- Background information
Agriculture plays a major role in the economy of the countries of West Africa, contributing more than 40 percent to its GDP and providing income and employment to about 70 percent of the region’s population (Nigeria Economic Outlook Report 2010 – 2011 periods, in National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), 2012). Therefore, the performance of the sector is important to the economic growth and development of the majority of the Economic Community of West African States countries (ECOWAS). In order to significantly reduce poverty in the region, an annual GDP growth rate of at least 8 to 10 percent is required to be sustained in the countries of the region. Based on this background, the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programmes (CAADP) 2001 framework projected the need for agriculture growth to attain at least a 6 percent rate. Attaining this growth requires substantial increases in technology generation and use; and strengthened linkages between research systems, extension and advisory services to farmers and agribusinesses.
In 2005, the World Bank designed the African Action Plan (AAP) as the centre piece of its strategy to help Africa and its sub- regional groups such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing the number of hungry people by 50% by 2015. The AAP emphasizes three focal areas – one of which is strengthening the drivers of economic growth. ECOWAS, in response to the AAP, then formulated the West Africa Agricultural Topicivity Programme (WAAPP) as an implementing instrument for achieving two principal objectives of the focal areas which are to:
- Make agriculture more productive and sustainable;
- Support sub-regional integration.
WAAPP, which aligned with CAADP, is focused on transforming the region’s agriculture through the development, dissemination and use of improved agricultural technologies in the 15 member countries of ECOWAS (WAAPP – Nigerian Bulletin August, 2013). The Goal of WAAPP is to contribute to sustained agricultural productivity growth in the ECOWAS region’s top priority commodity subsectors. WAAPP’s Development programme Objective (PDO) is to generate and accelerate adoption of improved technologies in the participating countries’ top agricultural commodity priority areas that are aligned with the sub-region’s top agricultural commodity priorities as outlined in the ECOWAP. (WAAPP Nigerian bulletin, 2013)
WAAPP’s outcome indicators include that:
- Total direct beneficiaries of the project have reached 2,000,000;
- At least three improved technologies have been released by each center of specialization;
- For all the released technologies there will be improvement in yield by at least 15% over the control technology;
- A total area of 800,000 hectares covered by the improved technologies disseminated by the project,
- An adoption of improved varieties by at least one-third of the beneficiaries of the project and;
- For the rescue of a monoculture economy.
WAAPP’s outcomes at the end of 5-year implementation period are:
- 30% productivity increase (farmers’ yield) achieved over the control technology in at least two of the region’s top priority commodity subsectors in each participating country; and
- Adoption of improved varieties by at least 70% of the beneficiaries of the project, with clear spill-over effects across participating countries.
The University of Nigeria – West Africa Agriculture Topicivity Programme, is a World Bank –funded effort to address common agricultural production and environmental challenges, food insecurity and poor economic growths, which are common hurdles facing the West African region and sub –Saharan African in general. It was introduced to reinforce agricultural potentials in the West Africa region by the introduction and dissemination of various improved varieties of crops like maize, cassava, including aquaculture (Cat-fish), among others. The West Africa Agriculture Topicivity Programme’s specific objectives are:
- Accelerated use and dissemination of improved technology for purposes of reinforcing regional links, exchange of technical information and developing expertise in state specific priority areas and;
- Creation of supportive engagements and capacities that enable stakeholders to address poverty alleviation efforts and challenges in agriculture and environmental sector of the government agricultural developmental polices.
WAAPP is serving a useful purpose in bringing the funding of agricultural research back to the policy agenda. It is also a key tool for the implementation of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP,. (WAAPP – Nigerian Bulletin August, 2013).
The West Africa Agriculture Topicivity Programme (WAAPP) will make significant contribution to sustained agricultural productivity and facilitation of supportive engagements and capacities in the ECOWAS region’s top priority commodity sub-sectors. Given its diverse stakeholders and unique opportunities and strengths, this vision can be fulfilled through a well thought-out-multifaceted approach that will address its divergent levels of interest, involvement, stakeholders and needs (WAAPP – Nigerian Bulletin August, 2013).
The priority of the project is to generate and disseminate improved technologies in the top priority areas of the participating countries that are aligned with top priorities of the region. The project has a unique diversity and broad perspective that it draws from. The different country contexts, the interests and beliefs of stakeholders, levels of operation and engagement, cultural backgrounds and economic strengths and weaknesses, all make it a great endeavor. The strategic approach involves linking actors and processes by reinforcing participation, engagements, relations and a sense of ownership through ICTs and through the facilitation of improved technologies (WAAPP, 2013).
The effort of WAAPP is assisting in realizing the nation’s agricultural potential by:
- Creating enabling conditions for sub-regional cooperation in technology generation and dissemination;
- Transforming the national institute for Fresh Water Fisheries (NIFFR),Nigeria Stored Topics Research Institute (NSPRI) and Nigeria Institute for Oceanography Research (NIOMR) into a National Centre of Specialization (NCOS) in aquaculture;
- Funding demand-driven technology generation and adaptation; and
- Establishing an effective coordination, management and monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system, improving access of participating farmers to improved agricultural technologies.
