STRATEGY AND PROCESS FOR CHANGING AGRICULTURE
IN RURAL NIGERIA:
THE BADEKU EXPERIENCE.
J. A. Ekpere
Agriculture is still a major sector of the Nigerian economy
notwithstanding the present heavy reliance on petroleum as the
primary and.most important source of foreign exchange earnings.
Agriculture provides gainful employment for over 70 percent of
the population, food and raw materials for the nation as well as
capital accumulation for investment in the nonaagricultural sector
of the economy. For a number of years, the emphasis of Nigeria's
agricultural policy makers was focused on export cash crop
productions Agricultural research institutions also invested
large sum of money and time in cash crop improvement and production.
In recent times however, several factors including high cost of
food, urban congestion and inflation have led to a reversal-of
this .policy. A new dimension to the present situation in Nigeria
is a renewed concern for the rural areas and those who live there.
In the absence of proven research on how to do a better job of
helping our rural population, it became necessary to initiate
action research programmes to try new strategies at getting the
job done and accumulating experience. The pilot project on rural
development is one attempt in this direction.
19.2. General Description of Project
The "Pilot Project on Rural Development" is an expansion
of the "Badeku Village Development" supervised by the Department
of Agricultural Economics and Extension with the cooperation of
other departments in the Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry.
The project was started in.197b in one village, Badeku, and expanded
in 1973 to 18 villages, and 26 villages in 1974. In 1976, there
were I0 villages participating in the programme.
During the first three years of the project, it was reliably
demonstrated that the strategy of operation has immense value for
the rapid improvement in traditional agriculture. However, a
programme for agricultural improvement will have limited impact
if-it does not cover a sufficiently extensive area. The project
was therefore expanded in 1975 to test if the techniques and
procedures used successfully in Badeku can be reproduced with full
confidence through a normal.extension approach in a group of villages.
Badeku, the original village in which the project was
initiated is located in a rural community in the rain forest area
of Oyo State in Nigeria, 17 miles from the University of Ibadan
campus. The expanded project, however, covers two ecological
areas. The Egbeda (Badeku) unit of 19 villages is located in
rain forest zone and the Fashola unit of 11 villages in -the derived
The general objective of the project is to enhance rural
development by using the concept of area and regional planning,
community involvement, active participation, and agriculture
(primary production) as the medium for generating rural awareness
commitment and action.
The specific objectives are;
1. To create an innovative area. The idea being that the
villages should serve as a testing ground to see how
quickly and permanently technological changes in
agriculture, health, nutrition and women welfare
activities could be achieved, keeping in mind that
these changes, institutional and organizational
procedures are reproducible in other parts of the
2. To provide a laboratory type situation for concerned
staff and students of.the Faculty and University, in
which they can study, observe and participate in rural
3. To provide a link between concerned research workers
of the University, other agencies and the rural people
for whom they work. It is anticipated that the project
should make it possible -for researchers to come into
closer contact with rural people, enabling them to
better understand rural problems and reaction.
This will aid in.the organization of more relevant
research more directly applicable to the problems of
rural agriculture and development.
4. To provide a basis for promoting local initiative,
selforeliance, confidence, and participative
involvement in the planning and implementation of rural
19:5. The Plan of Action
The plan faction for achieving the specific objectives
enunciated above included,
1. Selection of the -project area-with due cognizance for
(a) Size of village population
(b) Nearness to the University of Ibadan campus
(c) All season accessibility by road and
(d) Receptivity to change and extension staff by
most of the villagers.
2. Situation analysis through a bench mark survey to
determine the socio-economic and agricultural status
of the community.
5. Formulating a development programme with the village
4. Implementation of the programme, through village
commitment, local organizations and other government
19.5.1. The Situation
The operationalization of an integrated rural development
strategy in this area was conceived on a thorough knowledge of
the situation. This was achieved through a socio-economic survey
undertaken in Badeku in 1970 and 20 villages (including Badeku
resurvey) in 1974. Almost all heads of household were interviewed
using a structured pre-tested questionnaire. In a few cases, an
open-ended instrument was used to obtain in-depth socio-economic
The predominant religious belief in both area is Islam,
practiced by 78 percent of the population. Christians make up
20 percent of the population in Egbeda and 12 percent in Fashola.
In both areas, 24.5 percent of the heads of household have
more than one wife. In the Fashola area, 80 percent of the
population have no formal education, and of the 20 percent that
does, it was either of a religious nature or only a few years of
primary education. In the Egbeda area, 60 percent of the
population have no formal school education. The population is
predominantly Yoruba speaking and relatively more males than
females have formal education.
