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The study was conducted to identify the challenges in administering the Cross River State Ministry of Agriculture, Nigeria. All the staff of the ministry constituted the population for the study. A proportionate sampling technique was used in selecting respondents, with twenty percent (20%) of respondents from each of the departments. Thus the total sample size for the study was one hundred and thirteen (113) respondents. Percentages, mean and frequency were used in the presentation and analysis of the data collected. The result of the study showed that the majority of staff (85.5%) were married and 64.5% of respondents were males; the mean age of staff was 43.85%. About 43.5% of the respondents had Bachelor of science (B.Sc) as their highest educational qualification, above average (55.3%) of the staff specialized in agricultural science related discipline. Results revealed that the State government (85.5%) was the ministry's major source of funding, and 80.9% indicated that fund was insufficient. They agreed the approved budget was three hundred and sixty nine million, four hundred and nineteen thousand, three hundred and sixty five hundred, forty one kobo (N 367,419,365.41) rather than a proposed budget of one billion, five hundred and sixty eight million, six hundred and twenty two thousand, eight hundred and sixty three naira, zero kobo (N1,568,622,863.00) for different departments. The ministry is understaffed by three hundred and fifty seven persons (357) and lacks infrastructure as only buildings for offices was indicated as available (71.8%) and functional (62.7%) by respondents. Major constraints identified from this result were: poor funds for purchase of equipment (M=2.18), improper and inadequate staffing (M=1.55), insufficient electricity supply (M=2.49), inadequate funding of State ministry's interrelationship activities (M=2.54). Results also show that the State ministry had weak linkage with universities (M=1.31) and the research institutes (M=1.37). Suggestions to address the challenges are: increased budgetary allocation (54.5%), training and retraining of staff (58.2%), constant recruitment (36.4%), funding for research work and facilities (32.7%).
1.1 Background Information
To administer means to serve, to direct, to control and to manage affairs. Administering according to Paulinadu (2005) is a rational human activity, inherent in any organization public or private. He further added that to administer involves a cooperative human effort towards achieving a common goal. In the words of Gladden (2007), administration is a long and slightly pompous word, with a humble meaning-caring for people and managing affairs. He further defines it as determined actions taken in pursuit of a conscious purpose. It is thus a goal-oriented, purposive, cooperative, joint activity undertaken by a group of people (MacQueen, 2007), which consists of only three factors: men, materials and methods.
Willoughby (2007) divides the scope of administration into five categories. These are General Administration: which entails who is to perform the function of direction, supervision, and control; Organization: which deals with building up the structures for the actual performance of the administrative work; Personnel: stating who manages different services; Materials and supply: enlisting the tools with which the work of administration is carried on and finally Finance: making provision for the financial needs of administration.
Administration can likewise be understood as the operational performance of routine office tasks, which is usually internally oriented and reactive rather than proactive (Encyclopedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition). The essence of administration, is to plan projects, “wield together” an organization for their accomplishments, keep the organization functioning smoothly and efficiently to achieve their goals within the allotted personnel, time and resources available. (http://staff.neu.edu.tr/~apolatoglu/files/inttopubadm.pdf).
The full institutionalization of agricultural administration in Nigeria commenced in 1900 (Federal Ministry of agriculture, Water Resources and Rural development -FMAWRRD, 1988). Following expert advice, the military government created full-fledged Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources in 1966 (Food and Agriculture Organization-FAO, 1966) and with changes in government structure from regional to state and local governments, administration of agriculture in Nigeria became decentralized leading to the creation of state ministry of agriculture as well as department of agriculture in the local government areas. The state ministries and local government department of agriculture were saddled with the responsibilities of complimenting the Federal government policies on agriculture in their domain (Federal Government of Nigeria-FGN, 2001).
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), regulates research in agriculture, natural resources, forestry and veterinary medicine all over Nigeria. The mandate of the ministry is to be a significant net provider of food to the global community, through the promotion of agricultural development and management of national resources in a value-chain approach to achieve sustainable food security, enhance farm income and reduce poverty (http://www.fmard.gov.ng/).
