Date of this Version
Library Philosophy and Practice 2011
Rural farmers account for the greater part of the population of any developing country such as Nigeria. Governments of developing countries have a major responsibility of ensuring that there is adequate rural development in their various communities and local governments which would lead to effective and efficient agricultural systems that will not only supply food and animal protein but also foster the utilization of natural resources in a sustainable manner (CGIAR, 1995). When the rural farmers lack access to knowledge and information that would help them achieve maximum agricultural yield, they are not only grope in the dark but are driven to the urban centres in search of formal employment, as the only option for survival (Munyua, 2000). Blait (1996) pointed out that the least expensive input for improved rural agricultural development is adequate access to knowledge and information in areas of new agricultural technologies, early warning systems (drought, pests, diseases etc), improved seedlings, fertilizer, credit, market prices etc. There have been short-comings of traditional print and library based methods (Van and Fortier, 2000) of providing such agricultural information to rural farmers who are generally illiterate and relatively remote from formal sources of information (e.g. extension stations, libraries). Aina (2007) also, was of the opinion that farmers would benefit from global information, if information centres, are cited in rural areas complete with all information and communication gadgets.
Rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu state are not noted to produce enough food, probably due to some constraints that lead to lack of access to timely and up-to-date information which would have enabled them to achieve optimal yield from their farmlands. Such information is highly desired by these farmers and can only be made available to them via extension workers, community libraries, state and local government agricultural agencies (ADP, ENADEP etc), e-mail or the World Wide Web (WWW) in a telecentre (Telecommons Development Group, 2000). In this modern day of information technology, telecentres provide the rural farmers with prompt and reliable information about what is happening in areas of improved seedlings, better methods of cultivation and fertilizer application, pest and weed control/eradication, new advances in livestock production and disease control etc. Where rural farmers are not faced with constraints in accessing agricultural information, traditional media such as rural radio, has been used in delivering agricultural messages to rural farmers (Munyua, 2000). Other ways of delivering these messages or information to the rural farmers include print, video, television, films, slides, pictures, drama, dance, folklore, group discussions, meetings, exhibitions and demonstrations (Munyua, 2000).
The lack of access to basic agricultural knowledge and information by rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State which may be as a result of certain constraints has made these farmers to stick to their old traditional methods of farming system and animal husbandry practice, hence resulting in poor crop and livestock productivity. Information and knowledge are very vital in agricultural development of any community and where they are poorly disseminated as a result of certain constraints, the community’s agricultural development becomes highly impeded. Therefore, this study was designed to investigate the constraints of the rural farmers in Nsukka local government area of Enugu State in accessing agricultural information.