Over 90 percent of the population in both areas are farmers
(primary occupation). Most of this proportion-60 percent and 42
percent in Fashola and Egbeda areas respectively are full time
farmers- i. e., they derive all or most of their income from
agriculture. Important subsidiary occupation include hunting,
trading, carpentry, masonry, palm wine tapping, tailoring, bicycle
repairing and blacksmithing.
The vegetation in the Egbeda area is mostly rain forest
with temperatures ranging from 70 F-90 ( oC C) most of the
year. The annual rainfall of 40" 60" peaks in June and October.
The dry season is between December and March. The major crops
are Cocoa (26%9 of cultivated area), oil palm (1290), kola nuts
(12/), citrus (12c'), cassava (12)0, yam (79), maize (7O'),
cocoyam (35), and beans (O.3,) (Patel and Olayide, 1977).
Mixed cropping is widely practised in both food and-export/cash
The Fashola area, by contrast, is primarily a derived
savannah vegetation area with o-en woodland and tall perennial
grasses. It experiences an annual rainfall of about 45 inches
within 78 100 rainy days between May and October. .The area is
ecologically ideal for food crop production and most of the
conventional export tree crops of the State are absent in this
area. The major crops are yam (40c of the cultivated area),
cassava (309') and maize (159). Other minor food crops in this
area include cocoyams, beans (cowpeas), vegetables, etc. The
average land holding in this area is 14.78 acres, half of which
is usually under fallow with other half carrying crops. E'ch
piece of land is usually activelyy cropped for 3-4 years before
reverting to a 5-10 years fallow. Although most of the fprmern
may be classified as small Holders, 16 percent of the farmers
own 42 percent of the cultivable area. At'the time of the survey,
all farm operations are performed by human labour.
... In- the 'je-ea' area, -80' -percrenf'oT the households- owned
poultry, 60 percent keep- oats and 409' owned some sheep. The mean
livestock.sizewas 21 chickens, 6 goats and 4 sheep. Ii the
Fashola area, 70 percent,:50 percent and 30 percent of the house-
holds owned poultry, goats and sheep with a mean of 22 chickens,
5 goats and 6 ,heep per household. Most of the livestock is
managed under the free-range system. About 4 percent of the
household used deep litter, 0.6 percent used pre-mixed feed and
1.0 percent have adopted .Improved poultry. Some farmers in the
Fashola area owned cattlei but management and husbandry is done
:i by Fulani who are employee( specifically for this purpose.
| Cattle; is reared mainly f r meat, less for milk and rarely used
as a source of farm power.
19.5.2. Farmer-Rural Development Worker Contact
The results of the bench mark survey showed that even
though a large proportion of those interviewed have heard of
government programmes for rural development, very few of them
have actu-,lly had contact with government functionaries or
benefitted directly from their services.
The table 19.1 shows different levels of contact between
respondents and rural development workers.
Table 19.1:Farmer-Rural Development Worker Contact
Category of Rural Farmer Response
Development Worker ,
Know of Met Gone to/
Him Him Asked his
1. Agric. Extension Worker 78 57 35
2. Agric. Credit Assistant 49 25 16
3. Rural Health Worker 68 50 25
4. Adult Education Teacher 51 56 25
5. Community Development
Worker 28 12 8
Total 274 180 109
Even though radio ownership was low in-the. p IoQjct area,
radio listenership and exposure was quite high. It was by far
the most important source of information, used by 84 percent of
the farmers in Egbeda and 60 percent of the respondents in the
S F&shoala! area. The next important extension information transfer
method was method, demons action. Agricultural shows an.. local
language newspapers were minor sources of agricultural information.
19.3.4. Group IdJentification and Participation
Several farmers (75 percent of the population in Egbeda
aid 1'Opercent in Fasholai area) are members of cooperatives. But
more important in' these villages is active participation in informal
traditional groups. About 60 percent of the farmers in Egbieda
area and 46 percent of thbse in Fashola area belong to some! kind
of infornial group; either for mutual farm help or credit purposes.
These groups were quite a tive and met very regularly to assist
members with theib several problems.
19..55. Response to Agri cultural Technology
Their level oj knowledge and use of new and improved
agricultural technology ii both areas of the project-is shown
in Table 19.2. Farmers in Egbeda area have heard and actually
applied most of the on-going agricultural recommendations.
