Access to agricultural information by fish farmers in Niger Delta Region of Nigeria.

Author:Ugboma, Margaret U.
Position:Report
 
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Introduction

Among the varieties of agricultural practices is fish farming which is predominant in the coastal states of Nigeria. Currently, there is observed increase in the population of fish farms and farmers. Fishing is no longer restricted to the wild alone; fish farms can be found around towns and villages even behind peoples homes. To sustain this development, it becomes imperative that information on and for them be provided. This is because information is the driving and sustaining force behind any development strategy.

In agriculture, the role of information in enhancing agricultural development cannot be over emphasized. Information is vital for increasing production and improving marketing and distribution strategies (Oladele, 2006). Information also opens windows of sharing experiences, best practices, sources of financial aids and new markets. As posited by Aina et al (1995) information has a vital role to play in improving and sustaining agricultural production of any nation.

For fish farmers, they would need information on fish farming technologies, construction and management, breeds and spawning, processing, storage and marketing (Ofuoku, et al, 2008) and financing. Access to information is very essential for increased productivity by fish farmers. In Nigeria agricultural information is available through NAERLS and its information services, (Ekoja, 2003). They are available in the many agricultural research institutes and school of agriculture in the universities (Adomi, et al 2003) as well as the federal and state ministries of agriculture. Many previous studies agree that the problem of farmers is access to agricultural information; and that even with the advent of information technologies which has succeeded in eliminating bottlenecks in information dissemination; constraints to access to information is still a real experience, (Oladele, 2006).

The focus of this survey is to ascertain the challenges of access to information that fish farmers are facing, particularly the new crop of fish farmers who are not illiterates, in two selected states of Niger Delta Region of Nigeria. Specifically, this study is aimed at:

To ascertain the demographic characteristics of fish farmers.

* To determine the level of access of agricultural information by fish farmers.

* To determine the source(s) of agricultural information by fish farmer.

* Identify constraints to access of agricultural information by fish farmers.

Background Information

The Niger Delta Region is one of the largest wetlands in the world (NNPC, 2008). This geo-political zone is occupied mainly by the minorities of Southern Nigeria which currently comprises the six states of Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo and Rivers. With time, the region has been redefined to encompass the contiguous three other oil-producing states; Abia, Imo and Ondo, in addition to the original six. The region covers an area of 70,000 square kilometers, with sandy coastal ridge barriers, brackish or saline mangroves, permanent and seasonal swamp forests as well as low land rain forest with the entire area criss-crossed by a large number of rivers rivulets, streams, canals and creeks (NNPC, 2005). Bayelsa and Delta States are at the centre of the Niger Delta Region. Bayelsa is the central home of the Ijaws who are predominantly fishermen. Bayelsa comprises 8 local government areas. Delta State houses various ethnic...

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