Brief History of the Department
The programme in Agricultural Extension in the University of Nigeria was initiated at the instance of UNICEF in 1965, when the agency entered into an agreement with the University to support the programme for a period of five years. This was done because it was realised that the programmes of the Faculty of Agriculture were defective without a programme in Agricultural Extension. Agricultural development was conceptualised as a system held in place by three important links – agricultural education (which includes soil, crop and animal scientists as well as agricultural economists and extension experts), agricultural research and agricultural extension. The omission of agricultural extension in the Faculty programme was thought a serious one because research and other activities carried out in soil, crops and animals were useless unless their findings were made available to and accepted by farmers; hence, the need for a programme in agricultural extension.
At the inception of the programme in 1965, agricultural extension was organised as part of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension because of lack of teaching staff and other logistic support. In 1973/74, the curricular of the Department of Agricultural Economics and Extension were restructured to permit two degree options – Agricultural Economics and Agricultural Extension. In 1981, as a result of greater national awareness of the importance of agricultural extension, the University Senate created a separate Department of Agricultural Extension. The programme started in 1981; the trend in student enrolment at undergraduate and postgraduate levels as well as staff disposition has been in the upswing. The department had always had full accreditation from the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) since inception.
The founding fathers of the University of Nigeria believed that there was need to train Nigerian youths locally, and in sufficient numbers, for the formidable task of disseminating useful and practical information from the research base to the rural farm families’ for sustainability in food production. Agricultural Extension is based on the philosophy that rural people are intelligent, capable and desirous of receiving information and making use of it for their individual and community welfare. It is purely voluntary and democratic in its approach to people. It is truly anchored on the principle of working with rural farm families where they are, build on what they have, add to what they know and enabling them to develop themselves. The underlying philosophy of the programme therefore, is to high level Agriculture Extension manpower in agricultural production and rural life.
The objectives of the programme are to:
- produce graduates who can put into practice the skills and knowledge gained during practical year by engaging in farming enterprises after leaving school, and demonstrating that farming is a profitable venture thereby contributing meaningfully to industrial and national development;
- produce a set of new future farmers with technical, productive and entrepreneurship skills who can positively influence agricultural and rural development policies;
- conduct research and to provide a comprehensive and adequate programme of higher education for leaders in the field of agricultural extension and rural development;
- improve the quality of rural life of the people in the neighbouring communities through outreach programmes; and
- Create a favourable teaching – learning process that will facilitate a mastery of the concepts, principles, theories, positive attitude, aspiration and skills needed to effectively disseminate innovations (improved technologies, practices and systems) to rural farm-families.
The programme was designed to inculcate a good understanding of relevant branches of the natural and management sciences which form the basis of a co-ordinated sequence of applied courses offered in the penultimate and final years. An essential feature of the programme is that opportunities are provided for students to gain a broad training in the basic agricultural sciences in the first three years, and a full year’s practical training, during the fourth year of the programme, while the fifth or final year is the year of specialization. The requirements for the degree thus include the completion of the general studies programme of the University, required ancillary courses, necessary electives and the completion of specialized courses in Agricultural Extension. The duration of the course is five years for Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME) and four years for direct entry candidates