The greatest problem of developing countries, such as Nigeria is poverty. Although the country may have favourable balance of trade and huge foreign exchange reserve, the income per capita remains very low with many people living below the poverty line of one USD per day. Poverty has persisted in Nigeria especially, among rural dwellers, who are predominantly farmers because of neglect even though 70 per cent of Nigerians are rural dwellers. Hence, they constitute the neglected majority. Various government agricultural and rural development programmes and projects have been undertaken to boost food production and incomes of rural dwellers, and consequently their standard of living but with little results. The rural farmers still live in abject poverty without access to basic infrastructure. Poor yields are obtained from crops, and when good yields are obtained, spoilage due to lack of storage facilities tends to maintain the vicious cycle of poverty.
A lot of countries within the Sub-Saharan Africa region, including Nigeria, have many millions of people living on less than $370.00 USD a year (World Bank, 1990). Over the years, government has embarked on programmes and projects aimed at increasing food production as well as alleviating rural poverty and bringing about rural development. Some of these programmes and projects are still on-going, while many have gone into extinction. They include: National Accelerated Food Production Programme; Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure; Operation Feed the Nation; Green Revolution; School to Land Programme, National Accelerated Food Production Programme (NAFPP) ;Agricultural Development Programme; which was (sponsored by World Bank) River Basin Development Authority; Rural Banking Scheme; Better Life for Rural Women; Peoples Bank of Nigeria; Community Banking; National Agricultural Land Development Authority; Special Programmefor for Food Security.
Rural poverty and under development have persisted, apparently because it has been difficult for Nigeria to dismantle all structures which have tended to prevent rural dwellers from complete realization of their full potentials. The greatest impediment to rural development and alleviation of rural poverty appears to be poor access to production resources, poor or absence of infrastructure and poor/lack of entrepreneurial and technical skills.
Fadama project is a World Bank development programme in Nigeria, which collaborates with the Nigerian Government. The National Fadama Development Project is executed in phases – Fadama 1, 11 and 111 projects so far. The current Fadama 111 project is designed to increase the production efficiency of Fadama users (farmers, pastoralists, hunters, etc.), and consequently their incomes. The Fadama1 project, which was the first phase of the project focused on supplementary water supply for irrigation and other uses. According to Ingawa , the objectives of the Fadama1 project were:
construction of about 50,000 shallow tube wells in fadama land for small scale irrigation;
Ø simplifying drilling technology for shallow tube wells;
Ø construction of Fadama infrastructure such as roads, culverts, storage sheds, etc.;
Ø organization of Fadama farmers for irrigation management, cost recovery and easy management of credit, marketing products, etc.;
Ø carrying out aquifer studies;
Ø monitoring and upgrading of irrigation technologies; and
Ø completion of environmental assessment of future Fadama development activities.
The second phase of the project known as Fadama11 was initiated to address some of the pitfalls of Fadama1, which prevented the full realization of the potential benefits of agricultural production activities. The pitfalls included poor development of rural infrastructure, storage, processing and marketing activities, low investment in irrigation technology, poor organization of Fadama farmers as well as lack of adequate techniques for greater productivity in particular. Fadama1 and Fadama11 focused basically on provision of irrigation facilities for crop production although non-farmers were among Fadama resource users, such as pastoralists, hunters, vulnerable and marginalized groups.
The Fadama111 project is a follow-up to Fadama11. The area of study, Kwande Local Government Area is located in Benue State, which is one of the 19 states in country that did not participate in Fadama11 but are participating in Fadama111. Fadam111 is more like an agricultural diversification programme, which is a paradigm shift under the Fadama project. Its target beneficiaries are the private economic units/small holders, who earn their living directly or indirectly from exploitation of natural resources in a given area. It empowers Fadama communities with resources and needed technical training and support to properly manage and control their resources for their own benefit in particular and community development in general. The approach used in Fadama111 is Community Development Approach /Community Driven Approach (CDA), which is button-up as against top- bottom. Participating community associations are empowered to develop participatory and socially inclusive Local Development Plans (LDPs).
Under the Fadama project, participants collectively identify their development priorities and agree on their investment activities. Funding is by World Bank contributing 55.6%, Federal Government of Nigeria, 5.1%; State Governments, 17.1% and Local Governments 8.9%. The World bank has decided to extend its funding of Fadama Project in Nigeria. It has provided the sum of $200m US Dollars for Nigeria in August 2013 (World Bank, 2013). Agbarevo and Obinne (2010) observed that Community Development assumes that rural development would be better achieved by assisting people to identify, define and limit their problems and needs, and then plan and implement selected action to arrive at a solution. It takes the form of problem- solving approach by the community or group facilitated by government/NGOs. The model has the advantage of active participation of people in projects of which they are the beneficiaries. Previous government efforts aimed at reducing rural poverty and hunger were not very impressive. They largely used top-down approach in implementing programmes designed to increase food production, income and standard of living of rural people (Baldwin cited in Agbarevo, 2005). Fadama project on the other hand is demand-driven in which the beneficiaries or participants determine their priorities, analyze their problems, plan how to solve them, choose between alternative courses of action, and implement the chosen course of action with government officials acting as facilitators in a very participatory manner.
This paradigm shift, it is believed, would succeed where previous programmes have failed in increasing food production, rural income, and consequently reduce rural poverty. But the extent of success or otherwise of the project in increasing crop yield / food production is apparently not known in the study area, and this constitutes the problem of the study. The study, therefore, hypothesizes that there is no significant difference between the mean yields of the sample and population of the study.