ROLE PERFORMANCE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCILS IN AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN SOUTH-EAST NIGERIA
The study assessed the role performance of local government councils in agricultural development in south-east Nigeria. Specifically, the study was designed to: ascertain role expectations of LGCs agriculture departments as perceived by LG agriculture/veterinary department staff and farmers, determine agricultural role achievements of LGCs as perceived by LG staff and farmers, ascertain LGs’ funding for agriculture from 2007 to 2011, identify linkages that exist between farmers, LGCs and agricultural development agencies/projects/programmes such as ADP, CADP etc. and identify factors that militate against performance of LGCs in agricultural development. Four states namely: Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi and Enugu were used for the study. Structured Interview schedule/self-administered questionnaire, and oral interview were used for data collection. Secondary data were collected from annual budget and expenditure profiles of the LGCs. Only 324 copies of questionnaire were used for analysis. Data on personal characteristics were presented using percentage, mean scores and standard deviation. Five point Likert-type scale was used to measure role achievement; four point and three point scales were used to measure role expectation and factors inhibiting role performance of LGCs, respectively. The decision points of the mean scores were ≥ 3.0, ≥ 2.5 and ≥ 2.0, respectively. Linkages between LGCs, farmers and agricultural programmes were presented in percentage. Students’ t-test was used to test for differences between the opinions of LG staff and farmers on LGCs’ role expectations and achievements, while factors inhibiting role performance of LGCs were further subjected to factor analysis. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to test differences in fund allocations among the four states at 5% probability level. Majority (80.4%) of the farmers were literate and about 34% completed higher education. A considerable percentage (57.2%) of farmers was male while 53.r0% of the staff was female. Many (54.1%) of the staff obtained degree certificates (B.Sc/HND and M.Sc/Ph.D). There was general inadequacy of sufficient number of trained staff in agriculture departments of most of the LGs. The mean scores of the respondents on role expectation were provision of water scheme (LG staff; ıı =2.3, farmers; ıı =2.6), road network (LG staff; ı̅=2.6, farmers; ı̅=2.7) and tractors (LG staff; ıı =2.2, farmers; ıı =2.5). The mean scores on role achievement by LGCs were provision of processing plants (LG staff; ıı =3.7, farmers; ıı =2.1), bore-holes (LG staff ıı =4.1, farmers; ıı =2.3). There were significant differences (p≤ 0.05) between LG staff and farmers’ perception on expected agricultural roles and role achievement of LGCs. The means of the fund allocation varied significantly (p≤ 0.05) among the four states. Small percentages of funds allocated to LGs were allocated to agriculture department. Over the five-years period, mean fund allocation for agriculture development was highest in Abia State (ıı =N81,812,408.60) and lowest in Ebonyi State (ııııı =N1,953,333.20). Respondents indicated that there were linkages between LGCs and RTEP in training of staff (65.9%), NSPFS in fund transfer (53.6%) and Fadama III Project in joint diagnosis of problems (43.0%). Factors militating against LGCs’ performance were corrupt practices among management (ı̅ =2.6), lack of LG autonomy (ı̅ = 2.5), inadequate fund allocation (ı̅ =2.8), and poor attitude to work among staff (ı̅ =2.8). Three constraint factors were identified, namely, managerial, financial and logistic as constraints to effective performance of LGCs. It was recommended that there should be representatives of farmers’ associations in LGs’ agriculture/veterinary departments who will be involved in planning of agricultural interventions that will address farmers’ felt needs. It was also recommended that there is need for provision of adequate funds for agricultural development activities to LGCs for improved agricultural production in LGAs among others.