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1.2 Background of the Study
Nigeria is an agrarian country with about 70% of her over 140 million people engaged in agricultural production (NBS/CBN, 2006) and provides subsistence for 2/3 of Nigerians who are low income earners (Usman, 2006). While the Northern part of the country can guarantee the production of cereals such as Sorghum, Maize, millet, groundnut, cowpea and cotton, the middle belt and the south has the potentials to produce root tubers such as cassava, yam, coco yam and other crops like plantain as well as maize (Abdullahi, 2008).
In addition to crops, the country is also involved in the production of livestock fisheries, forestry and wildlife (Ugwu and Kanu, 2012). But recently, there has been declining contributions of agriculture to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the past three decades. This could be associated with the gross neglect of the agricultural sector and over dependence on the oil sector. In the pre and post independence era (1930 to 1965), the Nigerian economy was predicated on agriculture.
Agriculture employed about 70 to 80% of the country labour force (Falusi and Olayide, 1980 quoted in Ugwu and Kanu, 2012) and contributed 60% of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and foreign exchange earnings (CBN, 2006). In the post oil boom era (1977-2002), the price of crude oil started fluctuating and falling, leading to a growing need to revitalize the agricultural sector as well as diversify the economy.
In order to revamp the agricultural sector, the Federal Government has embarked on and implemented several agricultural policies and programmes, some of which are defunct or abandoned while some others are still in place. These include: the farm settlement scheme, National Accelerated Food Production (NAFPP), President Shehu Shagari’s Green Revolution, former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Operation Feed the Nation and most recently President Goodluck Jonathan’s Agriculture Transformation Programme.
The Agricultural Transformation Programme focuses on achieving a hunger-free Nigeria through an agricultural sector that drives income growth, accelerates achievement of food and nutritional security, generates employment and transforms Nigeria into a leading player in the global food markets as well as to grow wealth for millions of farmers (FMARD, 2011). The transformation action plan for some priority agricultural commodities will be focused in the six geopolitical zones of the country. The commodities are rice, cassava, Sorghum, cocoa, cotton, maize, dairy, beef leather, poultry, oil palm, fisheries as well as agricultural extension (FMARD, 2011).
The cassava transformation action plan/campaign, an initiative of the federal government of Nigeria, seeks to create new generation of cassava-oriented farmers, towards commercial production and farming as a business and to link them up to reliable demands either for processing or guaranteed minimum price scheme of government (FMARD, 2011). It also has the strategy of turning the cassava sector in Nigeria into a major player in local and international starch, sweeteners, ethanol, high quality cassava flour and dried chips industries by adopting improved production and processing technologies and organizing producers and processors into efficient value – added chains (Iweka et al, 2002). In bringing this agenda into reality, Government through its agricultural agencies aims at bringing about a new orientation in the minds of people especially about cassava and its uses.
Cassava has played and continued to play a phenomenal role on the agricultural sector of Nigeria, and subsequently on the GDP of the Nation. Since its debut in the late 1600s on the Portuguese trade ships from Brazil into Nigeria, it has gone from minor crop to a major crop that accounts for between 40 -50% of all calories consumed in Southern and Central Nigeria. Nigeria now ranks the world largest producer of cassava, with current production estimated in 2009 at 36.8 million metric tons (FMARD, 2011). Systematic intervention in the cassava sector began in the early 1980s with the introduction of high yielding, bulking varieties resistant to Cassava Mosiac Disease (CMD) and Cassava Bacterial Blight (CBB); and the establishment of small scale processing facilities (Kormawa, 2003). These two interventions increased profit margin for producers alike and drove down prices of cassava food products for the rural and urban consumers.
There have been different cassava transformation initiatives, including the: Presidential initiative on cassava in 2003, which sought to position cassava as a commodity crop and foreign exchange earner, beyond its traditional role as a food crop; and the presidential cassava initiative of 2006, which raised the profile of cassava in Nigeria and demonstrated the immense potential of the country to increase production within a short time, which saw cassava production rising as high as 45 million metric tons, up from 35 million tons when the program started in 2003; and the current cassava transformation initiative implemented by the Hon. Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, which seeks to build upon the gains in all the aforementioned efforts, by bringing development in the cassava sub-sector through value-addition to realize opportunities that exist in the industrial and export sectors for cassava, and build equally, a market and increase income by at least, US$400 every year in 1.8 million farm facilities and to a million jobs to cassava sub-sector in Nigeria through doubling of production, processing, and marketing of cassava in the cassava growing belt of Nigeria over a period of four years.
