1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The success of agricultural development programmes in developing countries largely depends on the nature and extent of use of mass media in mobilizing farmers who live mostly in rural areas for the need for development. Communication has been acknowledged for playing, a prominent role in the success of agricultural production and adoption of innovations through programmes aired. The planners in developing countries realized that the development of agriculture could be hastened with the effective use of mass media (GCRA, 2003). Mass media has been defined as any material, objects, instruments or system which serves to communicate information including letters, pamphlets, and other written and printed materials, all types of cinema films, radio, television and video system (Adams, 1982).
Several channels such as the extension agent, individuals, farmers-to-farmers contact, print media (news papers, magazines, news letter, pamphlet and posters) and electronics media (Radio, television, and film schedules and films trips) have been widely used to disseminate information to farmers in rural area (Van & Hawkins, 1992; Olowu & Oyedokun, 2000).
Among the mass media means of communication, radio is found to be the most important means of communicating agricultural information to the rural farmers. In the opinion of (Kuponiyi, 2000), radio is one of the broadcast medium which the rural populations are very familiar with and which almost all experts identified to be the most appropriate for rural emancipation programme. This is because radio beats distance and has immediate effect on farmers. Furthermore, radio is favored as a medium of communication in rural communities because of the advantages ascribed to it, inform of transcending the barrier of illiteracy and demanding less intellectual exertion than the print media massages (Folarin, 1990).
Absence of a functional agricultural information delivery system is a major constraint to agricultural development in Nigeria. Aina, (1989) identified non-provision of necessary agricultural information as a key factor limiting agricultural development in Nigeria. According to Youdeowei (1995), lack of access to relevant agricultural information by farmers in developing countries cuts across all subsectors of agriculture and different stages of agricultural production process.
Farmers need to be informed and educated about improved agricultural practices to enable them increase their productivity and income. Radio is one broadcast medium which almost all experts identify to be the most appropriate for rural emancipation programme. This is because a radio set is cheap to obtain and is widely owned in the rural areas. This is made possible by the advent of the battery-operated transistorized sets.
The terms rural radio have come to be used to describe FM stations established to broadcast to a local and predominantly rural audience. The growth of rural radio stations over the past few decades reflects both the improvements in information technologies and the shifting development paradigm towards a more participatory style of information and knowledge transfer.
Rural area based radio is the focus of this study because the predominantly agricultural audiences of these stations can benefit from information to improve their livelihoods. Radio initiatives as part of broader communication for development strategies have been used by international organizations such as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations since the late 1960s.
Radio stations set up in rural areas have a predominantly agricultural clientele. Whether those who run them are pursuing the development objectives of the station’s funder or simply aiming to entertain, they are aware that agricultural issues are very high on their listeners’ priorities. However, agricultural extension systems have only shifted to more participatory approaches relatively recently and so much of their early efforts used the top-down technical scientific information approach which tended to ignore the diversity of both local agricultural problems and the farmers’ existing knowledge and skills. Other social development sectors, such as health and education, have been more effective, using rural radio to communicate messages to a target community or a specific demographic group. In many areas radio stations have become highly valued for interacting with specific disadvantaged groups and for handling complex social problems.
The Independent Television/Radio, Benin City, Edo state owned by Sir Chief G.O. Igbinedion was inaugurated by the Oba of Benin, Omo ‘N’ Oba Nedo, Uku Akpolokpolo Oba Erediawa on Saturday 7th November 1998 urging the Station’s operators to carry out their objectives with the same zeal for the running of Independent Television which was founded a year earlier and has demonstrated excellence. There has been the acquisition of State of the Art digital ultra high-tech virtual studios equipment including high definition cameras, teleprompters, virtual studio components, complete digital studio lightening systems and digital sound console. The station is located at Iguosa, an outskirt of Benin where rural farmers can easily receive clear signals of Independent Television/radio.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
The reason behind airing any agricultural programme by any mass media means is to sensitize and educate farmers about improved agricultural practice needed to be adopted. This implies that radio agricultural programmes are an effective tool in creating awareness on improved agricultural programmes among farmers. Rural radio broadcasting when skillfully used has proved to be the most effective medium of communication, which is essential for developing societies. Radio is also the most highly used media in accessing development and agricultural information. The listeners of agricultural programmes are supposed to make use of various improved practices they gained knowledge of and they found the program aired as very useful to their agricultural practices.
Despite the fact that many researches were conducted on the importance of radio agricultural programmes on listeners in the rural area, no such study was conducted and documented in the study area. This may limits the listener’s assessment of improved agricultural technology and hence affects their level of production. This allowed a huge gap that tends to limit farmers awareness on the relevance and efficiency of radio as source of information for improving their agricultural activities. Based on the above, it is therefore, imperative to examine the listener’s assessment on agricultural programmes on rural area based radio.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The following are the objectives of this study:
- To examine the level of listeners/farmer’s usage and reactions on agricultural programmes on rural area based radio.
- To determine the perception of listeners benefits of rural agricultural programmes aired on Independent Television/radio on the listeners.
- To examine the opinion of the listeners on the quality of agricultural programmes of Independent Television/radio in Edo State.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the level of listeners/farmer’s usage and reactions on agricultural programmes on rural area based radio?
- What is the perception of listeners benefits of rural agricultural programmes aired on Independent Television/radio on the listeners?
- What is the opinion of the listeners on the quality of agricultural programmes of Independent Television/radio in Edo State?
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The following are the significance of this study:
- Based on the importance of knowledge through agricultural programmes aired on rural radio to the development of agriculture in the Nigeria, the results from this study will form a useful guide for policy makers in sponsoring many other useful agricultural programs. It will also educate the general public on the benefits of listening to agricultural programmes on rural radio.
- This research will be a contribution to the body of literature in the area of the listener’s assessment on agricultural programmes on rural area based radio, thereby constituting the empirical literature for future research in the subject area.
1.6 SCOPE/LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
This study is limited to public listeners of Independent Television/radio agricultural programmes living in Benin and rural environment. It will also cover the opinion of the listeners on the quality of the agricultural programmes aired in Independent Television/radio.
LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint- Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint- The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Radio: the transmission and reception of electromagnetic waves of radio frequency, especially those carrying sound messages.
Agricultural programmes: educative and informative piece aired on radio to boost the knowledge of farmers in their techniques
Mass media: any of the means of communication, as radio, television or newspapers that reach very large numbers of people
Rural area: Sparsely populated area outside of the limits of a city or town or a designated commercial, industrial, or residential center. Rural areas are characterized by farms, vegetation, and open spaces.
Development: the process in which someone or something grows or changes and becomes more advanced