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For the purpose of this research work, an opinion survey was made using oral interview and author - constructed questionnaire to examine “the contributions of agriculture to rural development” using Udi Local Government Area of Enugu as a case study.
The researchers relied on data collected from seventy-five (75) respondents who were agricultural concerned persons.
To guide the research, the above opinions were gathered and analysed/interpreted, analysis of data revealed agriculture is the main stay of the rural dwellers, that proper awareness has not been created about agriculture by those concerned and that these rural dwellers are aware of the contributions of agriculture to rural development.
However further analysis of data received courtesy opinions of respondents revealed that the government has not done so much as it supposed for agricultural development in rural areas, more to this that most of the factors hindering the effective advancement of agriculture are not natural but man-made, hence could be solved.
However, it is suggested that further and more indepth research on this study should be done as to as to ascertain factors impending or militating against the contributions of agriculture to rural development, also on ways these contributions could be fully utilized to effectively develop rural areas.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY:
Agriculture according to Anyanwu, A. C. (1975) can be defined as “a cultivation of the land for the purpose of producing food for man and animals and also fibre or raw materials for our industries”. It also includes the processing and marketing of crops.
Another definition from V. O. Akinyosoye O. (1976) states that agriculture is concerned basically with the husbandry of crops and animals for food and other purpose.
Agriculture has been the main stay of man right from the earliest times. It is the oldest occupation and the entire world depends mostly on it for food requirements. In the olden days, man practiced crude method of farming which involved local tool such as stones, sticks and other related equipment.
Today, agriculture is being looked upon as a basic necessity of life. Food is an essential thing among the human needs. It is believed that without food, nobody can survive. This is as a result of the benefits of agriculture. Today also, private individuals, communities, states and federal government have geared every effort towards bringing agriculture to the door step of their citizens.
The development of agriculture started when the ancient hunters who depended on fruits and vegetables as well as animals as their food found out that some of the seeds. From the fruits they dropped, as they moved along germinated and grew on their own. They started nursing some of these economics fruit crops as their own. In his quest for food and shelter, man has adopted many agricultural practices through the ages and his technical skills and material resources grew. The four major types are hunting and gathering, pure subsistence agriculture, mixed subsistence with some cash crops production and pure commercial agriculture.
Agriculture sector is the leading non-oil sector in Nigeria economy. About 70 of the total population engaged in agriculture while about 30 of the total working population are taking part in white colar jobs and others in commercial activities. This is the reason why demand is greater than supply in Nigeria market, today concerning food production.
Since 1960, most people in the rural areas have been migrating to the urban areas in search of employment which offers a good living condition and because of this, agriculture is neglected.
There are also other problems that face agriculture already. These problems lies in the traditional and subsistence system of agriculture. Production techniques are poor and there are few applications of fertilizers and insecticides.
Many efforts and contributions have been made to improve agriculture and the production of agricultural products in this country particularly in Udi Local Government Area. As part of its contribution in finding solutions to the problems of Nigeria Agriculture, the Societe General Bank of Nigeria Limited organized three symposia in October 1984. The symposia served as forums for bringing together participants from the public and private sectors including farmers, industrialists, government officials and researcher.
This was held at the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture Ibadan on 16th and 17th October, 1984, while the second symposium took place at Durabar Hotel Kaduna on 22nd and 23rd October 1984. The third symposium was held in Lagos at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs on 25th and 26th October 1984.
The Ministry of Agriculture also arranged for effecting the collecting of agrometerological data to ensure successful timing of agricultural activities. The ministry established Young Farmers Club (YFC) to encourage youths under twenty five years to farm in their localities.
Other programmes had been mapped out towards achieving self sufficiency in food production, such programmes included the Operation Feed Nation (OFN), Green Revolution, Agricultural Development Project (ADP), MOSA etc. Again, the introduction of Better Life for rural women from rural to urban centres in search of white collar jobs. Again in the introduction of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 1960, agriculture was responsible for 63% of it. The major components of GDP being agriculture, mining, electricity, manufacturing etc.
All these efforts by the Ministry has made agriculture to be very important for the provision of most human needs.
For clarity purpose, it will be important to give a vivid description of the geographical background of the study area Udi.
Udi is a Local Government Area in Enugu States. It is bounded by some local government areas such as Ezeagu, Oji River, Nkanu, Enugu North and Awgu. It is a very populous local government area made up of about 19 towns.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM:
One of the major problems facing rural areas, both in Nigeria and other underdeveloped countries of the world, is the rural to urban migration. As young and energetic men and women migrate to the urban areas, the rural areas instead of developing tend to slide more and more into underdevelopment. Various government and agencies have been endeavouring in one way or the other to develop the rural areas of Nigeria, especially Udi Local Government Area which is the focus of this research. These include the provision of electricity, pipe borne water supply, access roads, etc. However, these measures have not fully stemmed the rural urban migration and the continuing decline of rural areas.
One of the major areas which I feel the government has not fully explored is the function which agriculture can play in enhancing rural development.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY:
The objective of this research is to assess or weigh the contribution which agriculture has provided to the development of Udi Local Government Area of Enugu State. Again to assess that the greatest problem facing many nations and developing states is hunger and poverty especially in the rural areas.
Furthermore, to change many negative attitude towards the introduction of some scientific equipment and method of farming.
A: To enable the country to achieve self sufficiency in the supply of foods by local production of adequate quantities of high quality foods to keep pace with the food demand of the production.
B: To provide raw material for local and foreign agrobased industries.
C: To provide employment opportunities for able bodied people and to satisfy the market demand for locally manufactured products.
1.4 DELIMITATION OF THE STUDY:
The researcher intends to find out the contributions of agriculture to rural development in Udi L.G.A. of Enugu State. Agriculture has contributed much since many rural areas use it as their main occupation and source of food to their family. The researcher intend to find or rather concentrate on the gain of agriculture to rural areas especially Udi Local Government Area.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY:
The study of the contributions of agriculture to the rural development of Udi Local Government Area is considered vital because it is believed that the result will help us to know the contributions which agriculture has provided to the local government area.
The findings will also alert government of Enugu State on some problems that hinder the contributions so that appropriate measures will be taken for improvement.
It is hoped that the findings will serve as a guide to the agricultural planners when adopting any programme.
The findings will further influence the habits and attitudes of the people who think that agriculture is meant for the illiterate and poor people. And by knowing the contributions and agriculture in the state, it will increase peoples incentives and will therefore, make way for more increase in the capacity of food production in Udi Local Government Area.
1.6 RESEARCH QUESTIONS:
1. What are the contributions of agriculture to rural development?
2. Does the contributions change the attitude of farmers towards agriculture?
3. Does it make life better to dwellers of Udi Local Government Area or worst for them.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS:
Agriculture: The cultivation of land, farming.
Husbandry: Farming Management e.g. animal husbandry
Symposium: Collection of essays by several persons on a problem
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