Table 19.2:.Response to Agricultural Technology-1973 Survey
Percentage of Farmers Who
,Practice Have Heard of Used it
Egbeda rashola Egbeda Fashola
Unit Unit Unit Unit
Fertilizers 89 95 17 16
Improved Seed (maize) 95. 9. .4...4 22; 14
Improved Cocoa Variety 97 -* 18 -*
Chemical Spraying of Cocoa 97 -* 47 -*
Improved Oil Palm Variety 95 -* 3 -*
Improved Cassava Variety 90 22 2 0
Improved Kolanut Variety 87 1 -i
Improved Citrus Variety 78 -* 3 -*
Improved Cowpea Variety : 75 15 15 1
Insecticide for farm storage 85 16 10 6
Chemical Spray on Maize Farm 8.5. .37- 26 4
Govt. Credit & Loan Utilization 90 67 2 4
Govt. Tractor Hire 69 62 1 2
* Crop not grown in the Fashola area.
19.3.6. Programme for Rural Intervention.
The result of the bench mark survey provided basic
information for a better understanding of the limiting
structures in Badeku and other project villages. Through a process
of continuous dialogue with the village leadership, a programme
of rural change and improvement was to be evolved, using
agriculture (farming) as the medium for entry into the community.
The emphasis was in;
1. Improved maize seed utilization in the production process.
2. Fertilizer campaign
3. Introduction of new crops-adaptive biological technology
4. Labour saving devices
5. Expansion of farm loan and credit use
6. Improved maize storage and marketing
7. Livestock production-management and improvement
... Water supply-other infra-structure and services
9. Human nutrition
10. Women welfare-community centre and income generating
11. .Public health and sanitation
12. .Group action and
15., Rural. educatinn-consciousness raising and rural awareness
programme .which was to span all the activities listed above.
19.4. Strategy- for action
The success of any programme depends on a well organized
body of knowledge and strategy of action. The basic theoretical
formulation applied in this project derives from two major
parameters: "Equilibrium-Disequilibrium and Clientele Participation-
Non participation" in programme decision and implementation.
The parameter; equilibrium disequilibrium is relevant in the
context of rural Nigeria where communities have their systems
and forces well balanced and neutralized that a state of near
perfect equilibrium exists. The rural farmer endures.a passive
existence in a situation which he is incapable of changing.
Based on past experience, he is over-cautious of technological
structural and institutional innovations from external sources.
Under such conditions, programmes of rural intervention are more
likely to succeed if a state of guided disequilibrium is created.
The second parameter of clientele participation-non-
participation is even more important considering the bureaucratic
nature of government ministries having responsibility for
agricultural development and rural improvement in Nigeria.
Burdened by the legacy of colonial rule, the Nigerian agricultural
administration is characterized by centralization or clientele
non-participation at different levels. Farmers as a client
group of government have probably not received adequate attention
in the conventional public administration. The administrators
Fig. 19.1: Parameters of The Strategy for-Rural Development
Source based on Patcl's Conceptualization.
have made very little effort to identify themselves with rural
people and their problems. Consequently, the latter view their
activities with distrust and suspicion (Patel and Olayide, 1977).
Externally induced programmes of rural change have a higher chance
of success if a feeling of trust, openness and partnership is
developed through participative involvement.
Essentially, this model suggests that in a system at
equilibrium, clientele particip-tion serves little purpose.
It generates rhetorical effusions and ideological wranglings
which are wasteful and result in mass dissatisfaction. On the
other hand, clientele non-participation in a state of equilibrium
results in fatalism, anomie and stagnation. Both cases suggest
the need for disequilibrium in the induced development process.
In a dynamic situation, clientele-non participation is
indicative of allienation and dictatorial behaviour on part of
the leadership. Such a system breeds resentment even though it
could lead to progress. However, clientele participation within
a system in disequilibrium enhances dialogue, trust, confidence
and understanding among all those involved in the development
process. Participation thus leads to progress and satisfaction.
19.5. Operational Processes
Based on the general development strategydescribed above,
a more specific process for improvement in rural living through
change in agriculture was evolved as shown in Figure. 19.2.
As mentioned earlier, the bench mark survey provided a basis for
the identification of broad problems through dialogue with the
village leadership. The determination of solution to technical
problems was however undertaken through consultation with and
visits by agricultural scientists of specialist institutes and
the faculty of agriculture at the University of Ibadan.