The foregoing feat, notwithstanding, there is need for a greater awareness and sensitization of the citizens, particularly the farmers, on the gains of mass production of cassava, as it is only by this, that the people can appreciate the transformation program of the federal government and participate in the realization of the federal government objectives. It is worthy of note that, most campaign messages fail due to the type of media and methods of media used . Experience has equally shown that most campaign messages fail due to the fact that they are not planned and structured in line with the types of publics to be reached, the location of such publics, and the particular language and or dialect that can best get the attention and interest of such publics. It is equally noteworthy that, funding is as salient to any campaign messages’ planning and execution as blood is important to the body. Adequate and proper funding of campaign messages guarantee success while insufficient and misappropriated fund result to woeful failure of any campaign message. And these has been the lot in most federal government campaign programs, resulting from inadequate campaign programs’ execution, wrong choice of media and methods of communication, hiring of unqualified personnel or experts to help design the campaign messages and select the right media and methods, and little or no disbursement of funds for the campaign
programs, as well as lack of, or irregular monitoring and evaluation of designed and executed campaign messages.
It therefore, behooves on the federal government through its various Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to make the right choice, as it concerns adequacy and effectiveness of the awareness campaign, selection of the right media and methods of communication, selection of the right personnel (experts and professional), provision of adequate and appropriate fund, and regular and effective monitoring and evaluation of its communication campaign, if its campaign programs on cassava transformation must record huge and encouraging success.
1.2 Statement of Problem
Cassava no doubt has played and will continue to play a significant role on the growth and development of the agricultural sector of Nigeria, thereby, contributing immensely to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the nation. Cassava has gone from minor crop to a major crop that accounts for between 40-50% of calories consumed in Southern and Central Nigeria. Nigeria today ranks the world’s largest producers of cassava, with a current production estimate of 36.8 million in 2009 (FMARD, 2011).
Many cassava transformation initiatives have been introduced including: the presidential initiative of 2003, that sought to position cassava as a commodity crop and foreign exchange earner; and the presidential initiative on cassava of 2006, that raised the profile of cassava in Nigeria and demonstrated the immense potential of the country to increase production within a short time; and the current cassava transformation by the Federal Minister of Agriculture, that seeks to build upon the gains of the aforementioned efforts, by bringing development in the cassava sub-sector through value-addition to realize opportunities that exist in the industrial and export sectors for cassava, and build equally, a market and production support around farmers and processors by tackling existing technical and policy challenges, and increase income by at least, US$400 every year in 1.8 million farming families and to a million jobs to the cassava sub-sector in Nigeria through doubling of production, processing, and marketing of cassava in the cassava growing regions of Nigeria.
As lofty and novel as these initiatives/programs may appear, the uncertain thing is the level of awareness of Nigerians, particularly the farmers and most especially the rural farmers; that is, if there is adequate publicity and campaign messages meant to inform, educate, and enlighten the relevant publics of the existence of such cassava transformation initiatives. Another issue of concern is if the campaign messages are effective and efficient to elicit positive responses from the farmers, particularly the rural farmers towards cassava production. The right media and methods of communication campaign is another factor that determines the permeability and penetration and subsequent appreciation and positive response to such cassava transformation initiatives/programs, which in this study, the media and methods of communication campaign employed by NRCRI to market the cassava transformation initiatives/programs shall be examined. Funding is another factor that may hinder effective and efficient communication campaigns, talking about campaign messages’ scope, period, permeability and or penetration, channels, experts hired, etc. Another factor that determines the success of any campaign programme is effective monitoring and evaluation, which are lacking in many organizations both public and private, which from experience, has shown to be a major reason why most government campaign programs fail. It is therefore, in the light of the foregoing that the research seeks to assess the federal government’s communication campaign messages on the cassava transformation initiatives/programs at the National Root Crops Research Institute (NRCRI), Umudike, Abia State
1.3 Research Objectives
The main objective of this work is to assess the federal government’s communication
campaign on cassava transformation initiative as carried out by the National Root Crops
Research Institute, Umudike, Abia State.
The following are the specific objectives:
1) To determine if the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, significantly markets the cassava transformation initiative of the federal government.
2) To find out if there is communication campaign mix being employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing the cassava transformation initiative of the federal government.
3) To ascertain whether there are communication campaign models being employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing product.
4) To investigate whether the various communication campaign strategies that are being employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, have significantly enhanced the marketing of the cassava transformation initiatives of the federal government.
1.4 Research Questions
1) Does the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, significantly market the cassava transformation campaign?
2) Is there communication campaign mix employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing the Cassava transformation initiatives of the federal government?
3) Are there communication campaign models employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing the Cassava transformation initiatives of the federal government?
4) Have the various communication campaign strategies employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, significantly enhanced the marketing of the Cassava transformation initiatives of the federal government?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The following null hypotheses are postulated for this research work
1. The National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike does not significantly market the cassava transformation initiative of the federal government.
2. There is no communication campaign mix being employed by National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing the Cassava transformation initiative of the federal government.
3. There are no communication campaign models being employed by the National Root Crops Research Institute, Umudike, in marketing the cassava transformation initiative of the federal government.
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