ASSESSMENT OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT AGRICULTURAL ACTIVITIES IN RIVERS STATE, NIGERIA
The study assessed Local Government agricultural activities in Rivers State, Nigeria. Specifically, the study was designed to: identify the types of agricultural activities implemented; ascertain level of local participation in agricultural activities; ascertain perceived benefits of agricultural activities; assess status of agricultural funding for agricultural development; identify areas of linkages between LG and agricultural agencies and ascertain factors inhibiting LG executing agricultural activities. Eighteen communities from nine Local Government Areas (LGAs) were selected by multi-stage sampling technique from the twenty three LGAs in the state. A total of two hundred and seven (207) respondents made up the sample size for the study. Questionnaire and interview schedule were the instrument used for data collection. Data collected were analyzed using frequency, percentage, chart, mean statistics and factor analysis. Socio economic attributes (age, sex, educational level, occupation, income, etc) on participation was ascertained using multiple regression.. The hypothesis was tested at 5% level of significance Findings revealed that 37.1% of the LG staff, 30.6% of households’ heads were within the age range of 40-49 years, majority (74.1% and 66.7%) of the LG staff and households heads, respectively were married. All (100%) of the LG staff were educated while 81.4% of the households were educated and the main occupation of LG staff was civil service while half (50.3%) of the households heads depended mainly on farming. Building of market ranked first (1st) as the dominant agricultural activity followed by fisheries sub-sector and establishment ofr poultry farms that ranked second and third, respectively. Local people participated at the implementation (50.0%) stage of agricultural activities, 10% participated at the planning stage and 3.3% participated at the diagnostic stage. Poverty reduction (M=3.17), reduced rural-urban migration (M= 3.06), increased employment opportunities (M=3.14), provision of raw materials for local industries (M=3.02), increase food supply (M= 3.10) and increased interest in agriculture (M=3.13) were perceived benefits of agricultural activities. Khana was the LGA that spent the highest (6.37%) (N600000) on agriculture from a mean annual allocation of N6.9m. Linkages existed between LG and Agricultural Development Project (ADP) (M=2.62), International Fund for Agricultural Development (M=2.55), and FADAMA III (M=2.62) in the areas of joint use of farmers, joint use of staff and joint funding of project. Corruption (M=2.58), non- continuity of projects (M=2.54), politicizing of selection of participants (M=2.37), poor interest of the community people (M=2.23) and low budgetary allocation (M=2.78) were seen as inhibiting factors to LG administration implementing agricultural activities. There was a significant (p<0.05) influence of socio economic attributes (education, occupation and income) of households on participation.