After reading this post, you should be able to answerthe following questions:

  • What isextension education?
  • List the mainfacets of agricultural extension.
  • How wasextension activities carried out during the pre-colonial era in Nigeria?
  • List six (6)government organized extension programmes in Nigeria.
  • Explain thehistory of agricultural extension in the world.
  • Discuss thevarious government organized extension programmes in Nigeria.

Agricultural Extension in the World

The term extensionwas derived from the practice of British universities of having one educationalprogramme within the premises of the university and another away from the universitybuildings. The programme conducted outside the university was described as ‘’extensioneducation’’. The expression connoted an extension of knowledge from theuniversity to places and people far beyond.

The term ‘’ExtensionEducation’’ was first introduced in1873 by Cambridge University in England to describe a particular systemdedicated to the dissemination of knowledge to rural people where they livedand worked. Within a short time, the idea had spread to other parts of Britain,Europe and North America.

Extension work is an out of school system of educationin which adults and young people learn by doing. It is a partnership betweenthe government, the land-grant institutions, and the people, which providesservices and education designed to meet the needs of the people (Kelsey andHearne, 1966).

The term ‘’AgriculturalExtension’’ was only adopted in 1914when the United States Federal Smith-Lever Act of 1914 formalized a nationwide cooperativefederal-state-county programme and gave operational responsibility for this tothe land grant colleges and Universities.

In the beginning, agricultural extension was concernedprimarily with the improvement of agriculture, using conventional teachingmethods. As time went on, home economics, youth programmes and rural communityresource development were included. Agricultural extension spread to tropicalAfrica, the Caribbean, Asia and Latin America following the involvement of theUnited States of America (USA) in bilateral AID programmes after the SecondWorld War.

Agriculturalextension now has three main facets:        

  1. As a disciplineit deals with the behaviour of people. It is educational in content andpurposive in approach. Whether the content consists of agriculture, medicine(preventive and social medicine), public health, education, engineering, etc,extension is always dependent on a firm knowledge and expertise in sociology,anthropology, psychology, administration, economics, communication arts, politicalscience and so on.
  2. As a process,agricultural extension seeks to influence the behavior of rural people througheducation and information exchange. The aim is to assist them in gaining alivelihood, improving the physical and psychological level of living of ruralfamilies, and fostering rural community welfare. The success of the extensionprocess requires an atmosphere of mutual trust, helpfulness and respect on thepart of both extension worker and rural people.
  3. As a service,agricultural extension makes the government ministry, the university orvoluntary agency as useful as possible to the people who support it throughtaxes and donations. The concept that the broader function of extension work isto help people to solve their own problems through the application ofscientific knowledge is now generally accepted.

Agricultural Extension in Nigeria

The history of agricultural extension in Nigeria isinterwoven with that

of agricultural development in general. This isbecause Agricultural

extension is concerned with all areas of agriculture.

The Pre-Colonial and Colonial Periods

During the pre-colonial era by the British, consciousefforts were made in selection, introduction and teaching of the practicesinvolved in producing good varieties of crops and breeds of animals. Farmers selectedthe best seeds for multiplication, from which the seedlings are beentransplanted to their farms. Similarly farmers introduced to their farmsimproved seeds and animals from their neighbouring communities and fromtrans-Saharan traders from neighbouring countries.

The farmers themselves experimented upon and projectedtheir production methodologies without the assistance of formally designatedextension agents.

Extension teaching was largely through apprenticeship.Families have taught succeeding generation crop production, animal husbandryand soil management through observation and participation by learners.

Neighbours and friends shared new knowledge ofimproved farm practices.

During the colonial era by the British, someagricultural development initiatives were undertaken with the purpose ofincreasing production.

The first step was to establish the Department ofBotanical Research in 1893 with its headquarters at Olokomeji in the formerwestern Nigeria (Williams, 1978). Its responsibilities included conductingresearch in both agriculture and forestry.

In 1905, the British Cotton Growers Associationacquired 10.35 square kilometres of land at the site now called MoorPlantation, Ibadan for growing cotton to feed the British textile mills. In1910, Moor Plantation, Ibadan became the headquarters of the Department ofAgriculture in Southern Nigeria, while the Department of Agriculture wasestablished in the North in 1912.

In 1921, a unified Department of Agriculture wasformed in Nigeria, after the amalgamation of the North and the South. The majorpolicy of the central Department of Agriculture was to increase production ofexport crops for the British market which was ready to absorb it for its industrialgrowth. Extension activities were therefore directed towards increasingefficiency in crop production and marketing.

Regulations were made to set and enforce standards inexport crop production.

The colonial government also established someagricultural development schemes to upgrade the skills of farmers and toproduce agricultural commodities.