University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) is one of the thirteen universities in Nigeria that participated in implementing the project. Since inception in 2013 catfish production, distribution of maize seeds, and improved cassava stem distribution have been the major focus of WAAPP dissemination unit of the University of Nigeria,It is expected that farmers will benefit from improved crop varieties and in aquaculture, agribusinesses /marketers will benefit from advanced innovations in agricultural product handling and processing technologies.
For these technologies to receive corresponding response from the target beneficiaries much will depend on their perception of the efforts being made. Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of sensory information from seeing, hearing, smelling, touching and orienting (Wikipedia, 2009). Perception is the process by which individuals interpret and organize sensation to produce a meaningful experience of the world; this therefore shows that perception is closely related to attitudes (Lindsay & Norman, 1977). In other words, a person is confronted with a situation or stimuli. The person interprets the stimuli into something meaningful based on prior experiences. However, what an individual interprets or perceives may be substantially different from reality. Perception provides information about the environment around us, and such information emerges from the counterfactual dependence between the environment and the corresponding perceptual experiences (Otávio, 2013).
1.2 Problem statement
The Federal Government of Nigeria saw the need to evolve new agricultural programmes for the rescue of mono-cultural economy (Amalu, 1998). Such programmes include the Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) in 1976, Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS-1977), Green Revolution (GR-1980), Integrated Rural Development Programme, later Agricultural Development Programme (ADP-1985), Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DFRRI-1987), the National Land Development Authority (NALDA- 1992), the National Fadama Development Project (NFDP-1992), and the National Special Program for Food Security (NSPFS-2003), Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Program (CAADP-2001) and West Africa Agriculture Topicivity programme (WAAPP-2005). (Ajayi 2001; Dauda, 2008). These programmes were fashioned to revolutionize agricultural sector of Nigerian economy which was derailing from its normal contribution to the economy (Oriola, 2009).
Unfortunately, many of these agricultural programmes did not yield anticipated positive results because farmers were not involved in the design of such programmes and in most cases top bottom approaches were used, hence, farmers felt needs were not addressed. Farmers were considered as conservative, they tend to resist changes especially when the change seems not to meet their felt needs. These led to many farmers losing their confidence in agricultural development policies or programmes for the fact that the above reasons are not considered.
Nigeria implemented an Agricultural Transformation Agenda that was aimed at revamping the agricultural sector, ensuring food security, diversifying the economy, jobs and wealth creation and enhancing foreign exchange earnings. The Transformation Agenda anchors on the development of agricultural value chains as a major focus. Integrated Agricultural Research for Development (IAR4D) forms the basis for this noble course. However, research findings can only be relevant in development when fully understood and adopted by the end-users. To this end, the Nationally Coordinated Research Projects (NCRPs), which are critical tools in technology development must play their crucial role in our national agricultural development which led to directed efforts in the regional collaboration as WAAPP (WAAPP – Nigerian Bulletin August, 2013).
Given this peculiar nature and approach of WAAPP as well as the fact that the UNN arm of WAAPP is a university based one, it was then important to examine how the programme has been implemented around the University of Nigeria catchment area and the general perception of farmers towards the implementation process of the programme. It is against this background that this study sought to answer these pertinent questions. What are the participants’ perception of the programme’ effectiveness? What is the participants’ level of satisfaction in the implementation of the programme? What are their perceived constraints to effective implementation of the WAAPP programme? and, what are their perceived strategies for effective implementation of the programme?
1.3. Purpose of the study
The overall purpose of the study was to ascertain the beneficiaries’ perceptions of the University of Nigeria West Africa Agriculture Topicivity Programme (WAAPP) in Enugu state. Specifically, the study sought to:
1 .ascertain attitude of beneficiaries to WAAP programme activities;
- determine the level of participation of beneficiaries in WAAPP activities;
- ascertain participants’ perception on the effectiveness of the programme
- identify participants’ level of satisfaction in the implementation of the programme;
- determine perceived constraints to participation and,
- identify strategies for effective participation of the programme.
1.4 Significance of the study
The WAAPP programme is one of the most recent agricultural interventions of Nigeria in response to the problem of poverty and food security prevalence in the country. The significance of this study is rooted in the need to objectively find out how the project has fared so far. The study will reveal the success and needs of the project. These will be achieved by identification of the level of participation of the beneficiaries and determination of the general perception of the beneficiaries of the WAAPP programme. The study will also help identify constraints to effective implementation of the project.
The recommendations that would be proffered from the findings of the study could be used as tools by the policy makers and implementers to enhance the plan, design and execution of similar future projects. The findings of this study will equally be useful to individuals and groups alike who in the future want to go into similar research either in the study area or elsewhere.