Problem Finding Adaptive F4 .
Adaptive *' "j Extene.
Identification Solution Trial
Evaluation Developing Contracturaa !Legitil
Organization services foi
for planning trial by
and action Farmers
Fig. 19.2. Paradigm of the process of change in agriculture.
19.5.1. Adaptive trial
Once a scientist thought that a solution based on sound
research was available to a problem, one or more adoptive trials
were conducted in a village on a small scale.. The purpose of
the. adaptive trials were to test:
1. the technical efficiency and ecological adaptability
of the research recommendation under village conditions.
2. assess the economic profitability of the new method.
3. Provide the extension assistant. an opportunity to
learn the new method and determine the reaction of
4. Provide the scientist with an.opportunity to anticipate
problems that could arise from the.application of the
5. demonstration to farmers.
The agricultural scientists had primary responsibility for
organizing and establishing these adaptive trials with the project
extension assistants executing routine activities under his
guidance. So far, adaptive trials have been carried out on maize,
sweet potatoes, soybeans,cowpeas, and the.use of herbicides.
19.5.2. Extension Education
Farmers are educated using a variety of methods to convince
them of the superiority of innovations. The method used most
often is the village visit during.which farmers are contacted
individually. The officials of indigenous village groups are
educated in the beginning and they. in turn inform their members.
Before each planting season, project assistants attend
general meetings of indigenous groups to discuss new recommend-
ations and their use. A two day training programme is arranged
every alternate year at the University campus, for village groups
leaders. A newsletter is published in Yoruba every three months
and distributed free to farmers. Office calls by farmers are
quite important and representatives from three to five villages
visit the project staff every month for discussion on credit,
marketing or guidance on technical.problems.
Each indigenous group is encouraged to grow maize and other
crops onL group farms through group effort. These group farms
are supervised more intensively by the project staff. Thus the
group farms serve as an excellent training place for
Legitimation is achieved. through indigenous groups at
village level and the area planning councils at area level.
Decisions taken at both levels seem to have group approval and
sanction:.- Also, adaptive trials are usually located on sites
selected by the group and/or village leader and group members
accept responsibility for such decisions.
19.5.4. Contractual Services for trial by small farmers
It has been observed that even though farmers are
convinced of the superiority of an innovation by observations
on adaptive trials and further demonstrations, this did not
guarantee adoption. They persisted with small scale trials on
their farms and preferred limited size purchase of essential
Under these conditions, the project arranged for the
purchase and distribution of inputs on a contractual basis on
the understanding that if the experiment succeeded, the
villagers will. sustain it through their indigenous groups.
The farmers willingly paid for inputs and service charges. The
process has been extremely useful in helping the small farmers
through a most critical stage in the adoption decision process.
To the villages have major responsibility for purchasing
19.5.5. Developing organization for planninfgand action
The project had a very small staff and could hardly
stretch itself to satisfy the demands of the villages. It was
therefore necessary to develop organizations at village and area
levels for the purpose of coordination. At the village level
werethe indigenous groups and at the area level, the area planning
council. Both organizations provided the framework for planning
and -revi-e --f-probl-irs and- programmes. -
The progress so far made in the project shown in Table 19.5.
Even though it may be too early to measure the impact of the
project in these areas, one thing is certain, that the farmers
in the project villages have now developed a sense of pride and
confidence in their indigenous groups as a basis for rural
development. They now see themselves as active participants in
the activities that shape their reality rather than passive
consumers of government programmes and directives. This of
course, is the foundation of real change and self development.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources has,
through this project, become more aware of some problems of
agricultural administration, fertilizer and input distribution
The agricultural credit institutions in the state have
ienetited from experiences of the project and are currently
experimenting with new credit policies for the small farmer.
19.6. Problems Encountered
19.6.1. Local Leadership:
The achievements of the project have not been without
problems and hardship. Perhaps the biggest problem was that of
developing local leadership and village level infra-structure
and organization that could take up the responsibility for farm
supplies, credit and marketing.
19.6.2. -Tchnological and physical constraints
The major crop of.emphasis in.both areas is maize. In
the Egbeda area land availability and level of fertility is a
major problem-particularly with minor elements such as zinc,
sulphur and magnesium. The land problem is being contained
through continuous maize cropping and high corrective doses of
fertilizer. In the Fashola area, weeds (Imperata cylinderica)
is major problem. This is presently being tackled with herbicide
adaptive trials, demonstrations and use.
