The Community Participatory Score Card study was conducted between September 2017 and January 2018 to determine small-scale women farmers’ access to public agricultural extension and advisory services in seven selected States plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Two community participatory score card tools were developed and approved by ActionAid Nigeria for the study: one was for the public agricultural extension and advisory service providers, the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) of the States’ Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, based on the Standard agricultural extension service performance indicators (staffing, funding, and extension delivery activities).
The other score card tool was for the beneficiaries (clientele) of the extension and advisory services, i.e: small-scale women farmers belonging to various associations and groups under the umbrella of Small-scale Women Farmers Organizations of Nigeria (SWOFON) as selected by ActionAid and its partners in the participating States for them to evaluate their access to public extension services in their States.
The ADPs extension services was scored based on the staffing situation, especially at the critical extension agent/farmers interface (Village Extension Agent (VEA), Block Extension Agent (BEA) and Block Extension Supervisors (BES)); funding and key extension delivery activities.
The score card tool for the small-scale women farmers was based on key extension delivery variables, including technical facilitation and backstopping and extension delivery methods and approach. The scoring was on a scale of 1 – 4, with 1 = Poor, 2 = Fair, 3 = Good and 4 = Very Good.
The analysis was done using weighted mean, with the weighted mean score as 2.5. Weighted mean score below the cut-off point of 2.5 was considered not satisfactory (Poor – Fair) and weighted mean score above 2.5, as satisfactory (Good – Very Good)
The results of the study showed that a majority (66.0% - 84.0%) of the women participants in all the States, except Gombe (33.0%) were aware of the ADPs and extension services in their various States. However, their overall access to the ADP extension services, were scored as majorly poor (mean weighted score of 1.0 – 1.75) in all the States.
Apart from their poor access to agricultural extension services, the small-scale women farmers also stated that their most serious agricultural challenges include: lack of or very limited access to production-enhancing inputs, especially; improved seeds/seedlings, fertilizers, tractors for land preparation, poor storage, processing facilities and credit.
With respect to the ADPs, the study revealed that they were all “top-heavy” in staffing while seriously lacking needed staff at the critical extension agent/farmers interface.
The study further showed that the acute shortage of essential qualified staff was compounded by very poor and irregular funding in all the States, hence; the poor extension service coverage and delivery.
The major challenges of the ADPs as revealed by their score card include: acute shortage of critically needed staff in the right positions, poor and irregular funding, lack of opportunities for regular and continuous capacity building and poor mobility for field operations.
Consequent upon the findings, the following recommendations are made:
i.The enactment of an agricultural extension policy to guide and regulate the practice of agricultural extension and advisory services in Nigeria, for assured and sustainable funding mechanism and quality control.
ii.Significant improvement in the funding of public agricultural extension services by the Federal and State governments.
iii.Immediate recruitment of adequate and qualified extension personnel and putting in place a funded capacity building programme for extension personnel in all the ADPs centres.
iv.Special Extension Outreach programme for Women and Youths and other marginalized groups.
v.Facilitation of access to production-enhancing inputs including access to land, and credit.