Monday, 19 January 2015

Impact of Agricultural Extension services on cassava production, processing and utilization in Ebonyi Sate.

Background to the Study
Agriculture occupies a key position in the Nigeria economy judging by its critical role of providing food security, provision of employment, revenue generation and provision of raw materials for industrial development. Cassava,
(Manihot esculenta Crantz) is the third most important food crop in the tropics after rice and maize, and is consumed daily by up to one billion people, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa (Eugene and Otim-Nape, 2012). Global cassava output in 2011 was expected to rise by over 6% from the previous year (2010), and to surpass 250 Million metric tons for the first time (FAO, 2011).
Nigeria is currently the largest cassava producer in the world with estimated annual production of about 40 Million metric tones. About 90% of this is however, consumed as food. The country is yet to fully harness the socio-economic potentials of cassava that would translate to higher ranking of cassava next to petroleum as major contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Having realized that the contribution of the agriculture sector had significantly dropped from being a major foreign exchange earner and resource reservoir to the present status of low supply deficits in both food and industrial crops, President Obasanjo in 1999 convened several stakeholders’ for a on Cassava, Rice, Vegetable Oil Development Programme (VODEP) and Tree Crops. This led to the inauguration of various committees under the chairmanship of the Honourable Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Malam Adamu, Bello that developed the blueprint for the implementation of the “Presidential Initiatives on Cassava, Rice, VODEP and Tree Crops. The blueprints were subsequently approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) with the recommendation that the take-off funds be made available for project implementation. In the Presidential Initiative on Cassava (PIC) strategies was set in motion to achieve, on animal basis, 5 Billion Dollars (US $5.0 Billion) from export of cassava in the next 3-5 years. This plane also involve building of the domestic productive capacity to efficiently, profitable and sustainable satisfy the new market demand with the quality and quantity required to realize the objective (Presidential Initiative on Cassava Reports, 2003) The importance of cassava in human nutrition as a major source of food fibre cannot be over emphasized as it touches the lives of a large percentage of the population of the world. As population increases, the demand for food fibre and cassava products increases, especially with its comparative cost advantage over cereals as source of energy. This calls for improved cassava farming technologies and other information needed for improved production level. Access to adequate informnation is very essential to increased agricultural productivity (Mgbada, 2006).
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