An Investigation on the Utilization of Information and Communication Technology (Ict) Among Agricultural Extension Workers in Nigeria.
1.1 Background of the study
The value and significance of appropriate and timely accessible information in the life and direction of any organization cannot be over stressed, since diligent and objective observation have demonstrated that no individual or organization can achieve its objectives while functioning in a vacuum. Information may be utilized as a tool, resources, commodity or product. The rising value and usage of information as a commodity have given rise to the demand for the development of quicker and more efficient systems for gathering, storing and transmitting it. While the achievement of these have further resulted to the proliferation of various types of information services, as well as information professionals using new technology, and the technology with the greatest impact on information are those that deal with information storage, processing and dissemination, which in this context fits what the term information and communication technology (ICT) imply. Eke (2006) identified the ICT as the sort of technology that link the computer to the global telecommunication network to enable feasible for users to acquire, process, calculate, store and broadcast oral, written and graphical information. Although this definition adequately supports the conception of ICT as a tool, it went further to add the process characteristics, by presupposing that ICT embraces all the technologies that enables the handling of information which in turn facilitates the different forms of communication between man and the electronic systems such as the radio, television, cellular phone, computer networks and satellite systems. The use of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in agricultural extension and rural development in recent times is noteworthy, considering their broad application in practically all sectors of rural life—namely agriculture, health, and general social development.
According to the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA, 2003), ICT has offered a means for rural residents in various African nations to effectively receive agricultural information, despite the persisting challenges of access, connection, literacy, content, and prices. With special reference to Nigeria, Adebayo and Adesope (2007) recognized ICT as a highly essential aspect in the Nigerian agricultural sector in current times, but it is still a new idea, and a growing number of experts are realizing its value for academic and development work. This is more so the case with the abundance of information in Internet- (e.g., HINARI, AGORA, and OARE) and non-Internetbased resources (e.g., The Essential Electronic Agricultural Library), for development and research work in the fields of health, agriculture, and the environment (Hinari 2010). Nevertheless, Omotayo (2005) observed that Nigeria’s relative slowness in recognizing the importance of information, as well as in its awareness and use of ICT, had caused it to lag behind, as most institutions charged with providing agricultural extension services still persist in overreliance on the use of extension agents, with the agent-to-farm-family ratio estimated at 1:3000 (Bolarinwa & Oyeyinka, 2011).
Comparatively though, extension agents may be the most effective information source for farmers but surely not the most efficient, as indicated by the high cost, amount of coverage, and time. According to Van den Ban & Hawkins, (1998) asserts that It is therefore clear that, no matter how effective extension delivery through the village extension service is, it can neither be efficient nor cost effective for a developing country like Nigeria, with a whopping population of about 150 million, the majority of whom are engaged in one form of agricultural enterprise or another.
On the other hand, Omotayo (2005) highlighted that agricultural extension depends substantially on information sharing between and among farmers and a broad variety of other players. Therefore, frontline extension workers, who are the direct link between farmers and other actors in the Agricultural Knowledge and Information System (AKIS), should be well-positioned to make use of ICT to access expert knowledge or other types of information that could facilitate the accomplishment of their routine activities.
1.2 Statement of the problem
Due to inadequate staff, information communication technologies (ICTs) have become an attractive choice for transmission of extension information in agriculture sector. Many reasons have been put out in favor of deployment of ICT both for agricultural information distribution and subsequent usage by farmers, notably in Nigeria. With the government’s liberalization and privatization policies to encourage private-sector participation and attract foreign investments, a drastic reduction in the prices of computer and other ICT equipment has occurred in recent years, thus making them more accessible, particularly given the proliferation of cybercafes in all major towns and even in semi-urban locations. The development of Global System for Mobile (GSM) communications has made phone (an essential ICT) equally available nationwide. Salau and Saingbe (2008) suggest that the moment is opportune for the implementation of ICT by both researchers and extension workers to transfer relevant information to farmers in a more efficient method. Nevertheless, restrictions such as access, connectivity, and content frequently accompany this ICT revolution, forcing development professionals to struggle with the double difficulty of the literacy level of farmers and the expensive costs of ICT resources, especially in poor nations. The awareness and use of these technologies among farmers, who grapple with challenges inherent in inadequate extension personnel for extension service delivery and their own self-efficacy (education), must be better understood, with a view to determining how farmers can best be reached and served by the ICT revolution. Therefore, this study investigation on the utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) among Agricultural extension workers in Nigeria.
1.3 Objective of the study
The broad objective of this study is to examine utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) among Agricultural extension workers in Nigeria. Specifically the study will;:
- Assess the importance to technology-based tools to Agricultural extension workers.
- Examine the extent at which agricultural extension workers utilizes Information and Communication Technology in their job.
- Determine the challenges that hinders agricultural extension workers utilization of Information and Communication Technology in their job.
1.4 Research Questions
The study will be guided by the following question
- What is the importance to technology-based tools to Agricultural extension workers?
- What is the extent at which agricultural extension workers utilizes Information and Communication Technology in their job.
- What are the challenges that hinders agricultural extension workers utilization of Information and Communication Technology in their job.
- What can be done to encourage agricultural extension workers to utilizes Information and Communication Technology in their job
1.5 Significance of the study
This will be significant to agriculture sector as it seeks to provide a diagnostics basis for solving problems associated with agricultural extension workers utilization of Information and Communication Technology in their job. It might also help to change their attitude toward this ICT tools they have in possession. Also, it will enlightened the farmers on the essence of GSM as a faster means of disseminating information using various platform equipped on the GSM and not for making Voice call alone which is the primary purpose which an average farmer acquires a GSM, there is need for farmers to know that internet is also a vital medium of disseminating information about challenges encountered during mechanized farming and finding a lasting solution to it.Finally, the study would contribute empirically to the body of existing literature and it would serve as a reference source to students or other researchers who might want to carry out their research on the similar topic.
1.6 Scope of the study
The scope of this study borders on the utilization of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) among Agricultural extension workers in Nigeria. It will assess the importance to technology-based tools to Agricultural extension workers. It will examine the extent at which agricultural extension workers utilizes Information and Communication Technology in their job. It will determine the challenges that hinders agricultural extension workers utilization of Information and Communication Technology in their job.
1.7 Limitation of the study
Like in every human endeavour, the researchers encountered slight constraints while carrying out the study. The significant constraint was the scanty literature on the subject owing to the nature of the discourse thus the researcher incurred more financial expenses and much time was required in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection, which is why the researcher resorted to a limited choice of sample size. Additionally, the researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. More so, the choice of the sample size was limited to extention workers as few respondent were selected to answer the research instrument hence cannot be generalize to other aspect of agriculture. However, despite the constraint encountered during the research, all factors were downplayed in other to give the best and make the research successful.
1.9 Definition of terms
Internet: a worldwide computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities, consisting of interconnected networks using standardized communication protocols.
GSM: (Global System for Mobile communications) is a standard developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe the protocols for second-generation digital cellular networks used by mobile devices such as tablets.
ICT: Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals) and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage and audiovisual, that enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
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