FARMERS’PERCEPTION OF THE GROWTH ENHANCEMENT SUPPORT (GES) SCHEME IN KOGI STATE, NIGERIA
The main objective of the study was to determine the farmers’ perception of Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme in Kogi State. A total 120 copies of the questionnaires were administered to the schemes’ participants purposively selected from 12 communities of six local government areas of the State. The local government areas are Lokoja, Kogi, Ajaokuta, Adavi, Bassa and Dekina. Data was collected on both demographic and farm characteristics of the respondents. Others areas include respondents’ perceived perception of the GES scheme effectiveness, knowledge level of respondents, level of satisfaction on the scheme activities, the constraints to effective implementation of the scheme and the strategies for effective implementation of the scheme. Data collected was presented using descriptive statistics, mean scores, standard deviation, factor analysis and multiple regression models. The result of the analysis revealed that majority (78.3%) of the respondent were male and married and the farmers mean age was 42.4years. The mean farming household size was 5persons with Christian and Muslim religion being mainly practiced. About 89.2% of the respondents took farming as their major profession with the mean farming experience as 18.6 years. Majority (85.8%) of the respondents belong to social or religion organisations and have access to agriculture-related information. The major crops grown in the area include maize, cassava and rice. The respondents had a very high knowledge of the schemes’ activities and the major source of information on the scheme activities was extension agents. On the farmers’ perception of the GES, a good number of respondents have positive perception on the schemes’ operational process and are equally satisfied with some implementation processes of the scheme. However, the major constraints to effective implementation of the scheme include untimely input provision, inability to pay for the mobile phones. Factor analysis also grouped these constraints into inputs, personnel and poverty-related constraints. The suggested strategies for effective implementation of the scheme include timely input provision and early registration of participants. The hypothesis shows that access to agriculture- related information (t=-2.340:p=0.05) had a significant relationship with rural farmers’ knowledge. It was recommended that early inputs provisions is to be ensured since farming operations are time bound, the farm inputs are to be further subsidised in such a way that everyone will be able to pay for the subsidized inputs. Other suggestions are the provision of mobile phones, creation of more redemption centres along with construction of feeder roads in order to facilitate the effective operations of the scheme. Lastly, early registration of participants, recruitment of more staff along with women encouragement for participation is to be ensured.