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GOVERNMENT AGRICULTURAL PROJECTS AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN SELECTED LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS IN RIVERS STATE
This paper examined contributions of government agricultural projects to rural development in selected Local Government Areas in Rivers State. Specifically, the contributions of Risonpalm Estate (now SIART NIG. LTD), School-to-Land Programme and Songhai Farm to rural employment, farm output, and rural farmers’ income in rural areas in Rivers State were explored. A cross-sectional research design, using survey method was followed and combinations of descriptive and inferential statistics formed the basis for the analysis of the responses generated using a well-structured questionnaire. The findings revealed that government agricultural projects/supports to farmers have helped to create more jobs in the host communities thereby contributing to the development of the host communities and the state at large. Similarly, it was found that government supports to farmers and the employment of people in government-owned farms in Rivers State have improved the productivity of farmers and employees thereby contributing to the development of the host communities and the state at large. The results further indicate that government agricultural projects/supports to farmers have helped to improve the income level of farmers and employees in the host communities where the projects are located thereby contributing to the development of the host communities. Based on these findings, the study concluded that government sponsored agricultural activities/projects have contributed to the development of the rural communities in Rivers State. Thus, the paper recommends among others that government should increase support to farmers and funding to the farms to improve productivity and output of both farmers and employees of the farms.
Key words: Rural Development, Agricultural projects, Income, employment and output.