Delta State Polytechnic, Nigeria
This chapter examines the impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on livestock production by rural farmers in Nigeria. Questionnaire, interview, and personal observation methods were employed to elicit information on the impact of ICT on livestock production on rural areas of Nigeria. The study reveals the significance of personal characteristics of the respondents. The findings also reveal that rural farmers need to be encouraged by providing them with relevant ICT gadgets in order to enhance effective access to information on veterinary and extension services to improve productivity. It is therefore concluded that the establishment of internet facilities in rural communities should be the priority of the State and Federal Governments in order to encourage computer literacy.
The Nigerian society is a social system compounded by contested demands on access to scarce resources especially information. Nigeria is naturally blessed because of the rich alluvial deposits and other natural composites. The fertility of the country makes it possible for the people to carry out fishing, hunting and animal rearing (Otolo, 2008).
Domestic animals are tamed and could be kept for commercial purposes and social means in Nigeria. Anyanwe and Ashaya (2007) opined that some of the domesticated animals such as sheep and cow can be used for meat and milk production. Herren (2004) postulated that one of the advantages of domestic animal production is the low cost of feeding. This is because most of the domesticated animals feed on grass and less expensive grains. However, Mcnit (1995) revealed that in spite of the cheap process of rearing domestic animals, some factors still militate against intensive and extensive livestock production in Nigeria and these include inadequate veterinary services and absence of genuine veterinary drugs. But with the advent of information and communication technology (ICT) on livestock production domestic animal rearers now find solace with the application of ICT.
Most of the rural farmers are not highly educated and most of them understand and speak their dialects only. Experience shows that the ability to acquire and use information is fundamental to the development of animal production especially in the adoption of new technologies. Poor access to information is a major constraint to domestic animal production in Nigeria, and the situation is aggravated by the high level of illiteracy among the rural farmers. It is a clear evident that the ability to acquire and use information is a sine qua non for the application of ICT and agricultural development at all levels.
Fasheun (2001) declared that computer compliance by farmers have become the most important factor for productivity and prosperity. Communication is the process of imparting or exchanging information. To expose rural farmers to a better way of animal husbandry, there is need to educate them in the language they will understand better. In view of the nature of rural farmers, which are relatively isolated and the economic activities which are predominantly agriculture oriented, there is therefore the need to bring farmers to the centre of development for the upliftment of their standard of living. It therefore, calls for a communication development strategy that is democratic, participatory and productive or result-oriented. This can be achieved with the adoption of ICT in retrieving and dissemination of information on domestic animal production (Kwesiga, 2000).
Rural farmers need a wide range of agricultural information access, especially in all areas of agricultural activities such as veterinary services, prices of drugs, diseases outbreak, processing, storage facilities and marketing. The information received helps to enlighten them on the latest species of diverse animals and current prices.
The significance of this study lies in the fact that the findings will enable the rural farmers in Nigeria to be acquainted with new ideas of domestic animal production through the application of ICT.
Ogur (2003) stressed that much efforts have been made by the Federal and State Governments to enhance animal production and other agricultural activities. Few of the programmes launched by the Federal Government were “Operation Feed the Nation and Green Revolution”, which focus attention measurably on students, civil servants, the police and army. These programs hardly favor the rural farmers especially the rural animal rearers.
Rural farmers are isolated from the dealers of agricultural produce, and therefore need a wide range of information to improve in their systems of farming. Information from the context of this study is defined as a processed data that is logically arranged and recorded in various forms, and is retrieved, stored and disseminated in the right format and at the right time with the application of Information and Computer Technology (ICT). Information could also be inform of recorded ideas, skills, feelings, experiences and research results that can be communicated for the improvement and development of others (Unegbu, 1999). Sanusi (2003) remarked that information, if well processed will serve as essential raw materials used in the realization of any objectives or goals set by individuals or group of persons. Rural farmers cannot and never obtain maximum production without adequate information on domestic animal production. Oyelaran (1996) opined that inability of the rural dwellers to access information via the internet is a major problem facing rural entrepreneurs such as rural farmers.
The impact of ICT in domestic animal production may not be felt as expected if the information needed by rural farmers is not well communicated. The most vital information needed by rural farmers in Nigeria is information on veterinary services, prices of drugs and diseases outbreak. Park (1997) posits it that communication of information to rural farmers must be characterized in the following ways for effective delivery. In the first place, it is good for the Federal and State Governments to supply drugs at subsidized rates to the rural farmers, but it is not good enough if the rural farmers are not guided on how to apply the drugs to the animals. If the veterinary is restricted to theoretical messages without practical demonstration for the illiterate farmers to see, the services are not complete and will not yield the needed result. Secondly; communication must be purposeful. The information being disseminated to rural farmers must relate to some pressing problems, and must be able to suggest solutions. And finally, in order to ascertain the validity of the questionnaire, extensive review of literature on information resources relevant to the study was consulted.
Objectives of the Study
This study aims at investigating the impact of ICTon livestock production, the experience of rural farmers in Nigeria. It also attempts to find out the effect of ICT on rural farmers and the constraints facing the rural farmers with application of ICT.
Findings and Discussions
This section presents the analysis of the collected and discussion of the findings of the study. 600 questionnaires were distributed to the political zones but only 300 questionnaires were completed and returned. There are 300 respondents from six communities representing the six political zones under survey and their distribution is as follows; Manama in North West 40; Garkida in North East 45; Osi in North Central 50; Wasinmi in South West 50; Mgbidi in South East 65; and Isele-Uku in South-South 50.
Table 1 reveals that 18 of the respondents had formal education up to National Certificate in Education (NCE), while 8 out of the respondents made it to the degree certificate level. When they were interviewed, it was discovered that they had spent years in the city searching for job appointment but could find none, so they decided to settle down for farming. And now they are on their own with an encouraging number of livestock. It was also discovered that 134 (44.67%) of the respondents had no formal education and most of these farmers are from the Northern part of Nigeria.
The forest and mangrove zones of the country to which Akwa-Ibom state belongs have a high concentration of chicken population in Nigeria as shown in Table 2. Recent statistics on the population of livestock in Nigeria derives from the 2007 Aerial Survey and Trotting by RIM, commissioned by the Federal Livestock Department and Pest Control Services as shown in Table 3.
Table 1. Educational qualification of the respondents
|Educational Qualification||No. of Respondents||Percent|
|First School Leaving Certificate||73||24.33|
Table 2. Ecological distribution of livestock population in Nigeria
|Sahel||Parts of Yobe, Sokoto and Kaduna||1,060|
|Sudan||Parts of Kebbi, Sokoto, Katsina, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Adamawa, Taraba, and Kano||6,820|
|Northern Guinea||Parts of Katsina, Bauchi, Kebbi, Sokoto, Niger, Kwara, Kaduna, Plateau, Taraba and Adamawa||2,580|
|Southern Guinea||Parts of Cross River, oyo, Ogun, Ondo, Edo and Cross-Rivers||3,260|
|Forest||Parts of Oyo, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Edo, Delta, Amanbra, Rivers, Lagos, Akwa- Ibom, and all of Imo and Abia||317|
|Mangrove||Parts of Delta, Cross- River, Akwa-Ibom, Rivers, Lagos and Ondo||10|
Table 3. Statistics on the population of livestock in Nigeria