EVALUATION OF GOVERNMENT POVERTY REDUCTION PROGRAMME IN EBONYI STATE (A CASE STUDY OF AGRICULTURAL PROGRAMME)
1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the years, several agricultural programmes have been introduced to reduce abject poverty among rural dwellers, mostly farmers, in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Some of these programmes include: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Agricultural Development Programmes (ADP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), and National Economic Empowerment and Development (NEED),
The Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure (DIFRRI), National Orientation Agency (NOA), National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP), Green Revolution (GR), Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), etc. (World Bank, 1993, World Bank, 2012a,
World Bank, 2012b; World Bank, 1996; Hashmi and Sial 2007; IFAD 2013), but it seems that these efforts have yielded little or no impact on the rural population, as evident in the literature (Afolayan, 1997). Consequently, the rate of poverty in rural areas keeps increasing steadily (Diamond, 1999; Handley et al., 2009; Gate 2014).
Agriculture as the foundation of all economic sectors has the capacity to advance beyond its primary function of supplying food and fibre, to being the industrial and economic springboard from which a country’s development can take off.
As contended by Ogen (2003), a strong and efficient agricultural sector would enable a country to feed its growing population, generate employment, earn foreign exchange and provide raw materials for the secondary sectors of the economy. The agricultural history of Nigeria is intertwined with its political history.
The period of colonial administration in Nigeria (1861-1960) witnessed considerable emphasis on research and extension services, with the establishment of a botanical research station in Lagos by Sir Claude Mcdonald in 1893, and many other significant achievements of the period. The post-1960 was one of extensive planning and regional competition in agriculture as emphasis was placed on commodity exports.
Under regional independence, the agricultural history of Nigeria entered another phase of modification of traditional practices to enhance surplus food production. There was enormous collaboration between the government and the people, and the modernization of agricultural sector was an additional impetus that enhanced agricultural productivity.
Yet, in spite of all these seemingly contributions of agriculture to the economic development of Nigeria, particularly its contribution of about 45% to GDP and employment of about 90% of the rural population, it has not been able to eradicate poverty (UNDP, 2010).
Poverty is the denial of choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It is the lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to; not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living and not having access to credit.
It further denotes insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, household and communities. It also means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living on marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water and sanitation. Meanwhile, absolute poverty denotes a condition in which a person or group of persons are unable to satisfy their basic needs as elementary requirements for human survival.
In spite of Nigeria’s vast oil wealth as the sixth largest producer of petroleum in the world, the eight largest exporter and the 10th largest proven reserves in the world, the majority of Nigerians are poor with 71% of the population living on less than one dollar a day and 92% on less than two dollars a day (UNDP, 2007).
The 2007 United Nations Human Development Index (HDI) ranks Nigeria 158 out of 177 countries; this is a significant decrease in its human development rank of 151 in 2004. About 64% of household in Nigeria consider themselves to be poor while 32% of household say their economic situation had worsened over a period of one year.
Life expectancy has decreased from 47 years in 1990 to 44 years in 2005. Infant and under-five mortality rates are high. The study of economic history provides us with ample evidence that an agricultural revolution is a fundamental pre-condition for economic development (Eicher and Witt, 2010; Oluwasanmi, 2014; Jones and Woolf, 2013).
Notwithstanding that the above assertion is not disputable; the inability of the government to properly integrate agricultural development to meet the needs of industrialization is the bane of poverty eradication in Nigeria.
To be sure, successive Nigerian governments have implemented various agricultural programmes within the framework of eradicating poverty since independence; yet, the incidence of poverty has continued to rear its ugly head in the lives of majority of the population.
Some of these programmes include Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Green Revolution, Better Life for Rural Women, etc. What could be responsible? Is it that the policies and programmes were not designed to alleviate poverty? Or, did such policies and programmes fail at the level of implementation?
There is already plethora of scholarly works done to provide answers to these questions, particularly, as it relates to efforts of the government in poverty alleviation. In fact, scholars like Ogbuagu (2012), Obi et al (2008), among others, appear to be unanimous that in spite of all the poverty eradication policies and programmes that have been implemented since independence, no meaningful reduction has been achieved in the war against poverty.
