seeks for employees who are competent in at least five different areas. Namely, technical competency or level of knowledge and understanding related to the crops and livestock that farmer produces; economic competence, or the ability to weigh alternative productive input and output to determine whether the adoption of new idea is advantageous; science competency or an understanding of the philosophy of science and ability to conduct simple field experiment to test an innovation and assess result. Traditionally, extension was concentrating on training farmers, increasing production and transferring technology. Today’s understanding of extension goes beyond technology transfer to facilitation, beyond training to learning and helping farmers to help themselves, in other words assisting farmers on how to think not on what to think. Nigeria has the largest national agricultural research and extension NRES), made up of 17 commodity-based research institute, specialized national agricultural extension institute, 18 faculties of agriculture in regular federal universities, 3 specialized university of agriculture, and one international agricultural research Centre (IITA). In Nigeria, agricultural development program (ADP) plays the role of extension delivery services in the agricultural sector. It refers to the research institute for improved technology, in order to effectively deliver services to the farmers. The problems that emanate from agriculture at grass root levels are transfer to the scientist by the extension personnel and the solution in form of improved technology are disseminated to the farmers for implementation. The major challenges of Nigeria’s agricultural extension services have been identified to include: lack of legislated agricultural extension policy, inadequate and untimely funding, poor leadership and coordination, low private participation, very weak research-extension-farmer inputs linkage system driven by ineffective top-down, supply-driven extension approaches. Ayesha and Mohammad  reported that in many developing countries, wide adoption of research results by majority of farmers remains quite limited. This situation calls for smooth flow of information from farmers to researchers and from researcher to farmers this passage is provided by agricultural extension services. But, unfortunately extension services have failed in performing its role efficiently and effectively. This research work is to find out the attitude of cocoyam farmers towards hiring agricultural extension services.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Need of agricultural information is the basic necessity for the farmers as it plays a pivotal role in enlightening them, raising their level of knowledge and eventually help in their decision making process regarding farming activities. Extension workers with their extension services are doing this noble work. According to Anandajayasekeram , in a rapidly changing world, food and agricultural innovation system are facing new and increasing complex challenges: Fighting poverty, ensuring food security and improving living standard of farmers. New mechanism to foster development and diffusion of innovation are needed to strengthen the ways in which information, knowledge and technology are developed and disseminated to ensure that the global changes benefit small holder farmer. Similarly, agricultural extension service operates from the backdrop belief that increased agricultural productivity depends primarily upon the acceptance of improved cultural and technological changes at the rural farm level and that peasant farmers can achieve higher farm yields only if they adopt recommended scientific farming techniques in place of their traditional practices. These could only be channelled through effective extension services which are assessed from the farmers’ view point. However, extension services in Nigeria perform poorly.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to examine the attitude of cocoyam farmers towards hiring of agricultural extension services. Other general objectives of the study are:
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: There is no significant impact of agricultural extension services on cocoyam farmer’s production.
H1: There is a significant impact of agricultural extension services on cocoyam farmer’s production.
H0: There is no significant relationship between socio economic characteristics of cocoyam farmers and attitude of farmers towards extension services.
H1: There is a significant relationship between socio economic characteristics of cocoyam farmers and attitude of farmers towards extension services.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study will be of good help to policy makers, the government and those who are interested in improving agricultural activities. This research will bring out farmers view point on the effectiveness of extension service provided by Imo State government of Nigeria through Agricultural Development Program (ADP). Hence, preconditions for extension agents to be effective include ability to communicate, attitude to extension work, frequency of contact with farmers and field responsibility, which are all examined on farmers` view point. More so, extension effectiveness will be determined by the level of awareness of extension service created among farmers. This research will assist in providing more information about farmers and government effort toward agricultural development, hence aid in policy formulation on agricultural extension service.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the attitude of cocoyam farmers towards hiring of agricultural extension services, a case study of Orlu L.G.A, Imo state.
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Agriculture: This is the process of producing food, feed, and fibre by cultivation of certain plant and the raising of domesticated animal. It is a general term per productive activities like growing as crops, raising of animal (including poultry) fishing and forestry.
Farmers: An individual whose primary job function involves livestock and/or agriculture. A farmer takes all the necessary steps to ensure proper nourishment of the items that he/she raises and then sells the items to purchasers. Some farmers have been able to capitalize on the need for high-demand products that they produce, such as organic vegetables and livestock.
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