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History Of Agricultural Extension In Nigeria

As a meaning-bearing phrase, an agricultural extension is an approach that aims to provide uninformed farmers and their households with relevant information about new farming practices and techniques that can boost agricultural production and improve living standards.

Going by formal standards, agricultural extension adopts educational techniques in rendering assistance to farmers. { History Of Agricultural Extension In Nigeria }. The educational assistance or advice so rendered enables farmers to develop socially and understand how they can make agriculture a lasting source of substantial income.

History Of Agricultural Extension In Nigeria

  • General Conception of Agricultural Extension

In its global conception, agricultural extension was initiated with the intent of passing information to farmers who were not literate or who did not have any access to formal education. About 200 years ago, the word “extension’’ (particularly in relation to education) was first used in referring to a formal means of disseminating useful information and transferring knowledge.

Today, agricultural extension goes a great length to involve the transfer of scientific knowledge farmers requires understanding the use of modern technology. Undoubtedly, farming is associated with problems and for local farmers to solve the farming problems within them, they need comprehensive information on the use of modern technology. In this regard, agricultural extension has gained grounds everywhere in the world as a helpful approach to solving farming problems.

In addition to its basic purpose, agricultural extension integrates innovations with agriculture in a way intended to promote agriculture and make it a lasting solution to crises such as food shortage and low level of agricultural production. Moreover, agricultural extension brings to the awareness of farmers, a variety of farming alternatives from which they can select their preferences. Candidly, the agricultural extension comes with a number of advantages most of which are targeted at farmers. Meanwhile, some of its advantages are but not limited to:

  • Giving farmers distinct insights into how farming problems may be solved
  • Helping farmers connect with one another to discuss the conditions surrounding their activities
  • Raising farmers’ standards of living through collective reasoning
  • Disseminating information farmers need to diversify from crude farming to modernized farming

Historical Development of Agricultural Extension in Nigeria

Agricultural extension in Nigeria has lasted many years since its pre-independence evolution. During its infancy, the agricultural extension was an elementary scheme that focused primarily on crops. However, in recent times, it has been transformed into a professional scheme but with uncertainties surrounding its efficiency and effectiveness. Speaking plainly, Nigeria’s current agricultural extension scheme –which began precisely in the 1980’s –is yet to solve agricultural problems which can place it above an averagely-effective scheme. As regards its historical development, Nigeria’s agricultural extension may be divided into three main eras namely:

  • The colonial cum immediate post-independence era
  • The era of oil boom
  • The era of multi-state ADPs (Agricultural Development Projects)

The Colonial cum Immediate Post-Independence Era

This era began in 1893 and ended in 1968. It deserves the title “colonial cum immediate post-independence” because it started before Nigeria’s independence from British administration and was terminated only a few years after the independence. The extension approaches which took place during this era included:

  1. The colonial commodity extension approach: This approach initiated scientific agriculture in Nigeria. It began in 1893 and ended in 1921 and stimulated Nigeria’s first experience of direct government intervention in agricultural development. Under the control of British colonialists, this extension approach was accompanied by an agricultural policy aimed majorly at cash crops (such as groundnut, cotton, cocoa, oil palm, and rubber) required to boost the development of European agro-industries.
  2. The Ministry of Agriculture approach: This approach was initiated in 1921 particularly with the entrenchment of agricultural research stations in Samaru, Umudike and Moor in 1921, 1923 and 1924 respectively. Also, it welcomed the establishment of Regional Ministries of Agriculture in the western, eastern and northern parts of Nigeria.
  3. The revitalized commodity extension strategy: This extension approach focused great attention on special cash crops particularly in the regions where they are best grown. There was concentration on groundnut in northern Nigeria while oil palm and cocoa were produced massively in the East and the former Western Region respectively. At the time, the government paid little attention to food crops at the expense of the nation.
  4. The farm settlement/Institute Leavers’ Extension Strategy: This extension approach began in 1959 and collapsed as early as 1965. It was a developmental scheme aimed at encouraging community residents –particularly young school leavers –to uphold farming as a source of livelihood. In addition, the approach was intended to function as models for intensive extension services.
History Of Agricultural Extension in Nigeria
History Of Agricultural Extension in Nigeria

The Era of Oil Boom

The era of oil boom began in 1970 and continued until 1979. As part of its drawbacks, it crippled the entrenchment of an operative extension strategy as well as dynamic research for the production of food crops. Sadly, it acted as a menace to the effective development of agriculture especially in the aspect of food crop production. The main extension approaches instituted during the era of oil boom included:

  1. The National Accelerated Food Production Program (NAFPP): Through the adoption of agro-service centres, this strategy paved the way for an extension, research, and input supply.
  2. Operation Feed the Nation (OFN): Initiated under the 1976 military regime headed by Olusegun Obasanjo, OFN was an extension strategy that focused greatly on increasing the volume of food production. Sadly, it failed to materialize as a well-planned extension strategy and sooner than expected, it went into extinction.
  3. The River Basin Development Authority strategies (RBDAs): The establishment of RBDAs came about in 1977 as an approach to making good use of water resources for irrigation purposes. However, around 1984-85, RBDAs were not appointed extension responsibilities and this resulted in their failure to cater for farmers’ extension needs.
  4. The Green Revolution: This extension approach was instituted in 1979 to serve as an effective replacement for the ineffective OFN (Operation Feed the Nation). Its main purpose was to help Nigeria achieve reasonable standards in food self-sufficiency within a five-year period. However, it eventually failed as a result of poor planning and lack of concentration amongst other factors.
  5. The Pilot (Enclave) Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs): This extension approach was launched in 1975 with pilot projects in Nigerian areas of Gusau, Gombe, and Funtua.

The Era of Multi-State ADPs

This era of agricultural extension began in 1984 and has remained effective till the present time with an ADP (Agricultural Development Project) in each of Nigeria’s 36 States including the Federal Capital Territory [Abuja].

That’s all about history Of Agricultural Extension In Nigeria.


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