This study ascertained the socio-economic determinants of extension workers’ job performance in Abia State, Nigeria. Primary and secondary data were collected with a structured questionnaire; from 86 respondents, which included 56 Extension Agents, 14 Block Extension Agents, 14 Block Extension Supervisors and 2 Zonal Extension Officers; and analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistics. These include frequency counts, percentages, means, and regression analysis. A null hypothesis was tested at 5% level of significance. The result of the socio-economic characteristics of the respondents shows that majority 50%, 35.7% and 44.6% of BESs, BEAs and EAs fall within active economic and productive age bracket of 35- 44 years; while the ZEOs were between 45-54 years. Most of the ZEOs (100%), BESs (85.7%) and EAs (48.2%) were males; except BEAs who was mainly females (80%). Greater proportion such as 78.57%, 54.29% and 53.6% of BESs, BEAs and EAs were polytechnics and university graduates; who had worked between 5-9 years with percentage values of 57.14%, 64.3% and 83.93% respectively; except ZEOs who had higher years of working experience of 15-19 and 20-24 years respectively. From all criteria considered, a linear functional form was chosen as the lead equation; from where a high coefficient of multiple determinations (R2 ) of 63.7% which showed the magnitude of variation in the job performance of the extension workers due to their socio-economic characteristics. All the independent variables were positively signed; while marital status, education and working experience were statistically significant at various levels of 1%, 5% and 10% respectively. The null hypothesis tested was rejected. This means that the socio-economic characteristics of the field extension workers greatly influenced their job performance in the study area. It was recommended that more female extension workers should be employed to increase extension farmers’ ratio among the women farmers. Extension workers with a higher level of education and job experience should be employed and motivated through a better welfare package to enable them to remain in the job.
Agricultural development is hinged on extension services by helping farmers to identify and link with research on their production problems . They provide awareness on opportunities for improvement of farm yields leading to increased income and a better standard of living [2,3]. Long and Sworzel (2007) noted that the mission of extension services is to provide research-based information, educational programmes and technologies on farmers’ needs and enabling them to make informed decisions about their economic, social and cultural well-being. Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) are currently responsible for carrying out the bulk of agricultural extension delivery in Nigeria. They are designed to improve the agricultural productivity, income, and general well being of small-scale farmer, who is the centrepiece of all agricultural development efforts in Nigeria [4,5,6].Agricultural Development Programmes have adopted the training and visit (T&V) system of an extension though with modification over time. The T&V is also used and combined with unified agricultural extension system (UAES) where extension worker not withstanding their area of specialization are trained for necessary skills in all the enterprises, such as Agronomy, Livestock, Fisheries and Agro-forestry . The staff of the ADPs were essentially drawn from the ministry of agriculture and are used to apply the principle of concentration of efforts. They were improved upon as focal points for the improvement of the entire ministry staff, which took place under a unified extension programme The task of persuasion and spreading of knowledge and technology is usually that of an advisory service undertaken by extension agencies. They are the conduit pipes through which millions of individual producers are taught to improve the management of their own resources. The foundation upon which agricultural development is built are research for development and extension education. They are the essential ingredients for sustained growth in agriculture. There is no prospect for steady growth in agriculture without paying attention to them, especially when increases in productivity comes from technological changes leading to high yield rather than from extending hectarage under cultivation .
The success of agricultural extension work depends on the performance of extension workers saddled with this responsibility. Performance evaluation is a process of evaluating employees in carrying out given tasks in order to guide and develop the employee’s potential . It comprises both action (behavior) and outcome aspect . The behavioral aspect refers to what an individual does in the work situation. The outcome aspect refers to the consequences or result of individual behavior. Thus, performance is not defined by action but by judgmental and evaluative processes. Moreover, only actions which can be measured are considered performance . It is expected that the socio-economic characteristics of extension workers should influence their job performance. But, the extent to which this has happened in Abia State, Nigeria is yet to be known. Thus, this study was undertaken to scientifically investigate the extent to which socio-economic characteristics of extension workers can influence their job performance. In order to achieve this, answers were sought on the following research questions: What are the socio-economic characteristics of field extension workers in Abia State? What is the relationship between the extension workers socio-economic characteristics and their job performance?
