Climate change is perhaps the most serious environmental threat to the fight against hunger, malnutrition, disease and poverty in Africa, mainly through its impact on agricultural productivity. Agricultural development in Nigeria over the years has always been affected by the rising change and challenges in the environment. Some of the challenges to agriculture as well as agricultural extension delivery include inconsistency in agricultural policies, centralization of decision making, poor input supply and distribution system, low Extension Agent: Farm Family ratio, low morale of staff, poor funding and logistics support. The World Bank assisted Training and Visit (T&V) extension and other approaches implemented over the years were criticized as top-down, rigid, costly and rendered the extension system ineffective particularly as it relates to beneficiaries’ participation in programme, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. These and other problems culminated in low productivity and low level of development in the agricultural sector and thus necessitated the review of the 1988 Agricultural Policy for Nigeria.
Agricultural extension still remain the most crucial and critical means to reach farming households in the rural areas and globally. There are changing trends and challenges facing agricultural extension delivery in Nigeria which has necessitated the growing campaign for increase in private participation and funding (Oladoja, 2004). Since the pre-independence era, the extension service has been publicly funded and implemented in Nigeria. In reaction to the worrisome performance of the agricultural sector, the Federal Government has embarked on various programmes and schemes aimed at returning the sector to its enviable position in the Nigerian economy (Alabi and Mafimisebi, 2004).
1.1 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
In Nigeria, like most developing countries where institutions (Economic, Political and legal) are weak and opportunistic, counterproductive behaviours (Corruption, Cheating and rent seeking) have led to marked increases in transaction costs thus, weakening service delivery (Nnaemeka, 2006). For example, due to poor funding, funding instability and the activities of corrupt officials, extension agents, are not paid their salaries for months; materials for field work and transportation facilities, which were formerly provided, are no longer available. Even where they are provided, the materials do not get to the officials. All these have increased the cost of monitoring and dissemination of technology to farmers as government insures additional expenses in order to reach farmers. In view of this litany of constraints militating against the efficient and effective public funded extension, those advocacies from several studies to actualize the privatization of extension abound. Hence, the following pertinent questions arise: What institutional framework should be adopted to support privatization? What will be the most appropriate alternative funding arrangement to take? Are farmers willing to pay for extension services? Who is responsible for the policy formulation and implementation with regard to privatization? What are the Challenges to overcome and the prospects in privatizing the extension service delivery in Nigeria? Private extension services appear to provide timely and appropriate services in terms of the farmers’ need. This is in tandem with the reasons advanced for agricultural extension privatization (Saliu and Agi, 2009).
The failure of the various extension delivery approaches in developing countries to effectively engineer significant and sustainable agricultural growth has become a major concern to all stakeholders, including the donor community. The concerns have been fueled lately by the wave of pluralism, market liberalization and globalization sweeping across the world and giving rise to initiatives that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of not only the sub-components of extension delivery but the entire system of technology generation, dissemination and use. With a rapidly expanding population, environmental degradation, political instability, economic failure and the declining budget, re-thinking the way agricultural technology is delivered to farmers has become necessary. This re-thinking has brought to the fore some issues that need consideration by developing countries as they change the ways agricultural technology is taken to farmers.
1.2 OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY
The study tends to find the impact of environmental crisis on agricultural extension service delivery.
The objective includes;
1. To find the causes of environmental crisis on agric extension service delivery
2. To find the impact of environmental crisis on agric extension service delivery
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
There has been a nationwide adoption of the World Bank support Training and Visit (T and V) as the main approach for extension delivery. Although the system was adopted with distinct home grown modifications, the withdrawal of World Bank funds in the last two decades has proved that the system is not sustainable. While the system is supposed to incorporate feedback from farmers, they are often passive receivers of agricultural information. Like in many other countries where the T and V is being implemented, messages are typically based on perceptions of farmers’ needs or on the requirements or desires of public sector agencies like the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) in the case of Nigeria. Studies and critiques have shown that the T and V have not met user demand for appropriate content and appropriate learning methods (Omotayo, 2005). Anderson and Feder (2003) observed that “despite the fact that public financing for extension is often justifiable, the general trend towards fiscal restraint and a reduced role for the public sector has led to financial crisis in many extension services”. Since the 1990s, inadequate funding has led to the virtually collapse of research and extension institutions that provided services small farmers and rural communities in Nigeria (Omotayo, 2004).
