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Maize (Zea mays) is a member of the grass family (gramineae). It originated from South and Central America. It was introduced to West Africa by the Portuguese in the 10th century. Maize is one of the important grains in Nigeria, not only on the basis of the number of farmers that engaged in its cultivation, but also in its economic value. Maize is a major important cereal crop being cultivated in the rainforest and the derived savannah zones of Nigeria. Maize has been in the diet of Nigerians for centuries. It started as a subsistence crop and has gradually become more important crop. Maize has now risen to a commercial crop on which many agro-based industries depend on as raw materials (Iken and Amusa, 2004). Maize is highly yielding, easy to process, readily digested and cost less than other cereals. It is also a versatile crop, allowing it to grow across a range of agro ecological zones (IITA, 2001). It is an important source of carbohydrate and if eaten in the immature state, provides useful quantities of Vitamin A and C. Maize thrives best in a warm climate and is now grown in most of the countries that have suitable climatic conditions.
Rural youth are actively involved in agricultural production in Nigeria but the socioeconomic conditions have constrained them and they lack access to scientific and technological information that could enhance their production capacity. Generally, the adult farmers have more access to agricultural extension services than young able bodied farmers in the rural areas in Nigeria (CTA, 1995). Rural youth are the future farmers who are to carry on farming as a profession for sustainable food production in the nation. Arokoyo and Auta (1992) posited that it is only the energetic, creative, innovative, productive and committed workforce that can bring expected development in agriculture. This group of people is the youth. The word Youth is mostly used to refer to a person who is neither an adult nor a child, but, somewhere in between. Therefore, for meaningful sustainable agricultural and rural development in Nigeria depends not only on the mobilization of large number of youth as active participants in the developmental process, but also on how accessible and well utilised the agricultural information are made available to this important target group. Aina et al, (1995) asserted that information has a vital role to play in improving and sustaining agricultural production of any nation. According to Fawole (2008) information dissemination to farmers in the rural areas is an integral part of the clamor for adoption of innovations and agricultural development. The effectiveness of sources and frequency of agricultural information availability then become of paramount importance; if any meaningful development is to be achieved.
One of the pre- requisites for information use is its accessibility. Information may be physically accessible but may not be intellectually accessible (Opara, 2010). Neelemaghan (1981) posited that illiteracy and poverty are important factors militating against information use. Mere provision of agricultural information to farmers does not guarantee its use. This is because a host of social, economic and psychological factors influence the rate of agricultural information use (Akande, 1999).
Recent literature search on utilization of agricultural information, most of the empirical studies on the subject matter has not focused its attention on the important segment of the rural population (youth) in relation to utilisation of agricultural information. Hence, the need to examine the utilisation of agricultural information among rural youth becomes very imperative for effective policy formulation on agricultural development programmes in Nigeria especially for youth.
Specifically, the study identified the personal characteristics of the respondents; ascertained the sources of information available for rural youth; and categorised the respondents based on the level of use of agricultural information on maize production in the study area.