A Study of Adoption and Diffusion of Agricultural Innovation Among Peasant Farmers in Lagos and Ogun States of Nigeria
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Agricultural development is contigent upon the dissemination of useful and utilizable research findings to farmers in the form and language that can be easily understood and internalized by them. Nigeria, like many other developing countries of the world, is faced with a number of problems of modernizing agriculture. Many recommended agricultural practices and innovations lack relevance to farmers' needs and problems. Sustained growth in agriculture leading to improved living conditions of the rural peasantry does not reside principally in the supply of a battery of technological inputs, such as improved seeds, fertilizers, pest and disease control measures to farmers, and market information but foremost in pursuing a deliberate rural educational and developmental policy that is capable of improving the living conditions of the rural peasantry. In the first and second Republic, various agricultural modernization schemes were pursued by various governments, but the end result was very disappointing. The country, to say the least, has not been able to feed its citizens, hence mass importation of food items prevailed till late 1984. Though farming still remains the second important source of our revenue generation, the methods and technique of farming remain basically crude and primitive. The traditional farming practices have persisted over time, mostly because the peasants are predominantly illiterate. To modernize agriculture, certain variables must co-operate and work in concert with the deliberate intervention programmes of the government.This study examined among other things what combination of factors best predisposed rural peasant farmers to adopting recommended agricultural innovations. The study further examined critically inhibitors and accelerators of diffusion and adoption of agricultural processes.This study tested the following seven hypotheses:(i) that illiterate and literate farmers will equally adopt recommended agricultural practices; (ii) that age has no significant relationship with the adoption of recommended agricultural innovations;(iii) earlier adopters will not utilize more information sources that are in close contact with the origin of new ideas than later adopters; (iv) that late and early adopters will discontinue recommended practices at the same time; (v) communication factor will not largely influence farmers predisposition to adopting recommended agricultural practices; (vi) that professional training of the VAES will not significantly affect their attitude and perception, and (vii) that situational / locational factor will not affect adoption behaviour of farmers significantly. Questionnaire instruments were developed and administered to three hundred and fifty (350) farmers and one hundred village extensioners respectively. Of these numbers, 250 and 100 respectively were returned. One hundred and fifty and seventy five questionnaires were usable in each group. 8 The data were analysed using the SPSS discriminant analysis computer programme. Results showed that education, age, communication factor, contact with origin of scientific technology and situational/locational factors were significant or critical factors that influenced the adoption-behaviour of peasants. Professional training of the VAES coupled with their cultural background greatly influenced their perception of the extension work. Illiteracy was also found to be a critical inhibitor of diffusing and adoption of complex agricultural innovations.To improve the rate of adoption of useful innovations among rural peasants, Extension Education Programmes were urged: (i) to adopt holistic or integrated development strategies through mass participation of their clientele; (ii) to provide forms of educational other than agricultural education that aim at better life of the rural people, and (iii) to establish more efficient input delivery system and encourage the participation of the clientele-farmers in the planning of their own learning programmes. Concluding, this study advocated the establishment of more Agricultural Training Institutes for Extension workers. It recommended that greater attention should be paid to methodological issues of diffusing ideas, innovations and new technologies among rural peasants.