1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The success of agricultural development programmes in developing countries largely depends on the nature and extent of use of mass media in mobilizing farmers who live mostly in rural areas for the need for development. Communication has been acknowledged for playing, a prominent role in the success of agricultural production and adoption of innovations through programmes aired. The planners in developing countries realized that the development of agriculture could be hastened with the effective use of mass media (GCRA, 2003). Mass media has been defined as any material, objects, instruments or system which serves to communicate information including letters, pamphlets, and other written and printed materials, all types of cinema films, radio, television and video system (Adams, 1982).
Several channels such as the extension agent, individuals, farmers-to-farmers contact, print media (news papers, magazines, news letter, pamphlet and posters) and electronics media (Radio, television, and film schedules and films trips) have been widely used to disseminate information to farmers in rural area (Van & Hawkins, 1992; Olowu & Oyedokun, 2000).
Among the mass media means of communication, radio is found to be the most important means of communicating agricultural information to the rural farmers. In the opinion of (Kuponiyi, 2000), radio is one of the broadcast medium which the rural populations are very familiar with and which almost all experts identified to be the most appropriate for rural emancipation programme. This is because radio beats distance and has immediate effect on farmers. Furthermore, radio is favored as a medium of communication in rural communities because of the advantages ascribed to it, inform of transcending the barrier of illiteracy and demanding less intellectual exertion than the print media massages (Folarin, 1990).
Absence of a functional agricultural information delivery system is a major constraint to agricultural development in Nigeria. Aina, (1989) identified non-provision of necessary agricultural information as a key factor limiting agricultural development in Nigeria. According to Youdeowei (1995), lack of access to relevant agricultural information by farmers in developing countries cuts across all subsectors of agriculture and different stages of agricultural production process.
Farmers need to be informed and educated about improved agricultural practices to enable them increase their productivity and income. Radio is one broadcast medium which almost all experts identify to be the most appropriate for rural emancipation programme. This is because a radio set is cheap to obtain and is widely owned in the rural areas. This is made possible by the advent of the battery-operated transistorized sets.
The terms rural radio have come to be used to describe FM stations established to broadcast to a local and predominantly rural audience. The growth of rural radio stations over the past few decades reflects both the improvements in information technologies and the shifting development paradigm towards a more participatory style of information and knowledge transfer.
Rural area based radio is the focus of this study because the predominantly agricultural audiences of these stations can benefit from information to improve their livelihoods. Radio initiatives as part of broader communication for development strategies have been used by international organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations since the late 1960s.
Radio stations set up in rural areas have a predominantly agricultural clientele. Whether those who run them are pursuing the development objectives of the station’s funder or simply aiming to entertain, they are aware that agricultural issues are very high on their listeners’ priorities. However, agricultural extension systems have only shifted to more participatory approaches relatively recently and so much of their early efforts used the top-down technical scientific information approach which tended to ignore the diversity of both local agricultural problems and the farmers’ existing knowledge and skills. Other social development sectors, such as health and education, have been more effective, using rural radio to communicate messages to a target community or a specific demographic group. In many areas radio stations have become highly valued for interacting with specific disadvantaged groups and for handling complex social problems.
The ITV Radio, Benin City, Edo state, owned by Sir Chief G.O. Igbinedion was inaugurated by the Oba of Benin, Omo ‘N’ Oba Nedo, Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediawa on Saturday 7th November 1998 urging the Station’s operators to carry out their objectives with the same zeal for the running of Independent Television which was founded a year earlier and has demonstrated excellence. There has been the acquisition of State of the Art digital ultra-high-tech virtual studios equipment including high definition cameras, teleprompters, virtual studio components, complete digital studio lightening systems and a digital sound console. The station is located at Iguosa, an outskirts of Benin where rural farmers can easily receive clear signals of ITV radio.
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