2.1 MAIN FEATURES OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS
At this point, a very brief overview of the environmental crisis may be helpful. It is important to emphasise that a wide range of views about the nature and severity of the current environmental crisis exists, and some of the issues are highly controversial. Nevertheless, there is broad agreement that the environmental crisis encompasses the following main issues.
• Climate change: anthropogenic climate change due to pollution of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases (and other contaminants) is now regarded as one of the major global environmental issues. It occurs largely as a result of the combustion of fossil fuels, emissions from agriculture and pastoralism, and land-use changes that accompany the destruction, clearance and burning of forests. Climate change already has observable ecological and social effects, and its projected impacts could potentially result in profound changes in global mean surface temperature, sea level, ocean circulation, precipitation patterns, climatic zones, species distributions and ecosystem function.
• Stratospheric ozone depletion: the depletion of stratospheric ozone due to the pollution of the atmosphere by halocarbons (such as chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs) is another serious environmental issue. It is a significant concern because the lack of protective ozone at high altitudes results in increased levels of harmful solar ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation reaching the earth’s surface, causing a range of health-related and ecological impacts.
• Degraded air quality: other forms of air pollution are also significant, particularly at regional and local scales, as they may seriously degrade air quality; worldwide, approximately one billion people inhabit areas – mainly industrial cities – where unhealthy levels of air pollution occur. Many air pollutants are responsible for the degradation of air quality, but some key pollutants include particulate matter (such as soot), tropospheric ozone, oxides of nitrogen, oxides of sulphur, lead and various aromatic compounds (such as benzene). Many air pollutants may cause or aggravate respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses; some are known carcinogens; and some can cause damage to vegetation and, in turn, produce a range of ecological effects.
• Degraded water quality: similarly, water quality can be seriously degraded by contamination with pollutants, giving rise to a range of health-related and ecological effects (such as the degradation of coral reefs). A major source of water pollution is the terrestrial run-off to inshore waters that occurs in many coastal locations; such run-off may contain significantly elevated levels of nitrogen and phosphorus from agricultural land and from human settlements. Many other human activities lead to water pollution, including mining and industrial processes, which may create toxic effluent. Oil spills, accumulation of plastics and the bioaccumulation of persistent organic chemicals are some of the other causes of serious degradation of the marine environment.
• Scarcity of fresh water: besides the pollution of freshwater sources, there are a variety of other reasons for the scarcity of fresh water for drinking in many parts of the world – many of which are related to poor water resource management practices. For instance, the over-abstraction of water from rivers results in water shortages and problems of salinisation downstream. Irrigation practices may also be responsible for the depletion of local water sources and the salinisation of irrigated land. Vast differences in water security exist at the global scale, reflecting both demand for fresh water and the scale of public and private investment in water supplies, treatment and distribution.
• Land contamination: land contamination occurs as a result of chemical or radioactive pollution, especially by long-lived (persistent) chemical species that enter the soil. Land contamination may cause profound ecological effects and it presents severe constraints to development, since contaminated land must typically be rehabilitated before it is safe to use for agriculture, construction or recreation.
• Deforestation: it has been estimated that around half of the world’s mature forests have been cleared by humans. Deforestation occurs for a variety of reasons, but the majority of deforestation now occurs when tropical forests are cleared for agriculture and pastoralism; other reasons include the destruction of trees for charcoal production and the selective logging of forests for timber. Whilst tropical forests cover only around 6% of the earth’s surface, they are an essential part of the global ecosystem and of the biosphere: they help to regulate climate; they protect soils from erosion; and they provide habitats for a vast number of plant and animal species. One estimate suggests that around 90% of the world’s species are found in tropical forests (Park 2001).