The Cross River State Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources is charged with empowering, reinvigorating and transforming agricultural production in the state (Cross River State Ministry of Agriculture-CRSMOA, 2012). The state government working with the federal government and other development agencies like International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), FADAMA III and the World Bank through the Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CADP) provides assistance to farmers and investors across the agricultural value chain (CRSMOA, 2012). This includes the acquisition and preparation of land, provision of inputs, and providing technical assistance through the Ministry of Agriculture’s Extension Unit (http://www.crossriverstate.gov.ng/).
Cross River State Ministry of Agriculture has eleven departments: Livestock; Veterinary; Produce services; Fishery; Agricultural services; Agricultural finances; Cross River Agricultural Rural Empowerment Scheme (CARES); Administration; Finance and supplies; Planning, Research and Statistics and finally Agricultural development programme. The livestock development services department was established to supply seed stock for sundry livestock and provide technical support to farmers in the livestock production and management; the veterinary service department was established to provide quality health care for farm and domestic animals, including pets through prophylactic and curative treatments of animals and to ensure wholesome meat products; the fisheries development department to promote fish farming as an income generating activity and provide information to the public (CRSMOA, 2012).
Furthermore, the agricultural service department was established to support and promote farming activities with a view to increasing crop production; the agricultural finance department was established to facilitate financing and marketing for agricultural enterprise and last but not the least amongst the few departments mentioned is the produce service department which was established to monitor, control and certify standards of quality post-harvest agricultural produce for export or sale in other parts of the country (CRSMOA, 2012).
The state ministry of agriculture has in the past and present implemented several programmes and projects to actualize its set objectives. These include;
a. Cross River Commercial Agriculture Development Project (CRCADP): It is a World Bank supported project established in 2005 aimed at improving agricultural production in Nigeria by supporting commercial agriculture production, processing and marketing outputs amongst small and medium scale commercial farmers and agro-processors with three (3) value chains of cocoa, oil palm and rice as its target.
b. Cross River Agricultural and Rural Empowerment Scheme (CARES): This programme was established as a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to assist government in securing finance and partnerships in the agricultural sector, so as to reduce government expenditure in the sector and also increase accountability in the execution of agricultural projects.
c. Cross River Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CRCACS): This scheme was established to provide assistance to farmers and investors across the agricultural value chain by facilitating single digit loans that will help in increasing their output through the provision of soft loans to farmers and those engaged in farming activities to enhance national food security by increasing food supply thereby reducing the prices of agricultural produce in the state and country.
d. IFAD/FGN/NDDC Community Based Natural Resource Management Programme: This is supported and funded by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and the Cross River State Government. The programme is focused on reducing poverty in the nine (9) Niger Delta States of Cross River, Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Abia, Imo and Ondo. The strategy is to use community development approach in improving the living standards and quality of life of rural families.
e. Fadama Development Programme (FADAMA III): A World Bank assisted project targeted at subsistent farmers, the rural poor, pastoralists, fisher folks, processors, hunters, gatherers and other economic interest groups in the Agricultural Value Chain to sustainably increase the income of land and water users. There are about 200 of the Fadama Community Association currently existing in the state through which fund are disbursed to the target audience.
f. Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES): This is one of the many critical components of the Federal government's Agricultural Transformation Agenda (ATA). It was designed for the specific purpose of providing affordable agricultural inputs like fertilizers and hybrid seeds to farmers in order to increase their yields per hectare and make it comparable to world standard because in the past there were complains of diversion, exorbitant cost and adulteration of various inputs to farmers, which ultimately led to low productivity, increased poverty, unemployment and lack of interest in farming (CRSMOA, 2012).
In light of all these programmes implemented in the state for the main purpose of increased productivity, rural development, sustainable living and transformed agriculture, there has been a gradual decline in the state's agricultural contributions to the nation's economy, its rural dwellers and farmers. This decline in the state’s agricultural sector can largely among other things be attributed to poor administration on the part of the government.
