The study appraises the Electronic Wallet communication platform under the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS). The revolution in the media has greatly altered communication in all spheres of life including agriculture. The integration of the ICTs to some extent has brought possible solutions to developing countries especially in their utilization for agriculture. Though, for more than two decades, Nigeria‟s agriculture has been plunged into several reformation crises which have demanded the use of different communication strategies with little or no results in some cases. All these brought about the recent deployment of the e-wallet as part of the schemes by the Federal Government to reform the agricultural sector since 2011. It is therefore imperative to assess the new communication strategy as it has been operated under the reformation which is the focus of this study. In this study, 80 (40 from each village) farmers were administered questionnaire to in Nassarawan Buhari and Nwogi communities. They are registered farmers who have participated in the e-wallet scheme since its inauguration. The adopted villages were selected because they were part of the communities where the registration of farmers under the scheme commenced earlier in the North Central and North West agro-ecological Zones of Nigeria. So far, the study appraised e-wallet‟s effectiveness, usability and acceptability among farmers in the selected villages. The Diffusion and Innovation Theory and the Participatory Communication Theory underpinned the study in order to generate solid argument for effective communication approaches. For data analysis, this study used tables and simple descriptive statistical tools. The study discovered that farmers are aware of the e-wallet scheme through many sources especially the radio as the highest source. The study revealed that the e-wallet is an effective scheme that has helped drive Agricultural Transformation Agenda. Meanwhile, there were challenges of interconnectivity and network failure as experienced by the farmers in this study. Though the scheme is acceptable by farmers, but the process has not been really participatory. Thus, there is a need for the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to build improved e-wallet system that will enable the farmers interact very well and strengthen their involvement in the sustainable development of the system beyond the present regime. Also, the e-wallet scheme communication approach should be deployed in other value chains of the Agricultural Transformation Agenda (in order to take care of farm-to-market) process in order to help farmers get responsive and viable market prices and sales. More so, the Federal Government should consolidate the success of the scheme by establishing a National Helpline Center that will accommodate complaints, and allow farmers to contribute to the policy making and development of the sectors through enriched information from in-depth mobile phone communication system. The platform should be fortified with error detector mechanism in order to put a stop to false alert and inconsistency in redemption information as witnessed by some farmers in this study.
1.0 Background to the Study
In the last century, a revolution in the media has greatly altered communication in all spheres of life including agricultureby providing platform for long distance communication. These information and communication technological advances are believed to have revolutionized the processes of one-to-one, one-to-many, many-to-one, many-to-many, and also for synchronicity of messages, thus, enhancing the range, efficiency and effectiveness of information delivery via electronic signals (Gateway, 2010). This advancement has helped in the projecting of development through the Internet all over the world (e-Marketer, 2013).
For more than two decades, Nigeria has been plunged into food crisis which has seriously affected the well-being of the large sections of its population, as well weakened the cohesiveness of the nation by increasing social and political tensions. The continued social challenges emanating from such economic crisis has always been tackled with „reactive‟ policy initiatives aimed at ameliorating the crises rather than eradicating them. Nigeria is presently undergoing reformation processes with profound implications for all sectors of the economy as the country attempts to set out plans for sustainable development