• Soil erosion and degradation: concerns about soil erosion, soil degradation and the problem of desertification have become acute. In part, these concerns are based on the historical experiences of dramatic soil erosion and transport in New World countries including the USA (during the ‘Dust Bowl’ of the 1930s) and Australia. Whilst analyses of the problems of soil erosion and degradation have become more sophisticated, recently, it is clear that these problems continue to have important consequences for agricultural and pastoral productivity as well as for the functioning of natural ecosystems.
• Land use change and habitat loss: these issues overlap with others, such as deforestation, but they are broader and include the clearance of forest for agriculture and pastoralism, the transformation of land during urban growth, the development of new infrastructure (such as roads), the drainage of wetlands, and the destruction and removal of coastal mangrove forests. The impact of land use change on forest and grassland environments is depicted in 1.4.1.
• Biodiversity loss: many plant and animal species are threatened with extinction, due to the spread of disease, the destruction and degradation of their habitats, and direct exploitation. In 1999, UNEP (1999) estimated that one-quarter of the world’s mammal species and around one-tenth of the world’s bird species faced a significant risk of total extinction. Threats to biodiversity are not confined to terrestrial ecosystems; serious concerns have been raised about the future of marine and coastal wildlife species as a result of the pollution, over-exploitation and acidification of ocean and seas.
2.2 CAUSES OF ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS ON AGRIC EXTENSION SERVICE DELIVERY
We disagree with those environmentalists who blame the crisis on modern machine production. Many dangerous, environmentally destructive technologies and substances (for example, coal power stations, non-degradable plastics which do not rot in the ground) can be replaced with safer and sustainable industrial technologies (for example, solar technology, starch-based plastics). We think that modern forms of production have many potential advantages over small-scale craft production. Such as greatly increasing the number of essential products like bricks produced, and freeing people from unpleasant toil. We also disagree with the argument that says that workers and peasants cause the crisis by consuming “too many” resources. Most goods consumed in the world are consumed by the middle class and ruling class.
Instead, the real blame for the environmental crisis must be laid at the door of capitalism and the State. These structures create massive levels of inequality which are responsible for much ecological devastation. How? The accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of the few is associated with excessive and unjustifiable high levels of consumption by the ruling elite. The poverty caused by the system also creates environmental problems. For example, by forcing the poor to cut down trees for firewood, exhaust the tiny bits of farm land that they own in a desperate attempt to provide food, pollute rivers because they lack proper plumbing facilities etc.
Capitalists also build many goods to break as soon as possible (forcing people to buy replacements), thus resulting in unnecessary waste. Many goods that are produced are deliberately destroyed in order to keep prices up, such as the 200 million tons of grain stockpiled world-wide in 1991. 3 million tons could have eliminated all famine in Africa that year. Capitalists have developed safe, alternative technologies, which can replace environmentally destructive processes and substances. But they do not want to install these new technologies, or even proper safety and monitoring equipment, because this costs money and cuts into profits. They prefer to leave ordinary people to suffer pollution. Capitalists also promote inefficient and resource-wasting products in place of those which are more suited to sustaining the environment. For example, they promote private car ownership (which consumes massive amounts of petrol per person), in place of public transport systems (which minimise fuel consumption).
The State defends and supports these practices. It does not want to impose strong environmental protection laws in case this hampers profit-making. In addition, the military activities of the State area major cause of the environmental crisis. Massive amounts of resources are wasted on the building the repressive arm of the State: world-wide, about $900 billion dollars is spent on the military every year. Weapons such as nuclear bombs have been developed which are capable of destroying all life on earth. Often, the knowledge acquired in making these weapons is applied to industry, resulting in very dangerous technologies such as nuclear power (from research on nuclear bombs), and pesticides (from research on chemical weapons).