The cause has been variously attributed to poor implementation, inconsistency on the part of successive governments, etc. Deriving from the above, the factors enumerated could either in isolation or in combination contribute to the inability of agricultural programmes to eradicate poverty,
yet, a more serious problem that has not been satisfactorily addressed by scholars is the non-inclusion of the people in decision-making concerning poverty alleviation programmes. As a result of the above, the research will seek to find the relationship between agricultural programmes and the growing incidence of poverty in Nigeria.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Today, poverty is widely addressed as a global problem. Poverty affects over four billion people. It is important to know that most of the poor people live in the developing worlds of Africa, Asia and Latin America (Gbosi, 2004). On the average, 45-50% of Sub-Saharan Africans live below the poverty line.
And in Nigeria about 60.9% of the population was living below the poverty line of one dollar (0.63 pounds) a day in 2010 prices (NBS, 2012). Having been mindful of the implications to the economy, the government needs to make concerted efforts in order to reduce poverty in the country.
Different poverty eradication programmes and project to cushion the effects of poverty have been initiated over the years. This was receiving with high hopes. Unfortunately poverty level seems to be unresponsive to these windfall of resources addressed for the fight.
In spite of this huge resources devoted to agricultural programs, deterioration in fiscal discipline, corruption and inconsistent policies which had undermined past efforts still makes poverty eradication in Nigeria a paradox.
The rate of unemployment has continued to rise and the poverty situation has exacerbated. This study is aimed at evaluating the effects of agricultural programs on poverty reduction in Ebonyi state.
1.3 AIMS OF THE STUDY
The major purpose of this study is to evaluate government poverty reduction programme in Ebonyi state using agricultural programs. Other general objectives of the study are:
- To assess the level of government’s commitment to poverty reduction
- To examine agricultural development programmes and its implications for poverty reduction in Ebonyi state.
- To examine the challenges in the implementation of these agricultural programmes.
- To examine the extent these agricultural development programmes have contributed to poverty reduction in the State.
- To examine the relationship between agricultural programmes and the growing incidence of poverty in the state.
- To proffer strategies on how to enhance poverty reduction programmes in Nigerian system of government.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- What is the level of government’s commitment to poverty reduction?
- What are agricultural development programmes and its implications for poverty reduction in Ebonyi state?
- What are the challenges in the implementation of these agricultural programmes?
- To what extent does these agricultural development programmes contributed to poverty reduction in the State?
- What is the relationship between agricultural programmes and the growing incidence of poverty in the state?
- What are the strategies on how to enhance poverty reduction programmes in Nigerian system of government?
1.5 RESEARCH HYPOTHESES
H0: Agricultural development programmes has no impact on poverty reduction in Ebonyi state
H1: Agricultural development programmes has a significant impact on poverty reduction in Ebonyi state
H0: There is no significant relationship between agricultural programmes and the growing incidence of poverty in the state.
H1: There is a significant relationship between agricultural programmes and the growing incidence of poverty in the state.
1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
Theoretically, the study is significant because it is going to fill the gap of knowledge and in literature which exists in the subject discourse. It focuses on poverty as a universal problem facing mankind with serious consequences.
The empirical aspect of the study is concerned with deprivation, prevalent hunger, diseases, dearth in insufficiency of cash in their concerted effort to find acceptable and lasting solution to poverty eradication in Nigeria. The study will serve as a reference to scholars, administrators and policy makers in a similar research in future on the subject matter; it will be a contribution to the existing literature on poverty.
1.7 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The study is based on the evaluation of government poverty reduction programme in Ebonyi state, a case study of agricultural programs
1.8 LIMITATION OF STUDY
Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Poverty: Poverty means a state in which an individual, a group, or population lacks essential elements of life within their societies. These include lack of basic survival items like food, clothing, shelter, and health care, or the financial means to obtain these. Poverty is usually a phenomenon of rural dwellers in Nigeria.
Poverty Alleviation: In the Nigerian context, we usually refer to efforts aimed at reducing the magnitude of “poverty” defined in terms of the proportion of the population living below the poverty line.
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