Objectives of the study
The broad objective of this study was to ascertain the socio-economic determinants of Extension Workers Job Performance in the Abia State, Nigeria. Specifically, the objectives sought to:
i. describe the socio-economic characteristics of Extension Workers in the Abia State;
ii. determine the relationship between the socio-economic characteristics and Job Performance of Extension Workers in the Abia State.
Hypothesis H01: There is no significant relationship between the socio-economic characteristics and job performance of field extension workers in Abia State.
The research was carried out in the Abia State of Nigeria which lies between longitudes 70 001 and 80 101 E and latitudes 40 451 and 60 171 N in Eastern part of Nigeria. The climate is typically hot and warm all year round. The mean annual rainfall is between 20,000 mm to 25, 000 mm. Temperatures are constantly high with the annual daily maximium and minimium temperatures of around 310 C and 220 C respectively. Relative humidity is usually high and highest at the height of the rains and lowest during the harm attarn months of December to February. High ranges of between =80% to 87% at 10 am (Nigerian time) occur during the rainy season . The vegetation of the area is predominantly lowland rain forest. The major crops cultivated include yams, cassava, rice, maize, cocoyams, banana and vegetables. Abia has a population of 4, 222, 476 with three agricultural zones namely Aba, Ohafia and Umuahia . The population of this study comprised all the Agricultural Extension Workers in Abia State Agricultural Development Programme (ADP). A purposive sampling method was used to select two agricultural zones from the three zones in Abia State. Secondly, a simple random selection was used to select seven blocks from the list of blocks that make up each selected zone. Thirdly, four circles were randomly selected. Two ZEOs, 14 BESs, and 56 EAs were randomly selected for the study. Both primary and secondary data were used. Primary data were sourced directly from the extension workers through a well-structured questionnaire. Secondary data were collected from related literature such as agricultural journals and books. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were employed in data analysis. Descriptive statistics such as frequency counts, means and percentages were used to analyze objective 1; while objective 2 was analyzed using four functional forms of multiple regression analysis. The null hypothesis was tested at 5% level of significance.
The job performance index was obtained by aggregating the responses for each of the variables or parameters used to assess the job performance. Each response was assigned value ranging from 1-5. The grades that were obtained for all the responses were summed up and divided by total expected score (TES).
That was then multiplied by 100 to convert job performance index to percent.
Job Performance index (JPI) ? = TAS X 100 n
Total expected sum (TES) 1=1
Total Actual Sum (TAS)
n= Sample size
The regression models are specified thus:
Y=a +b1 X1 +b2 X2 +b3 X3 +b4 X4 +b5 X5 +b6 X6 +b7 X7 +e (Linear functional form)
Ln Y = a +b1 X1 +b2 X2 +b3 X3 +b4 X4 +b5 X5 +b6 X6 +b7 X7 +e (Exponential form)
Ln Y= a+lnb1 X1 +ln b2 X2 +ln b3 X3 +ln b4 X4 +ln b5 X5 +ln b6 X6 +ln b7 X7 +e
(Double-log functional form)
Y = a+lnb1 X1 +ln b2 X2 +ln b3 X3 +ln b4 X4 +ln b5 X5 +ln b6 X6 +ln b7 X7 +e (Semi-log form)
Y= Job Performance
b = Slope
X1 = Age (Years)
X2 = Sex (Male = 1, Female =2)
X3 = Marital Status (Single =o, Married =1)
X4 = Level of formal education (in years)
X5 = Extension experience (in years)
X6 = Workers Income (Naira)
X7 = Household size (number of persons in each household)
E = error term
Results and Discussion
Socio-economic Characteristics of Extension Workers in Abia State.
The result of the socio-economic of extension workers in Abia State is shown in Table 1. Result in Table 1 shows that the two sampled ZEOs in Abia State were in the age range of 45-54years. Half (50%) of BES sampled in Abia State were in the age range of 35-44 years; followed by 28.8% who were in the age range of 45-54years. Out of fourteen sampled BEAs in Abia State, 35% were in the age range of 25-34 years and 35.7% were in the age
Table1: Percentage Distribution of the Socio-economic Characteristics of Extension Workers in Abia State .
