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Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for Agricultural Development in Rural Nigeria

Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for Agricultural Development in Rural Nigeria

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Published by JournalofICT
Journal of Information and Communication Technologies, ISSN 2047-3168, Volume 2, Issue 2, February 2012 http://www.jict.co.uk
Journal of Information and Communication Technologies, ISSN 2047-3168, Volume 2, Issue 2, February 2012 http://www.jict.co.uk

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Published by: JournalofICT on Sep 12, 2012
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JOURNAL OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES, VOLUME 2, ISSUE 2, FEBRUARY 201211
 © 2012 JICT
www.jict.co.uk
Information & Communication Technology (ICT) for AgriculturalDevelopment in Rural Nigeria
Emmanuel Ukpe and Jane ChukwurahAmerican University of Nigeria,AbstractInformation & Communication Technology (ICT) has played a significant role in varioussectors within the Nigerian Government. Its role to advance agricultural research, educationand extension to improve the quality of life in a rural area is well established. InformationTechnology not only improves quality of life but can also help an average Nigerian farmer toget relevant information regarding crop production technologies, agro processing, marketsupport, agro-finance and management of farm agri-business. Agriculture is the backbone of the rural community and modern farming practices and technologies has been implemented inmany parts of the world which need to spread out to the areas unaffected by it; in this case,rural Nigeria. Both the communication networks and supporting infrastructure have to reachout to rural areas to allow the biggest entrepreneur community i.e., Farmers to deliver its bestand thus create a stronger nation and economy. This paper discusses the main problems andpossible solutions of the agricultural sector for the benefit of the rural dwellers of the country.Keywords: Agriculture, E-agriculture, Information Technology, Rural Development
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1.
 
INTRODUCTION1.1 Problem Statement
 This paper is posed toward thestudy of efficient and effectiveincorporation of information technology inthe agricultural sector, especially in therural areas. Agriculture provided 41percent of Nigeria's total gross domesticproduct
 
(GDP) in 1999. This percentagerepresented a typical reduction of 24.7percent from its contribution of 65.7percent to GDP in 1957. The decrease willcontinue because, as economic growthoccurs, the relative size of the agriculturalsector generally decreases [1]. Poverty inthe rural areas of the country is particularlycritical since up to 80 per cent of thepopulation live below the poverty line.These poverty stricken individuals dependon agriculture for their food and income.
About 90 per cent of Nigeria’s food is
produced by small-scale farmers whocultivate small plots of land and depend onrainfall rather than irrigation systems.Surveys show that 44 per cent of male
 
12
farmers and 72 per cent of female farmersacross the country cultivate less than 1hectare of land per household [2].
2. HISTORY AND BACKGROUND OFPROBLEM
The agricultural history of Nigeriais intertwined with its political history;consequently, it is not difficult tounderstand the origin of the problem in theagricultural sector. The period of thecolonial government in Nigeria, 1861
 – 
 1960, was punctuated by a ratherimpromptu assistance to ruraldevelopment. During this era, considerableemphasis was placed on research andextension services. The 1962-1968development plans were
 Nigeria’s first
national strategy. Among severalobjectives, it emphasised the introductionof more modern farming methods throughfarm settlements, co-operative (nucleus)plantations, provision of improved farmimplements (e.g. Hydraulic hand pressesfor oil palm processing) and a significantlyexpanded agricultural extension service(Agricultural Development SinceIndependence, [3].
As at 2006, Nigeria’s population
was estimated at 140 million, with womenconstituting about 49.6%. Agriculture,since independence, held the key to
 Nigeria’s r 
apid economic transformation,poverty alleviation, established internaland ethical governance as well as state andfood security. Agriculture employs abouttwo-
thirds of Nigeria’s
labour force,contributes over 40% of the GrossDomestic Product (GDP) and providesabout 88% of non-oil earnings. The cropssector contributes 85% of the agriculturalGDP, livestock (10%), Fisheries (4%) andForestry (1%). Over 90% of the Nigerianagricultural production is accounted for bysmall-scale and subsistence farmers withless than two (2) hectares farm holding [4].The agricultural sector in 1998,which has been relatively stagnant at 3%growth potential moved from 4.1% growthrate to 7.4% by the end of 2007. This wasas a result of a renewed attention of thegovernment within the years throughvarious reform programmes that alsoencouraged increasing private sectorentrepreneurial activities (but notnecessarily due to the effectiveness of policy implementation in the long run). Ingrowth terms, the sector was only secondto telecommunications services, the fastestgrowing sector since 2004 [4]. 
 
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Table 1.1 Sector Growth Rates (AZIH, 2008)
2.1 Thesis Statement
Despite the fact that most of therural population depend on agriculture forfood and livelihood, today's agriculturalsector does not disclose or appreciate theamount of effort put by rural farmers.
2.2 Scope of the Research
The focal point of this research ison the rural areas of Nigeria. Informationabout this study was derived from journals,websites and books. The general aim of this paper is to determine the potentialsolutions for the improvement of agriculture in the rural. To be morespecific, this paper illustrates the variousissues affecting the agricultural sector inNigeria. Again, it concentrates on the ruralareas and provides possible solutions tothe agricultural problem in the rural areas.
2.3
 
Significance of the Research
This paper provides a method forrural farmers to be informed on thebenefits of information technology inagriculture. This information would allowfarmers to incorporate the use of information enhanced facilities andtechnologies to enable agriculturalprocessing for commercial. This will leadto increased efficiency in not only theexistence of the rural farmer but to thecountry as a whole.
3.
 
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
E-Agriculture is an informationtechnology enhanced area which focuseson the enhancement of agricultural andrural development through improvedinformation and communication processes.Since no precise work has been done onthis topic, the literatures being used in thisresearch work explores different e-agriculture strategies used in various ruralcommunities.A reason for the selection of thesestrategies was that it was most relevant tothe research work presented. E-Agricultureinvolves the conceptualization, design,

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