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Voice of farmers in the agriculture crisis in North-East Nigeria: Focus group insights from extension workers

Ferdinand Ndifor Che (School of IT and Computing, American University of Nigeria, Yola, Nigeria)
Kenneth David Strang (College of Management and Technology, Walden University, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA)
Narasimha Rao Vajjhala (School of IT and Computing, American University of Nigeria, Yola, Nigeria)

International Journal of Development Issues

ISSN: 1446-8956

Article publication date: 31 January 2020

Issue publication date: 31 March 2020




The purpose of this study is to uncover ground truth insights underlying the agriculture crisis from the perspectives of rural farmers in North-East Nigeria. The needs of individual farmers are otherwise not adequately reflected in national or regional economic development strategies.


A unique sequential mixed-methods research design was adopted for this study. A grounded theory approach was used for the literature review followed by a consensual qualitative research (CQR) technique. Data were collected through a semi-structured sense-making focus group (FG) held at a field site with agricultural extension workers. The CQR technique included brainstorming, the nominal group technique, open discussions, sense-making and consensual agreement on the most important ideas. The FG sense-making was recorded, and discourse analysis was conducted to develop thematic concept maps using NVivo software.


Agriculture crisis ground truth insight themes were consistent with the extant literature but several different issues were also found. Rural farmers in North-East Nigeria have significant challenges with government support in six core areas, namely, farm input quality and dissemination, fair input subsidization, training, market facilitation, corruption and insecurity.

Research limitations/implications

The target population of this study was rural farmers in Adamawa State, North-East Nigeria. A relatively small sample of 16 agricultural extension workers – very experienced farmers who also act as mentors and are paid incentives by the government for doing so – was used.

Practical implications

In tackling the agriculture crisis in Nigeria, policymakers will do well to recognize the realities that the rural farmers face and their needs, the government must address the areas highlighted in this study where support for farmers lacks and urgently review the current process of farm inputs dissemination.


Agriculture crisis problems were explored from the perspectives of rural North-East Nigerian farmers, who have not been previously sampled due to cultural, language, literacy and schedule constraints. The extension workers were better able to communicate agriculture crisis insights in modern economic planning terminology because they are well-educated farmers, knowledgeable about the problems due to their field experience and because they have more flexible work schedules. A unique sequential mixed-methods constructivist research design was used with an embedded CQR technique, which would be of interest to scholars and research institutions.



This study would not have been possible without the support of the Atiku Centre of American University of Nigeria, the Building Resilience through Sustainable Agriculture (BRSA) Project, which is funded by GIZ, and all the agricultural extension workers. The authors are grateful for their help during the fieldwork. The authors also acknowledge the peer reviewers for their constructive criticisms and insights.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors did not receive any funding and declare that there is no conflict of interest.


Che, F.N., Strang, K.D. and Vajjhala, N.R. (2020), "Voice of farmers in the agriculture crisis in North-East Nigeria: Focus group insights from extension workers", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 19 No. 1, pp. 43-61.



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