The Kware irrigation scheme was established in 1926.It was situated 16miles or 25.74 kilometres north of Sokoto town. Its purposeswere to increase rice yields and provide experimental data on production undersevere drought during dry season and flooding during the rains.

The scheme started with 1000 acres or 405 hectares involving800 farmers with farms situated along the river banks. The irrigation schemeemployed the shadoof which is an ancient Egyptian technique, also used by theSudanese.

The scheme did not attain much of its objectivesbecause

  1. the irrigationscheme (shardoof) was inadequate on large farms;
  2. it is a slowtechnique of irrigation;
  3. it wasdifficult to collect cost of services from users; (d) in 1943, 1945 and 1954,river Rima over-flooded and washed away most of the rice crop; and
  4. use of manurewas not popular among the farmers.

The colonial period also witnessed the establishmentof the Niger Agricultural project in 1949 with the aims of producing groundnutas export and guinea-corn for local consumption. It was also to relieve worldfood shortage, demonstrate better farming techniques and increase productivityof Nigeria’s agriculture. The project was sited near Mokwa at an area which issuitable for mechanized food crop production.

The Post-Colonial Period

Post-colonial agricultural extension in Nigeria can becategorized into two groups:

  1. government-organizedagricultural programmes; and
  2. Extensionprogrammes organized and sponsored by private agencies.

The first group constitutes the more extensive of thetwo.

Government organised agricultural extension includethe National Accelerated Food Production Project (NAFPP) which was introducedin 1972, Agricultural Development Projects, ADP (1975), the AcceleratedDevelopment Area Project, ADAP(1982), and Multi-State Agricultural DevelopmentProjects, MSADP (1986).

Other programmes were the Operation Feed the NationProgramme, OFN (1976), the River Basin Development Authority, RBDA (1973), theGreen Revolution Programme, GRP (1980), the Directorate of Food, Roads andRural Infrastructure, DFRRI (1986), the National Directorate of Employment,

NDE (1986), the Nigeria Agricultural Insurance Scheme,NAIS (1987) and the National Fadama Development Project, NFDP (1992). In recentyears, the Poverty Alleviation Programme, PAP (2000), and National EconomicEmpowerment and Development Strategy, NEEDS (2004) were introduced.Specifically the National Special Programme for Food Security, NSPFS waslaunched in March 2003.

Some private agencies have embarked on agriculturalextension services largely towards a specific clientele system of their choice.Some of the agencies are: The Nigerian Tobacco Company, oil companies such as

Shell Petroleum Development Company, and religiousorganizations such as the Catholic and the Anglican churches. SomeNongovernmental organizations, NGO’s such as the Leventis Foundation alsooperate some extension services.

Many international organisations have been involved inagricultural extension, agricultural and rural developments in Nigeria fordecades. Notable among these are the World Bank, International Fund forAgricultural Development, IFAD, United States Agency for International Development,USAID, Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACPECCTA, andFood and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) of the United Nations.


This unit has introduced you to the meaning andhistory of agricultural extension both in the world and Nigeria. From thesediscussions you must have learnt the meaning of “Extension education” and

“Agricultural extension” as well as history ofagricultural extension in the world and in Nigeria.


The main points in this unit are:

  • The term ‘’Extensioneducation’’ was first introduced in 1873 by Cambridge University in England todescribe a particular system dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge torural people where they lived and worked .
  • The term‘’Agricultural extension’’ was only adopted in 1914 when the United StatesFederal Smith-Lever Act of 1914 formalized a nationwide cooperativefederal-state-county programme and gave operational responsibilities for thisto the land grant colleges and universities.
  • The discussionof the history of agricultural extension in Nigeria is treated briefly in thepre-colonial and colonial periods as well as in the current or post-colonialepoch.


Jibowo, A.A. (2005). History of Agricultural Extension in Nigeria. In:

S.F. Adedoyin (ed.) AgriculturalExtension in Nigeria.

Publication of AgriculturalExtension Society of Nigeria, pp1-12.

Kelsey L.D. and Hearne C.C. (1966). Cooperative Extension Work.

New York: Constock PublishingAssociates.

Obibuaku L.O. (1983). Agricultural Extension as astrategy for

Agricultural transformation. University of Nigeria Press,

Nsukka, Nigeria, 119pp.

Williams, S.K.T. (1978). Rural Development in Nigeria. Ile-Ife

:University ofIfe Press, Nigeria, 129pp.

Youdeowei A., Ezedinma F.O.C. and Onazi O.C (1986). Introduction to

Tropical Agriculture. Longman: China, 344pp.


                        National Open University (NOUN)

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