AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION NEEDS OF FARMERS IN TELFARIA PRODUCTION AND MARKETING IN ENUGU NORTH AGRICULTURAL ZONE OF ENUGU STATE, NIGERIA
The study was carried out to determine the agricultural extension needs of farmers in Telfaria production and marketing in Enugu north agricultural zone of Enugu state, Nigeria. Four Local Government Areas (LGAs) namely: Udenu, Nsukka, Igbo-Etiti and Uzo-Uwani were used for the study out of the six Local Government Areas that make up both Nsukka and Enugu zones of Enugu north agricultural zone. In each of these Local Government Areas, two town communities were purposefully selected based on the dominance of Telfaria production and marketing. These town communities were Ozalla and Ohodo from Igbo-Etiti, Ede-Oballa and Opi from Nsukka, Adani and Opanda from Uzo-Uwani and Obollo-Afor and Orba from Udenu Local Government Areas. In each of the 8 town communities, 20 respondents were selected giving a total of one hundred and sixty (160) respondents. Data collection instruments used were interview schedule and questionnaire. Data collected were analyzed using frequency counts, percentage, mean scores, standard deviation and factor analysis. The personal characteristics of farmers, extension needs, marketing information and channels, and production and marketing systems were analyzed using frequencies, percentages, mean scores and standard deviation while production and marketing constraints were analyzed with mean scores and factor analysis. The result of the study showed that majority (58.1%) of the farmers were females, the mean age of the farmers was 33.4 years, majority (66.9%) were familied while majority (94.4%) of them obtained formal education. The household size was high as majority (73.8%) had a household population of 1 – 9 persons, 63.1% were part time Telfaria producers, 55.6% produced in a small scale while a good proportion (40.6%) had 1 – 4 years Telfaria farming experience. The extension needs of farmers as analyzed revealed that greater percentage (63.1%) had no extension contact and the few (36.9%) that had did not havre contacts often as majority (57.7%) indicated. Areas information were received were mainly (54.2%) on planting and post planting operations. However, farmers needed assistance in sourcing farm input (M = 3.62), appropriate marketing channel (M = 3.18) and other factors such as sourcing farm credit, tools, seed processing and other areas. In the production systems, about 50% planted between April and June, 48.12% planted on seed beds, 59.4% treated seeds before planting mainly with wood ash. The cropping system used was mainly mixed cropping and the respondents applied various forms of single, compound and organic fertilizers through broadcasting method at 4 weeks interval. Majority (62.6%) controlled pests and diseases as well as weeds mainly through cultural and biological methods. All (100%) the farmers harvested with sharp razor blades and knives and majority (55.5%) harvested at 1 – 2 weeks interval. Most (56.9%) of the farmers marketed locally and some marketing factors such as season of the year, quality of produce, number of buyers, distance, weight measures and location determined the level of sales. The major constraints to effective production and marketing of the crop included infrastructural, technical, logistics and financial constraints. In conclusion, the study revealed that there are extension needs of Telfaria producers. It is therefore recommended that various extension agents posted to different locations should embark on creating vigorous awareness on the production practices of the crop to redirect the farmers towards appropriate strategies for the effective production and marketing of the crop.