range of 35-44 years; followed by 28.6% who were between 45-54 years. Further analysis shows that out of 56 sampled EAs 44.6% were in the age range of 35-44 years and 30.4% were in the age range of 25-34 years. It could be inferred from the finding of this study that a greater proportion of the EAs, BEAs and BES were in their economically vibrant/ active ages between 24-44 years in Abia state, Nigeria. This conforms to previous studies that majority of EAs and BEAs in Abia State ADP were aged between 30-49 years [12, 13, 14]. The youths and middle ages dominate extension work in Nigeria [1,15].Furthermore, out of eighty-six respondents sampled in Abia State, a majority were males with a percentage of 100%, 85.7%, 20%, and 48.2% for ZEOs, BESs, BEAs and EAs respectively. The implication is that extension agents in the area were predominantly males. This agrees that extension work is male-dominated . The result of marital status depicts that in Abia State, 100% of ZEOs, 100% of BESs, 78.51% of BEAs, 82.14% of EAs were married. A married person has more responsibilities than a single person and this could affect his/her job performance [1,17].
The result shows that one ZEOs has a Bachelor in Agriculture Degree (B Agric); while the other had MSc degree. Also, 78.57% BES, 54.29% BEAs and 53.6% EAs had higher nation diploma certificate. This result shows that
Table 2: Multiple Regression Analysis on the Relationship between Job Performance and Socio-economic Characteristics of Extension Workers in Abia State 
extension workers in the study area are qualified for their job; which will aid the effective performance of their duties. Level of formal education was a strong predictor to job performance .
In Abia State, ZEOs had 15-19 years of experience in extension work; while other one had 20-24 years of experience. Majority 57.14% of BESs had 5-9 years of experience only, 21.43% had 10-14 years of experience in extension. The result also indicated that 64.3% of BEAs and 83.93% EAs had 5-9 years of experience. ZEOs had experience that ranged from 21-35 years. This shows that ZEOs were more experienced in extension work than other groups of respondents. This implies that the extension agents in the area had considerably worked for a long period of time to be able to know their job description. Higher officers put in more years than others in their work . Years of working experience is a very important factor affecting the performance of extension workers in the execution of their duties .
Relationship between Socio- economic Characteristics and Job Performance of Field Extension Workers in Abia State.
This was established using multiple regression analysis as shown in Table 2: Based on the appropriateness of signs, a number of significant variables and magnitude of R2 , (Coefficient of multiple determinations), the linear functional form was chosen as the lead equation and is discussed hereby. The result shows that 63.70% of the variation in the job performance of extension agent could be explained by the variables in the equations. Three variables (marital status, formal education, extension experience) were significantly related to job performance at 10%,1% and 5% levels respectively as shown in the lead equation. Marital status was positively related to the job performance of the extension workers with the value of 1.988 which was significant at 0.10% level of significance. This implies that the marital status of respondent increased or enhanced their job performance and vice versa. Most Extension Agents in Imo State were married and could be regarded as responsible people .
Level of education of extension workers was positively significant at 10% level of probability which implies that the higher the level of formal education received, the higher their job performance. Level of formal education was positively and significantly related with the job performance of extension workers . This implies that the higher the level of formal education received, the more they made a regular and timely visit to farmers and thus the higher their job performance. Level of education of women extension agents was positively related to their job performance . Extension experience was also positively significant at 5%, the implication is that the higher the extensive experience of the extension workers, the higher their job performance. The result is a relationship between the village extension agents’ years of experience and their job performance . There exist a positive relationship with the extension personnel years of experience in extension work and their job performance . The implication of this result is that the more the number of years put on a job, the higher the performance of workers. Other socioeconomic variables like age, sex, and household size were not significantly related to the worker’s job performance. The alternative hypothesis of a relationship between socio-economic characteristics and job performance of extension workers was therefore accepted.
Conclusion and Recommendations
This study had shown that the socio-economic variables such as marital status, education and working experience significantly influenced job performance of extension workers in Abia State. Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made.
• Extension workers should be encouraged by financial and non-financial motivations in Abia State to enable them to remain in the work and perform their duties effectively since increased years of experience in extension work was found to be positively related to the job performance of extension workers.
• Policies should be designed to employ those with a higher level of formal education for higher job performance in Abia state
• The recruitment of extension workers should be based on the relevance of their discipline in agriculture as well as their practical experience in agriculture as this will increase the performance of extension workers.
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