2.3 IMPACT OF ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS ON AGRIC EXTENSION SERVICE DELIVERY
Climate change, which is attributable to the natural climate cycle and human activities, has adversely affected agricultural productivity in Africa (Ziervogel et al. 2006). Available evidence shows that climate change is global, likewise its impacts; but the most adverse effects will be felt mainly by developing countries, especially those in Africa, due to their low level of coping capabilities (Nwafor 2007; Jagtap 2007). Nigeria is one of these developing countries (Odjugo, 2010). As the planet warms, rainfall patterns shift, and extreme events such as droughts, floods, and forest fires become more frequent (Zoellick 2009), which results in poor and unpredictable yields, thereby making farmers more vulnerable, particularly in Africa (UNFCCC, 2007). Farmers (who constitute the bulk of the poor in Africa), face prospects of tragic crop failures, reduced agricultural productivity, increased hunger, malnutrition and diseases (Zoellick 2009). It is projected that crop yield in Africa may fall by 10-20% by 2050 or even up to 50% due to climate change (Jones and Thornton, 2003), particularly because African agriculture is predominantly rain-fed and hence fundamentally dependent on the vagaries of weather. As the people of Africa strive to overcome poverty and advance economic growth, this phenomenon threatens to deepen vulnerabilities, erode hard-won gains and seriously undermine prospects for development (WBGU 2004, Zoellick 2009). There is therefore the need for concerted efforts toward tackling this menace.
2Much of climate change agricultural research has tended to concentrate on assessing the sensitivity of various attributes of crop systems (e.g. crop/livestock yields, pest, diseases, weeds etc) – the biophysical aspects of food production, with little or no regard to the socioeconomic aspects. These partial assessments most often consider climate change effects in isolation, providing little insight into how and what the farmers are doing to cope with climate change. To better address the food security concerns that are central to economic and sustainable development agendas, it is desirable to also address these aspects of climate change and agriculture. Wisner et al (2004) reports that the vulnerability of agriculture is not determined by the nature and magnitude of environmental stress like climate change per se, but by the combination of the societal capacity to cope with and/or recover from environmental change. While the coping capacity and degree of exposure is related to environmental changes, they are both also related to changes in societal aspects such as land use and cultural practices. This paper discusses the challenges to agricultural adaptation to climate in Nigeria. This is important because climate change is expected to present a heightened risk, new combinations of risks and potentially grave consequences, particularly in Africa due to its direct dependence on rain-fed agriculture as noted above. Accordingly there is the need for an emphasis on “anticipatory adaptation” (UNDP, 2007), that is the proactive rather than the reactive management of climate change risk. This can only be feasible if the potential problems/challenges to adaptation are preemptively analyzed. Most studies on climate change and agriculture in Africa have tended to concentrate on actual and projected impacts as well as farmers’ coping/adaptation strategies (Adejuwon, 2006, FAO 2007, BNRC 2008, Apata et al. 2010 SEI 2008, Ajetomobi et al. 2010 Mendelsohn et al., 2000 Stige et al., 2006 Agoumi, 2003 Thornton et al., 2006). There has been little or no work in the area of challenges of adaptation.
The world is facing a very serious environmental crisis. Key environmental problems include air pollution, the destruction of the ozone layer, vast quantities of toxic waste, massive levels of soil erosion, the possible exhaustion of key natural resources such as oil and coal, and the extinction of plants and animals on a scale not seen since the death of the dinosaurs 60 million years ago. The impact of environmental crisis on agric extension service delivery in the Niger Delta can have negative impact on the people, economy and most importantly oil production to the national economy if not checked. We think that this crisis is likely to have catastrophic effects in the future. Even today, the negative effects of the crisis are evident in the form of growing deserts, increased rates of cancer, and the loss of plant species which could hold out cures for diseases for diseases such as AIDS etc.
Solutions to the environmental crisis on agric extension service delivery in the Niger delta can be a gradual process if adequate measures are put in place. Government should pursue a strict policy on conservation as well the environmental law in the country. Some other recommendations can be outline below;
1. There should be a national reforestation programme aim at tree replanting
2. Environmental clean-up programme should also be emphases especially as it concerns oil spills and environmental waste harmful to the environment.
3. Agric extension officers should be retrained on the new and modern technique in handling and managing environmental issues.
4. Enlighten campaigns; workshop and seminar should be organized periodically so as to enhance the informative skills of local farmers in the Niger delta area on the impact and consequences of environmental crisis in their surroundings.
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