EFFECTS OF AGRICULTURAL EXTENSION EDUCATION ON PROMOTION OF HORTICULTURAL FARMING: A CASE OF KAITI FARMERS ASSOCIATION, MAKUENI COUNTY, KENYA
Purpose of the Study: Agricultural Extension occupies a central role in instilling information that increases farmer’s productivity; this is based on the fact that information is the most critical element in farming since it empowers them to be able to make the right decisions. This research therefore sought to investigate how farmers in Kaiti Sub County are influenced by the extension services. The objectives of the research included: To establish the effects of information dissemination by extension officers on horticultural farming; to discuss the effects of frequency of contact by extension officers with farmers on horticultural farming and to assess the effects of monitoring activities by extension officers on horticultural farming in Kaiti Sub County, Makueni County.
Statement of the Problem: Farmers in Kaiti Sub County are under pressure to adopt modern farming methods, innovative practices and information about market trends. This adoption of the practices will ultimately improve their agricultural production. However, not much research has been done to explain the nexus between the agricultural practices and the extension services, especially in Kaiti Sub County and this creates a gap in knowledge especially in rural areas which demonstrates how agricultural extension plays a role in horticultural growth.
Methodology: The study adopted a descriptive case study design and specifically targeted. Kaiti Horticultural farmers’ association and extension officers in Kaiti Sub County who were selected purposively. The study also adopted both qualitative and quantitative approaches in which questionnaires and interviews were administered to the respondents. The farmers were selected randomly until when the sample of 97 was reached based on Krejcie and Morgan (1970) formulae of selecting an appropriate sample. For every ten farmers, one extension officer was selected randomly, hence out of the 97; there were 9 extension officers in addition to 88 farmers. Data was analyzed with the aid of the computer software statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) in which graphs, percentages and figures were used for illustration of data. At the same time, qualitative information was analyzed by grouping the collected information into themes and then it was described in prose using verbatim and narration. The aim was to corroborate the quantitative data.
Result: It was established that as much as there are deliberate efforts to enhance extension education services in Kaiti Sub county, there are still gaps in terms of accessibility of the field officers as well as the frequency of meetings between the farmers and the extension officers and this has had an impact of not being able to reach out many farmers. At the same time, it was also established that monitoring and evaluation of the disseminated information is still low and it needs to be enhanced in order to have a more sustainable effect. It is anticipated that the study will benefit not only policy makers, but also the farmers in Kaiti and other areas as well as the National and County governments.
Conclusion: The study concludes that there should be a diversification of communication strategies in order to increase coverage to many people in order to improve information uptake.
Recommendation: The study recommends that the county government employs more extension officers as well as remunerate them properly in order to improve their services.
Keywords: Agricultural Extension, Horticultural farming, Kaiti Sub County.
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