ICT use in agricultural extension service delivery: a case study of the edo state agricultural development program (ESADP), Benin-City, Edo state, Nigeria.
Uahomo, Courage Efeomo.
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Due to the ever-evolving nature of ICTs, studies have continuously shown that their use plays a very significant role in a country’s economic development, and the agricultural sector is not left out. This survey describes perceptions on using ICTs by field-level and office-based agricultural extension workers at the Edo State Agricultural Development Program (ESADP), Benin-City, Edo state, Nigeria. This research investigates the awareness, roles, benefits and challenges of using ICTs among office-based and field-level agricultural extension personnel employed by the ESADP. An online questionnaire was pre-tested and released to the target group using Survey Monkey. Responses were digitized, and descriptive analysis was used to identify patterns in the data. The target group was a non-random purposive target of 100 extension staff meeting the criteria of access to and utilization ICTs in their line of work. Ninety-five of those responded. The results indicated that most (98%) of field-level and (94%) office-based respondents were aware of using ICTs for agricultural extension service delivery. Ease of use and access to timely and accurate information were the main reasons why extension workers use ICTs. However, the study observed that the challenges encountered were erratic power supply, delayed response from the service providers, and discrepancies between the desire to use and the provision/maintenance of the resources needed for access. Based on the findings from this study, a need to fill the gap between the desire to use ICT devices and accessibility gave rise to the following recommendations: that more agricultural extension workers be recruited and trained to balance the farmer:extension worker ratio and to address the technological gap that currently exist in the system, that best practice is to provide an enabling environment that will encourage and support software licensing, provide suitable hardware, and that infrastructural development should also be given immediate attention in order to alleviate the issue of poor services rendered to the people.