1.2 Problem statement
There are many challenges which hinder the delivery of public service reforms in Africa (Lienert, 2003). The factors include those relating to human resources like manpower deficiencies and lack of psychological dispositions and shortage of financial and material resources necessary for effective delivery of services. The problems of accountability as well as ethical issues also continue to affect effective delivery of public service.
The Cross River State ministry of agriculture was established primarily to administer agricultural policies, services, pricing, support programmes and schemes, drought management and business strategy for its products as well as to enhance the quality of life of the people. Others include; prioritizing the agricultural research, food inspection, export and import policy making, and distribution of food in rural and urban areas of the country during crisis period like drought, flood, erosion or natural calamity (Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development-FMARD, 2001).
To enable the State Ministry achieve its set objectives, Successive administrations developed agricultural programmes and projects such as; Cross River Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CRCACS), Cross Rivers State Agricultural and Rural Empowerment Scheme (CARES), Oil palm production project and the pineapple production project under the Cross River Agricultural Development Programme (CRADP), Root and Tuber Expansion Programme (RTEP), Fadama development programme (FADAMA III), Songhai Cross River Initiative (SCRI), Cross River Commercial Agriculture Development Programme (CRCADP).
Over the years, the State Ministry of Agriculture experienced a huge success in their programme implementation, food security strategy, improve productivity technologies and many more as a result of good and proper administration (U. Martins, personal communication, January 21, 2013 ). There was an effective follow up and evaluation methods of extension units of the State Ministry of agriculture, farmers were properly assisted by the state government, donor agencies and even private organizations to ensure that the standard of living of the populace was achieved through agriculture (E. Abang, personal communication, January 21, 2013). But most of these programmes experienced persisted failure and untimed implementation, revealing the basic weakness of agricultural policies and the inability of the several administrations to solve the basic and fundamental problems of agricultural development (Amalu, 1998; Iwuchukwu and Igbokwe, 2012).
The failures came in different measures which will be viewed accordingly as based on the different categories of administration :
a) The Cross River Agricultural and Rural Empowerment Scheme (CARES) established to help increase agricultural output across the state experienced mismanagement of fund and inadequate facilities despite efforts by its counterpart agencies to provide them (Anari, personal communication, January 21, 2013). This resulted to poor infrastructures, inadequate funds for the purchase and maintenance of equipment and low manpower needed at its implementation stage.
b) The Cross River Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CRCACS) initiated with the intent to provide loan to smallholder and rural farmers to help fund their agricultural activities after few years of success encountered some untimely release of fund thereby creating problems for farmers in accessing the loan they needed for an effective productivity.
c) The Oil Palm production project was a programme under the Cross River State Agricultural Development Programme (CRADP) in the 19th century, it accounted huge export earnings for the nation. According to Obeten (personal communication, January 21, 2013), The programme failed when its processing capacity became very low because most of the mills and other equipments used in the state became obsolete resulting to low productivity. Sometimes, the palm kernel crackers and crushers were unavailable, as such these led to an under-utilization of by-products from oil palm processing.
d) The pineapple project initiated in 1999 with so much success which contributed about 30% to the state Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was terminated with the emergence of a new government a clear case of policy summersault (U. Ubi, personal communication, January 21, 2013).
e) There is concern that rather than recruit new staff, the ministry would rather transfer staff from one programme to another which in most cases led to work overload for that staff and created unfilled vacancies in the state ministry (F. Obeten, personal communication, January 21, 2013).
In light of all the afore mentioned setbacks and failures in programme implementation, and management of resources in the State Ministry, there is therefore need to identify the present challenges facing Cross River State Ministry of Agriculture of Nigeria, proffer possible solutions to these challenges to pave way for a better future in the ministry. The pertinent questions therefore are; what are the challenges facing the state ministry of agriculture in terms of funding, personnel, infrastructure and linkages? And what strategies can be adopted to address these challenges?
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