Rural wage structures are least attractive to rural labour
if and when such labour is ever available. It is now observable
phenomenon for migrant labour to bye pass farm work in favour of
unskilled urban jobs even where the associated real wages are
less than rural wages. Measures such as tractor pl6u giii and
use of herbicides are being resorted to in order to solve the
19.6.4. Institutional Constraints
(a) Maize marketing has been a major source of concern.
Usually, there is no ready'market for new varieties of
maize which rural home makers say is not suitable for
the preparation of'local diets. Those who are willing
to try new varieties are usually prevented by perceived
hazard o f-n-eed-ici-dee- applied to-gra-ine during storage. Not
only does the ministry of agriculture buy maize
through contractors but it offers very low prices when
it buys directly from farmers. Local maize users'
(feed companies) are substuting millet, sorghum and
wheat bran for maize in their feed, consequently, there
-:.. is low ; demand.
(b) Inter-Agency Co-ordination
The field and divisional staff of different development
ministries usually do not meet to plan and -implement
a coordinated approach to rural development. Usually,
government functionaries tend to work in isolation.
The system of advisory committee, area planning council
and village level indigenous groups developed within
the project has helped with providing coordination and
(c) Supply of farm inputs
The: supply of fertilizer and other agricultural
chemicals by accredited government agents continues to
be a source of problem with specific reference to timely
farm operations. Sometimes, fertilizers are sold in
too large quantities than the farmer needs or can afford.
Tractor time and production credit usually reach the
farmer too late to have the desired effect.
The project continues to work closer with the relevant
agencies to improve the input supply situation.
19.7. Summary and Conclusions
The pilot project on rural development discussed in this
paper is essentially an action research and service programme
designed primarily to test how to plan and implement rural
development with those affected cooperating. So far, the project
has demonstrated that with the right type of leadership and
ecologically adaptable technology, scientists, farmers and
rural development workers will participate in the planning and
execution of programmes for rural improvement.
It is important that such a programme should be based on
a thorough knowledge of the local situation and needs of the
people. These should be a deliberate attempt to develop local
organizations and institutions that could assume responsibility
for further programming and action as the project winds up and
moves on to duplicate its activities somewhere else.
Problems will continue to arise, but a good project should
anticipate such.constraints and plan appropriate solutions as
they occur. An essential philosophical premise of this approach
to agrarian development in third world nations is that its
successful replication around the country is necessary for the
realization of its full benefit. Preliminary results from its
project suggests that this is possible.
PROGRESS DATA OF THE BADEKU EXPANDED PROJECT
tem974 1975 1976 1974 1975 1976
Stems 19 '" ...... 74 10i975-.. 1976"* 1974: .1975 1976"
,- -. ,. ..
1. No.-of villages 14 12 17
2. No. of indigenous groups 15 16 23
3. Maize acreage under group farms 107 72 87
4. Herbicides sprayed on maize
5. Insecticides sprayed on
6. Use of fertilizer (in bags,
each of 50 kg.)
0 380 110
4 12 14
63 147 169
0 0 60
0 0 5
0 296 524
0 148 200
0 0 34
7. Loan given by'Credit
Corporation in i
8. Loan due in N
9. No. of demonstrations in
4074 6729 3940
1908 6055 9380
0 1 10
0 0 -
0 0 1
1 0 -
Till June,- 1976
/ Most of these dues are owed by only one group (Badeku) which received
it for on-lending to members. This group has invested most of this
amount in buying two vehicles, one for passenger pick-up and the
other a truck. These vehicles serve the entire village. It also
buys fertilizer for villagers.
2/ This loan includes only first instalment.
F shola Unit
V^^^d TT ;.
Items 1974 1975 1976 1974 1975 1976
10. No. of Women's Clubs
11. Women's cassava group farms
12. Construction of Community Hall
13. Health activities:
Boiling drinking water
Weaning of infants
Care of umbilical cord
Causes of malnutrition
14. Meetings with native midwives
D. P. T.
B. C. G.
16. No. of villagers trained on
17. No. of villagers on field-trip
18. No. of youth clubs
19. No. of.Area Planning Council
11 12 5 11 12 5
Items 1974 1975 1976 1974 1975 1976
20. No. of Home Economics
f e r e n c e.
.".-.--...Pat. ...L..Land 01ayide, S. 0. "Report on the Badeku Expanded
Project on Rural fei-ve pmer r.t- .--p" u -ish-ed.agerl 1977.