This research work is aimed at analyzing the impact of village square meeting on
agricultural development in Gakem, Bekwarra Local Government Area of Cross River State. The research method used was survey, and questionnaire the instrument. The researcher adopted the systematic random sampling technique to select a sample size of 200 which was used in the study. The findings gotten from the questionnaire shows that the people of Gakem, Bekwarra Local Government are exposed to agricultural messages passed through the village square meeting and that it was as a result of adherence to such messages that they advanced in agricultural practice. It is therefore recommended that the village square medium should advance in the dissemination of agricultural messages in Gakem.
1.1 Background of the Study
The village square meeting is one o f the mediums of traditional media of communication in the rural communities. It channels a lot of information on day to day activities which takes place in the rural communities. Village square meeting takes place in the village square, where a lot of issues that affects the community are being discussed. Such information includes; Agricultural innovation programmes, burial ceremony or burial arrangement, coronation, naming ceremony, market days and product available for sales, visit of a prominent member of the community such as; a member representing the community in the state and Federal housing, local government chairman, party aspirant and party manifestos to mention a few. For the purpose of this study, Agricultural innovation or development programmes as affected by the village square meeting as a medium of traditional media will be the focus.
The village square meeting is one of the mediums of traditional communication that helps to service the society or the rural communities through proper information that help the community in their daily interactions.
Ever before the emergence of modern mass media, viz, print and broadcast and their introduction to Africa, people in African societies or communities did not live in isolation from one another, there exist many other mediums and channels viz the family, market place, town crier, visits, religious association, gun shot, bush burning, dance display etc. which makes it easier for people to interact and exchange opinions, ideas thoughts and feelings in their local communities. Acknowledging this facts, Ebeze (2002), write that “before the introduction of modern mass media in Africa, there exist other channels of communication that enable people in ancient African communities to interact and maintain a stable system of living. These channels as mentioned earlier has helped in shaping African communities, the channels are used as a medium for inculcating the norms and values of the community social mobilization, political mobilization, economic mobilization, cultural mobilization, and the transfer of cultural heritage from generation to generation or from old members of the community to new comers. All these information carried by the mediums which the village square is one, has helped in rapid development of rural communities in Africa.
The village square meeting for instance brings people from different kindred, clans, sub-communities, families and dynasty together in the village square to discuss pressing issues.
Meeting days are communicated to the members of the communities through various medium such as the town crier, gunshot, family, dance, bush burning, market place, visits, religious association and youth association.
According to Eluwa (2010) “The village square is a special square, set aside for communal meetings and activities”. People converge here to discuss topical issues and events that affect their lives. Here important messages are passed to the members of the community.
Messages being passed in the village square include; agricultural innovation messages, which will be critically looked into in this study to be able to ascertain how effective is the village square meeting in disseminating agricultural development programmers in the rural communities.
Agriculture is said to be the art and science of crop and animal production. Development to an economist is all about economic change that realistically enhances people’s earnings in addition to raising their living standards via large scale of production of goods and services.
In the perspective of the philosopher’s development is conceptualized as the attainment of a meaningful degree of mental alertness and the sophistication of human faculties to the level the individual can not only reason well but also, adopt a logical approach to issues arising from human society.
Agricultural development is therefore, all about agricultural change that realistically enhances the ruralites earnings in addition to raising their living standard via large scale production of crops and animals. It is also the attainment of meaningful degree of mental alertness, and the sophistication of human faculties to
the level that the individual in the society or rural community cannot only reason well but adopt a logical approach to agricultural problems or issues arising in the rural community.
Agricultural development as been affected positively by the village square meeting will be properly looked into in this study.
1.2 Statement of the Research Problem
Agriculture has from time immemorial remained the major sources of income and revenue generation in the rural area. The production of crops such as yam, cassava, beans, rice vegetable, tree crops like cocoa, banana, plantain palm produce, rubber etc. and animal such as; cattle’s, goats domestic fowls, Snails, fish, Agric fowls, duck, turkey, guinea fowl, pigs to mention a few, has remain the base for economic advancement in the rural communities in Nigeria. In spits the enormous contributions of various media both traditional (old media) and the mass media (new media) of communication, viz the village square as a medium of traditional media, some rural communities are still lagging behind in agricultural advancement. Though, a lot of agricultural innovation programmes have been initiated by the federal, state, and local government, poor planting methods, poor method of pesticide, herbicide application etc. have been constraint to agricultural development in the rural area.
This research work strives to investigates if the village square meeting as a medium of traditional communication has really contributed in mobilization and
sensitization of the ruralites on agricultural innovations, if not, it will be of important to suggest a vibrant medium that will be more effective for agricultural development in the rural area since it is statistically proven that about 75% of Nigerians reside in the rural area and often rely on agricultural productivity to be able to contribute to national development.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are;
(1) To determine the role of village square meetings in promoting effective agricultural development in the rural area.
(2) To find out how people react to agricultural messages received in the village square meetings.
(3) To determine the influence of agricultural messages passed in the village square meetings on the attitude of farmers in Gakem, Bekwarra L.G.A.
1.4 Research Questions
The research questions are as follows:
(1) To what extent has village square meeting helped in enhancing agricultural development in Gakem?
(2) How has the people of Gakem reacted to agricultural development messages passed to them through village square meeting?
(3) How has the agricultural development messages disseminated in the village square influenced your farming attitude?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
The research hypotheses include;
H1: Village square meeting has helped in enhancing agricultural development in Gakem.
H2: Agricultural messages passed in the village square meeting influenced the attitude of the farmers in Gakem?
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is based on effective use of village square meeting for agricultural development in rural area. The method and techniques of disseminating information in the rural area using the village square meeting, remains the base of this study.
The study covers Gakem community of Bekwarra North L. G.A in Cross River State.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This study will be relevant to national and rural agricultural development agencies such as the National Agricultural Development Agencies (NADA) at the national level, and State Agricultural Development Agencies (SADA) at the state level. The study will also help environmental activist, bankers, educators, economist, politicians, teachers, media practitioners etc. to be able to ascertain and evaluate the
strength and weakness of the traditional media and to device the best means or channels of disseminating information in the rural area, since findings from these study will reveal new trends on the impact of village square meeting in the rural area.
The study will also contribute immensely to all academic fields whose activities are affiliated with the rural communities. The study will help government, NGOs and other bodies who are interested in agricultural development in the rural area to identify the village square meeting as an important medium of packaging agricultural development programmes, that will lead to high agricultural productivity and rural development.
The study will to a very large extent be of benefit to future researchers who wish to carryout study in this area, since this study when completed is subject to replication as criteria in research.
Findings from this study will also help the Government (Federal state and local government) to device a means of enhancing agricultural innovation programmes through the village square meeting and other viable mediums of traditional media.
1.8 Definition of Terms
The following terms in this study where operationally defined thus;
(2) Village square meeting
(3) Agricultural Development
(4) Rural Development.
Impact: Impact in this study has to do with how village square meeting has contributed to agricultural development.
Village Square Meeting: Village square meeting in this study is a gathering of the rural dwellers which gives them the opportunity to discuss issues affecting them.
Agricultural Development: It is an improvement in the method or style of agricultural practice to enhance high productivity.
Rural Development: This has to do with the positive transformation that enhances the living standard of the ruralites.