PERCEPTION OF INSTITUTIONAL AND MANPOWER FACTORS CONSTRAINING AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION SERVICES IN BENUE STATE AGRICULTURAL AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
The overall purpose of the study was to determine the perception of extension staff of manpower and institutional factors that constrain agricultural extension services in Benue State Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (BNARDA). The study was guided by three research purposes, namely: to describe the respondents’ socio-economic characteristics; to determine the perception of the extension staff on the number of extension staff as a manpower constrain; and to examine the extension staff perception of agricultural extension policies as institutional constraint. The study was carried out in Benue State, one of the North-central states in Nigeria. The population of the study comprised the BNARDA extension staff at the head quarters, the zonal managers of agricultural zones in the state, and the BNARDA field extension staff assigned to extension services in the state. The multi-stage sampling technique was used to select 2 state headquarters, 2 zones, 18 workers from the 2 zones, 36 blocks and 72 village extension agents. This resulted to the total of 117 respondents at different levels in BNARDA extension service as the sample for the study. A set of structured questionnaire was used to elicit information from the respondents. Percentage, mean and standard deviation statistics were used to analyse the data collected. The results of the study showed that majority of the BNARDA extension agents are male (64.2%) as against the 36.8% who are women; majority of BNARDA extension agents are in their middle age with an average mean of 43.5 years; majority of the BNARDA extension agents (58.1%) possess university degree and/or Higher Diploma (B.Sc/B.Ed/HND); as much as 42.7% of the BNRADA staff have been into extension service for 21 years and above, with the mean of 20.5 years indicating that BNARDA staff are well experienced (in terms of the number of years in service) in their duty; and as much as 40.2% of the respondents have worked as BNARDA extension workers for 21 years and above. pThe mean number of years as BNARDA extension staff by the respondents is 19.5 years. This means that the BNARDA staff are well informed about the activities of BNARDA over many years and are therefore in good positions to provide the relevant information for any improvement of BNARDA. The findings from the study also revealed that BNARDA has been unable to deliver some aspects of its extension service objectives because it is lacking the necessary number of extension workers (manpower) to carry out these services. In spite of this, the study revealed also that technical knowledge, skills and experiences of recruited extension staff do not constitute constraints to BNARDA’s service delivery. With regard to the influence of structures and implementation of agricultural extension policies as institutional factors that can influence extension service delivery, the findings of the study showed that they constitute part of the institutional constraints that negatively influence the extension service delivery offered by BNARDA staff. The findings also revealed that there has been consistent lack of remuneration and incentives for BNARDA staff and that this has negatively influenced the extension service delivery offered by the BNARDA staff and indeed the purpose for the establishment of BNARDA as an agricultural project aimed at improving the conditions of the people in Benue State. Based on the major findings of this study, it was recommended among other things, that as long as the objectives of agricultural programmes are still considered to be of some importance, the number of BNARDA extension workers helping in the realization of the objectives of agricultural projects need to be increased.