Perceived Effects of Professionalization of Extension Services by Public and Private Agents in South West Nigeria
AbstractAgricultural extension in Nigeria is at the verge of aspiring to a higher level of professionalism which will involve the accreditation, registration and certification of extension service providers by a recognized and legalized professional body in line with the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) mandate. This study thus specifically analyse the perceived effects of professionalization of extension services by extension agents in South West Nigeria. A structured questionnaire was used to elicit data from three hundred and one (301) public agents and fifty-five (55) private agents that were selected through a stratified random sampling technique. The findings revealed that majority of the public and private extension agents were married, live in their job location, have a rural background with majority of them however not involved in pursuing a higher degree. The public and private agents had basic knowledge about the concept of professionalization and exhibited a favourable attitude towards professionalizing extension services. T-test analysis revealed significant differences in the average number of children, years of experience, farmers group covered and distance to clients travelled by the public and private agents. Extension agents in both organizations exhibited a positive perception of the effects of professionalization of extension services in enhancing and improving delivery. Regression analysis revealed that variables such as the extension agents’ knowledge, attitude, years of experience, educational qualification and rural-urban background were significant determinants of their perceived effects of professionalization on service delivery. It was recommended that there is the need for extension agencies to support continuous professional development of extension agents through trainings and acquisition of relevant higher degrees that will help to enhance their knowledge thus upgrading their professionalization-readiness status. This will facilitate the smooth implementation of professionalization in the area for efficient service delivery.
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