This study evaluated visual instructional materials roles in agricultural extension services in the North-West Zone of Nigeria, comprising seven states Kaduna, Kano Katsina, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara. The total number of respondents randomly selected was 56 agricultural extension agents and 14 respondent farmers through the use of both purposive and random sampling techniques in the study area. Data were analysed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The findings revealed that 70% respondents were male, 30% were female. In gender variation male users of visual instructional materials in agricultural extension services were dominant. The study also found that 62% of the users were between the ages 18-39 years, and those of ages 40-59 years constituted 34% while those within 60 years and above were 4%. The result showed 87% of the users were married with 12% being single, 1% where divorced. Youths were higher in number which may be attributed to high rate of unemployment in Nigeria. The evaluation found that the level of awareness of participants farmers and extension agents across the Zone and the overall roles impact in agricultural activities were significantly greater in technology adoption through the usage of visual instructional materials. The findings further showed the educational status of the users. The data shows that 12% had primary education, 24% secondary education, while majority had tertiary education of 64%. Language preferred by users was English which ranked 62.3%. Also, the data reveals that Hausa has 27.4% and Arabic (Ajami) 10.3%. The results also showed illustration and pictorial representation had 78.8% level of effectiveness in designing visual instructional materials for agricultural extension usage, and 86.5% accepted colour usage while 13.5% did care much about colours in visual materials. The findings further revealed usage of visual materials in agricultural extension activities very effective ranking 50%, and effective 38.5% while usage in a specially organized extension programmes level of effectiveness at 61.5% and farmers‟ adoption of new ideas was over 80% across the seven states. The evaluation further disclosed that the seven states in the Zone used visual instructional materials extensively where Kebbi state ranked 82%, Kaduna 78%, Katsina 69%, Jigawa 62%, Kano 60%, Zamfara 58% and Sokoto 42%, while each state visuals used indicated posters ranked 96%, sign posts 84%, banners 78%, illustrations 74%, flyers 65% Charts 62% and photographs 45%. The results of Chi-square ( calculated) tests procedures of research hypotheses on visual instructional usage and adoption were statistically significant at 5% level. This led to the rejection of the mull hypotheses and the affirmation that the roles of visual instructional materials usage in agricultural extension services had significant effects on the livelihood of rural farmers in adopting new ideas in agricultural practices thereby improving their quality of life. The test of visual usage overall was significant at 90% and overall adoption at 87.5%. However, the study also identified some constraints limiting the optimal usage of visual instructional materials ranging from:- (a) lack of adequate trained extension agents, (b) lack of adequate trained graphic artists, (c) ignorance of the participants involved, (d) organizational impediments, (e) lack of required instructional visuals, (f) lack of adequate capital, (g) differing perspectives, (h) language barriers and (i) illiteracy level. However, despite the numerous constraints the evaluation indicated significant levels of visual instructional materials usage and adoption among farmers and agricultural extension agents across the North-West zone of Nigeria. Finally, the following recommendation were made:- Based on the overall findings, it is therefore recommended that the usage of graphic visuals in agricultural extension activities should be encourage to use visual instructional materials for effective communication in all agricultural programmes. The youths should be encouraged to get involved in agricultural extension programmes to sustain the agricultural sectors and similar sectors to reduce the level of social and security problems associated to youth‟s unemployment in the country and the world at large.
1.0 Background to the Study
Agriculture has been recognized as the most important sector of the economy of developing countries. Developments in this sector have therefore, frequently attracted attention of governments, scholars, and citizens of these countries as well as international organizations. This has been particularly true in Nigeria where declining productivity and rising population in the last two decades have led to a growing concern over the need and opportunity for agricultural development (Atala, 2006). However, not enough effort has been invested in research to design and implement effective extension programmes that are appropriate to the needs of the majority rural farmers, who are the producers of the bulk of the country‟s food and raw materials
Agricultural Extension is an informal educational process which aims to teach farmers how to improve their level of living by their own effort, through making wise use of natural resources at their disposal for better systems of farming and homemaking, for the benefit of the individual, the family, the community and the nation at large. (IAR Extension Roll-Up(2013), www.abu.edu/institute.iar,( 2014).
In the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Samaru mandate covering the North-west states, the Agricultural extension services was established to develop and maintain strong research extension farmer linkages for the purpose of effective dissemination of research results to end-users to: