The Role of Communication in Disseminating the United Nations Sustainable
Development Goals in the Nigerian Agricultural System
Department of Mass Communication, Caleb University, Imota, Ikorodu, Lagos, Nigeria
- *Corresponding Author:
- Ayobolu YO
Department of Mass Communication
Caleb University, Imota
Ikorodu, Lagos, Nigeria
Received date: March 20, 2019; Accepted date: April 02, 2019; Published date: April 09, 2019
Citation: Ayobolu YO. The Role of Communication in Disseminating the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in the Nigerian Agricultural
System. Global Media Journal 2019, 17:32.
Copyright: © 2019 Ayobolu YO. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which
permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Visit for more related articles at
Global Media Journal
This paper explores the important role that communication plays in the dissemination of the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDG’s) in the Agricultural Systems in Nigeria. The aim is to show that the inclusion of communication in its various forms and usage will boost and promote the proper dissemination and actualization of the sustainable development goals and its sub-themes. This has been done through a holistic discussion on the process, elements, forms, and proper use of communication and that of the information communication technologies (ICT’s) as vehicles. Feedback from information dissemination to various audiences and players within the agricultural system in Nigeria as well as the barriers and challenges that arise from this communication process were also examined. This study is anchored on the diffusion of innovation theory and adopted a quantitative approach. A sample size of two hundred and forty respondents within the Agricultural systems in Oyo and Ogun States in South-West Nigeria were purposively selected for a workshop on the United Nations SDG’s through multi-stage sampling. This paper concludes that communication is greatly required in the successful dissemination of the sustainable development goals in Nigeria’s Agricultural systems.
Communication; Sustainable development
goals; Agricultural systems
Agriculture is fundamentally important to human existence,
not only in terms of food production for human consumption,
but also as means of livelihood for majority of the world’s rural
dwellers . The agricultural system in Nigeria is buoyant and
receives quite phenomenal research and scientific attention
stimulating growth and development. To sustain these,
communication in all its form and sense is and remains an
integral part as farmers need a mix of information resources for
accurate and actionable agro-production activities to maximize
farm productivity and earnings . In 2015, the Millenium Development Goals (MDG’s) came to an end paving way for the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s); these are a collection of
seventeen global goals set by the United Nations (Figure 1) .
Figure 1: Sustainable Development Goals.
These goals though inter-related, each has its own target to
achieve which covers a broad range of social and economic
range of developmental issues. They are to end poverty, fight
inequality and injustice and also tackle climate change by 2030.
In order to achieve this in the Nigerian agricultural system,
extension service delivery is very important. Agricultural
extension is an educational process that brings about desirable
changes among people, it involves learning through information
disseminating with some tools or methods commonly known as
extension teaching methods . It is a sector saddled with the
responsibility to inform and teach the various stakeholders in
the Agricultural systems as well as also serving as the link
between innovators and the end users.
As stated earlier, the SDG’s has about seventeen targets
addressing issues relating to every sector of life including
agriculture. The stakeholders within this sector need
information such as the SDG’s which would lead to synergies and
co-operation between stakeholders and extension agents,
resulting in strengthened organizations and self-help groups. It is
therefore pertinent to investigate the various roles that
communication can play in appropriately disseminating the
United Nations SDG’s through the following research questions:
• To investigate the level of awareness of the United Nations
• To examine the level of understanding of the SDG themes?
• To investigate which media and language would be most
preferred for disseminating the SDG’s?
Agricultural system is a collection of several components
united by some forms of interaction and interdependence that
operates within a prescribed boundary to achieve a specified
agricultural objective on behalf of the beneficiaries of the
system (FAO, n.d,). Also, Caldwell  describes it as a web of
relationships between farmers, natural systems involving
climate, geology, soil, air, pests, water and human systems which
includes politics, land use planning and infrastructure, law,
finances and marketing. These systems and relationships within
and between them inform the production of food, agricultural
goods and other commodities. These components as seen in Figure 2 are identifiable within the seventeen goals of the SDG’s
as seen in Figure 1.
Figure 2: Agricultural System (Caldwell, 2015).
Pertinent to the agricultural system are farmers (either crop
or livestock) and other key players (marketers, government,
associations, and so on) within the system. These individuals
who are targets of the sustainable development goals would be
better equipped with its knowledge through communication as
these goals are expected to be action-oriented, concise, easy to
communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature
and universally applicable to all countries while taking into
account different national capacities and levels of development
and respecting national policies and priorities .
The word “communication” derives from the Latin verbs
“communicare” and “common” which means “to share” or “to
make common”; it is the sharing of information, the giving and
receiving of messages, as well as the transfer of information
from one or more people to one or more people . It is also
described by Keyton  as the process of transmitting
information and common understanding from one person to
another. These definitions underscore the fact that unless a
common understanding results from the exchange of
information, there is no communication. These therefore implies
that to achieve the sustainable development goals in the
agricultural system, there should be the sharing of the SDG’s
information to make it common among the key players within
the agricultural system for their common understanding. In
order to achieve this properly, it is important to describe the
communication process (Figure 3).
Figure 9: The Communication Process .
Keyton  while describing the communication process states
that the sender encodes the idea by selecting words, symbols, or
gestures with which to compose a message; the message is the
outcome of the encoding, which takes the form of verbal,
nonverbal, or written language. The message is sent through a
medium or channel, which is the carrier of the communication.
The medium can be a face-to-face conversation, telephone call,
e-mail, or written report. The receiver decodes the received
message into meaningful information. . Noise is anything that
distorts the message. Different perceptions of the message,
language barriers, interruptions, emotions, and attitudes are
examples of noise.
Finally, feedback occurs when the receiver responds to the
sender's message and returns the message to the sender.
Feedback allows the sender to determine whether the message
has been received and understood. Santucci  pointed out
the major forms of communication. These are verbal and nonverbal
communications. Verbal communication occurs whenever
words are used; it is the most important form of human
communication and is the foundation of the human societies.
Non-verbal communication entails the use of symbols, gestures,
signs and pictures.
In the Nigeria agricultural system, professionals in the field of
agriculture such as extension agents are those principally with
the expertise to disseminate any kind of beneficial agricultural
information. Abdusalam-Sagir, Ashimolowo, and Lawal-Adebowale (n.d) posited that agricultural extension agents are
government officials employed chiefly to advice farmers on
farming and marketing techniques. They can also be described
as advisors employed by the government to assist rural dwellers
with methods of farming and home economics. In this context,
the information about the SDG’s are processed, packaged, and
generated in the best forms for education and learning for
farmers and other stakeholders.
This information is the stimulus as well as the message which
must have been encoded by selecting and using the appropriate
words, symbols and gestures that would convey the appropriate
and definitive meaning for better understanding. Language, both
verbal and non-verbal, is thus employed to encode the message
that is intended to be communicated. It is imperative that the
encoding be done in a language that conveys or for that matter
Channel is the means through which the encoded message
travels or gets transmitted. This could be through mediums such
as face to face trainings such as workshops, seminars, and
conferences with the aid of audio-visual extension training tools
such as video documentaries, charts, posters, drama and so on.
For instance, a study carried out by Ayobolu  indicates that
video documentaries are effective audio-visual instructional
training tool that enhance learning. Other channels of conveying
the message include sending of e-mails, phone conversations,
online chats, video conferencing and so on. The sending and
feed-back channels may not necessarily be the same, but the
type of message to be disseminated is important when choosing
the most appropriate channel for communicating effectively.
Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) are important
vehicles of information dissemination in recent times. These
technologies facilitate the creation, processing and transfer of
information across space and time. It is any device, tool, or
application that permits the exchange or collection of data
through interaction or transmission. They enable performing
tasks quickly, efficiently and comprehensively, and also facilitate
the flow of large volumes of information to a wide audience
across numerous geographical locations .
ICT is an umbrella term that includes anything ranging from
gadgets like radio to satellite imagery to mobile phones, tablets,
laptops, etc. It also includes various online platforms like Twitter,
Facebook, Instragram, WhatsApp, and others for information
dissemination, interactions and feedback that transcend time
and space irrespective of geographical locations. Information
about the SDG’S was shared via these various ICT platforms
when they were finally decided on in September 2015; this gave
a wide and platform for the goals to reach as many people as
possible. It created a forum for further discussions and
contributions about the goals and its targets.
In developing countries, the use of ICT in disseminating
sustainable development goals to stakeholder is receiving very
fast response. In Nigeria today, the concept of ICT has been felt
through its application in every segment of our natural life,
especially through the mobile phone, radio, television, internet,
video, camera and computers. ICT has played and is playing a
tremendous role in facilitating and promoting the collaboration between agricultural researchers, farmers, extension agents and
other stakeholders. For instance, the use of digital camera and
mobile phone with video capabilities has gain popularity
because an individual can best retain 20 percent of what he or
she hears in any learning activity or in any teaching and learning
session. The use of radio is the most popular among ICT tools
because of its special interest and focus in broadcasting to
audience in their local language.
The significant impact of ICT in disseminating sustainable
development goals depends on information exchange between
and among a broad range of stakeholders in agricultural system
because they can relate directly with one another through the
use of ICT tools. Some of the potential application of ICT’s in
disseminating sustainable development goals to stakeholders in
Nigeria agricultural system must follow the steps below:
• ICT has the capacity to reach a large audience, for instance
the use of radio, TV and Internet. These three channels are
suitable for Nigeria situation where there are poor roads for
communication. They can get information across to every
nook and corner of the rural areas where it is very difficult to
make direct contact.
• ICT can be effectively used for audio-visual trainings and
demonstrations through television, video compact disc
players (VCD) and CD-ROM. Video documentary can be used
to inform stakeholders such as farmers of a new innovation
and things or operation that needs immediate attention.
• ICT can be used for the search and packaging of information
on demand and for exploring of alternative production
options and technologies for instance the use of search
engines, the web and data base.
• ICT tool such as GSM (Global System for Mobile
Communication) can be used for normal weather forecasts
and as a warning system for disease/pests outbreaks and
other disasters before they occur and also for the provision
of timely and sensitive market information.
• ICTs are important for networking among and between the
key stakeholders such as members of Research Extension
Farmers Inputs Linkage System (REFILS) with the use of
Telephone, Video and SMS (short message service).
• ICTs can also be effectively used for community mobilization,
learning and action for instance Radio, TV, public address
systems and the Web.
According to Eisenberg  communication channel is a
complex, give-and-take process and because of this nature some
barriers associated to communication channel includes; process
barriers, physical barriers, semantic barriers, and psychosocial
Processing barriers are known to arise from the sender,
means of encoding, medium of communication, means of
decoding, receiver and feedback as a result of misinterpretation,
emotional discharge or fear of criticism.
Physical barriers occur as a result of interference or
distraction with the means of communication channels.
Semantic barriers occur due to the use and interpretation of
words. Technology plays a part in this aspect of communication
Psychological barriers are as a result of people's backgrounds,
perceptions, values, biases, needs, and expectation can also
pose serious barriers to the SDG message.
Limitation in the Use of Communication
Inadequate infrastructural facilities: Most developing
countries have very poorly developed communication tools such
as poor and limited number of telephone lines, most of which
are still in the analogue mode.
• Low computer literacy among stakeholders: Most
stakeholders lack competence and confidence in handling
and operation modern communication tools.
• Low deployment of communication gadgets among
stakeholders as a result of low level capacities of gateways
and portals to international networks/satellite systems.
• Lack of skills associated with the use of new techniques by
rural communities and stakeholders in agricultural system.
• Illiteracy among stakeholders and low level of education:
Most stakeholders are not educated and as such are not
aware of the benefits associated to sustainable development
• Lack of training and skill development: stakeholders should
undergo training in order to appreciate the benefit
associated to sustainable development goals.
• High charges for radio/television presentation.
• Erratic and unstable power supply and high cost of
alternative power through standby generators.
Limited and very high cost of telephone services either by
land lines or GSM. It has been estimated that Nigeria has the
highest GSM call rates in all developing countries that have the
The Diffusion of Innovation Theory
The concept of diffusion was first studied by the French
sociologist Gabriel Tarde in late 19th century and by German and
Austrian anthropologists and geographers such as Friedrich
Ratzel and Leo Frobenius. The study of diffusion of innovations
started in the sub-field of rural sociology in the mid-western
United States in the 1920s and 30s. Agricultural technology was
advancing rapidly, and researchers started to examine how
independent farmers were adopting hybrid seeds, equipment,
The diffusion of innovation theory popularized by Everett
Rogers in the 60s was one that seeks to explain how, why, and at
what rate new ideas and technology spread. He argues that
diffusion is the process by which an innovation is communicated
over time among the participants in a social system . He
further proposes that four main elements that influence the
spread of a new idea are; the innovation itself, communication
channels, time, and a social system. The categories of adopters are innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and
laggards. There are five stages in the adoption process as stated
by Rogers, these are discussed in details as follows:
Awareness, or knowledge of an innovation, is the first stage of
the adoption process. From a strategic point of view, for an
innovation to be known extensively, there is need for proper
communication channels through which such knowledge
intensive technologies can be communicated to the target
Here individual perception towards the innovation is key; if
the individual has not developed interest in the technology it
will be very difficult for such an innovation to be adopted.
This may consist of thinking hypothetically about what would
happen if the innovation were applied to their situation. It also
often entails seeking the opinions of one`s peers for better
understanding to make informed decisions.
The attitude formation stage eventually leads to an initial
decision about whether to adopt, or at least try the innovation.
Most individuals do not adopt an innovation without first trying
it on a limited basis.
This stage is when the innovation is actually put into use.
Sometimes a given innovation may go through a substantial
evolution and divergence as it is implemented in different
contexts. It is even thought that a high degree of such reinvention
leads to faster adoption and greater sustainability of
the innovation, because it indicated a high degree of flexibility
for the innovation to be adapted to different circumstances.
At this stage, empirical evidence is accumulated that
reinforces or counters the decision to implement an innovation.
A decision to discontinue use of an innovation after initially
deciding to implement it is not uncommon.
In relation to this study, the diffusion of innovation theory
explains the theoretical process of the SDG’s. The players within
the Agricultural systems in Nigeria would first have to be
exposed to the information through the various available media
both traditional (Newspapers, Television, Radio, Adverts, etc.)
and modern (digital media and the internet) thereby creating
awareness. This information would then be processed in form of
the other immediate stages of the innovation theory of interest
and understanding, attitude formation leading to the initial
decision on accepting and adopting the contents of the information. This then lead to the implementation and
This study is a quantitative study designed in form of a oneday
workshop with the same title as this study on the SDG’s. The
selected respondents were invited to participate in the
workshop which began with a pre-test to determine their
residual knowledge of the SDG’s. They were thereafter exposed
to knowledge and information about the SDG’s and the roles
that communication would play in disseminating it. After
concluding the workshop, questionnaires were administered to
collect data from the respondents while the Statistical Product
and Service Solutions version (SPSS) was used to analyse data for
comparisons and results. The population for this study was
made up of registered stakeholders in the Agricultural systems in
both Oyo and Ogun States, south-west, Nigeria. Two hundred
and forty respondents were selected using the multi-stage
sampling technique. The sample size was calculated bearing in
mind the type 1 and type II error which might occur in the study,
and these are automatically 1.96 and 0.84 respectively. The
variance of proportion (p) which was 50% was also considered in
calculating the actual sample size for this study. In order to
validate the research instrument, face validity and content
validity were used to verify and correct the questionnaire items.
The questionnaire items were given to scholars to examine and
make corrections. Descriptive statistics such as percentages and
frequencies were used to describe the results.
Socio-economic characteristics of respondents
Table 1 shows the socio-economic characteristics of
stakeholders in the agricultural system in both Ogun and Oyo
states, South-West Nigeria. Majority of the respondents are
male (67.5%), while 32.5% were female. This suggests there
were more male than female among the stakeholders in the
agricultural system. This is related to the findings of an earlier
study that men are mainly involved in in pre-planting and
planting stages of crop production and not post-planting
activities carried out mostly by women. The age distribution of
the respondents shows that that 26.7 percent of them were
between forty-one to fifty years, while 22.1 percent were less
than forty years. Respondents within the greatest proportion
amongst the respondents are between forty-one to fifty years;
also, 79.6 percent are married. As regards the level of education
of the respondents, 33.8 percent of the stakeholders had
secondary education in the two states, while 28.3 percent had
primary education. 25.8 percent had no formal education at all
while a percentage of 12.1 had tertiary education. This shows
that a greater percentage of the stakeholders have some form of
basic education. This is related to Rogers (2003) who stated that
having some form of basic education and literacy would
influence adoption of an innovation. Majority of the
respondents are farmers (41.8%), while 25% of them are in
Agribusiness, the other respondents who are also stakeholders
in the agricultural system were 8.3% respectively. Also, a higher percentage of 74.2 of the respondents from the two states earn
within ten and a hundred thousand as their income per annum,
while ten percent of the respondents earn within a hundred and
one to two hundred thousand (Table 1).
Table 1: Socio-economic Characteristics of Respondents (n=240) (Field Survey 2017).
|| Percentage %
| Education Level
|Farmers (Crops and Livestock)
|Agribusiness (Marketers, Processors, Retailers, etc.)
Table 2 shows the results of findings from the respondents as
regards their previous knowledge of the sustainable
development goals. About 50.4% of the respondents were not
aware of the SDG’s while 49.6% of them knew. Also, majority of
the stakeholders had no previous knowledge nor understanding
of the themes of the SDG’s (64.9%), while 65.0% of them do not
agree with the themes since they had no previous knowledge.
Table 2: Test for Previous Knowledge on SDG’s (n=240) (Field Survey 2017).
|Previous Knowledge of SDG’s
|Are you aware of the United Nations sustainable development goals (SGD’s)?
|Do you know the various themes in the provision of the SDG’s?
|Do you understand the themes provided in the SDG’s?
|Do you agree with the themes provided?
Table 3 shows the results for acceptable communication
vehicles for the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) after the
workshop and training. Majority of the respondents (100%)
were aware of the SDG’s after training, about 90.0% of them
knew the themes of the SDG’s while 91.2% and 95.0%
understood and agreed with the theme. About 91.2% of the
respondents agreed to the need to disseminate the information
about the SDG’s widely while 93.8% agreed that the SGD’s be
disseminated through the media. Also, 89.6% of the
respondents agrees that information about the SDG’s should be
disseminated through the radio and television, 33.8% for
newspaper and magazines, 33.3% for posters and fliers, 40.4%
for the social media/internet, while 90.0% agreed that all of the
available media should be used. This corroborates with a report
by Movius, that the broadcast media have the ability to
disseminate information to large audiences efficiently and
television can be a particularly important channel, while
Chapman, found that rural radio is effective in improving the
sharing of agricultural information. About 90.8% of the
respondents agrees that the programme format for information
dissemination should be through talk shows, while 91.2% agrees
that all listed programmes on the media should be utilized as
vehicles of dissemination. Majority of the respondents (96.0%)
would prefer the information packaged in the indigenous
language only, while 98.0% preferred all the languages listed.
Table 3: Test for Acceptable Communication Vehicles for the SGD’s (n=240) (Field Survey 2017).
||Acceptable Communication for SDG’s
||Are you aware of the United Nations sustainable development goals (SGD’s)?
||Do you know the various themes in the provision of the SDG’s?
||Do you understand the themes provided in the SDG’s?
||Do you agree with the themes provided?
||Do you believe that the SDG’s are relevant to your needs and aspirations?
||Do you believe in the need to disseminate the information about the goals widely?
||Would you agree that this dissemination should be done through the media?
||Which media would you prefer to disseminate the information
||Radio and Television
||Newspaper and Magazines
||Posters and Fliers
||Social media/Internet (WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, etc.)
||All of the Above
||In which format would you prefer the information in the media
||Talk shows (Discussion Programmes, Debates, Magazine/Phone-in programmes, Interviews)
||Public Service Announcements and Jingles
||All of the above
||Which language would you prefer for the information packaging?
||Indigenous language/Mother tongue (Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, etc.) only
||English Language only
||Pidgin English only
||All of the above
Discussion of findings in this study was done based on
analyzed data above which are in line with the objectives of the
study. Findings from this study showed that only 49.6% of the
respondents had previous knowledge about the SDG’s from their pre-test while a 100.0% of them gave complete affirmation after
gaining knowledge from the workshop. This indicates that there was knowledge intake to close the knowledge gap that existed
prior. About 91.2% of the respondents had good understanding
of the various themes provided in the SDG’s after the workshop
as against a previous 64.9%. Majority (91.2%) of the
respondents agreed to the need to disseminate the SDG’s, with
about 93.8% agreeing that this should be done through the
media. This shows that majority of the respondents acquired
knowledge from the workshop session and would therefore
propose the use of various communication channels to reach
others providing the same information with 89.6% for radio and
television, 33.8% for newspapers.40.4% for the social media/
internet and a majority (90.0%) for all of the options provided.
Conclusion and Recommendations
The sustainable development goals 2030 and its various
themes were designed to benefit mankind from every nation
represented in the United Nations through various sectors and
institutions such as agriculture, its numerous practitioners and
stakeholders. Nigeria, been one of these nations with a viable
and buoyant agricultural sector is not left out of the
opportunities that abound from this. Communication is an
integral part of everyday life for interactions through words and
signage as described in this paper. Therefore, this study
It should in its various forms and channels be considered an
important part of planning, and disseminating information
about the sustainable development goals in the Nigerian
The various channels of communication should also be highly
considered viable vehicles and tools in disseminating
information about the sustainable development goals in the
Nigerian Agricultural system.
Communication and its various channels would facilitate
better understanding of the SDG’s as well as implementation of
the suggested goals resulting in viable agricultural practices and
- Ayobolu YO (2017) Influence of Video Documentary on Farmers’ Knowledge of improved Cassava Planting Techniques in South-West Nigeria. (PhD Thesis). Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria.
- Woodard J (2012) Integrating Low-Cost Video into Agricultural Development Projects: A Toolkit for Practitioners. United States Agency International Development (USAID).
- United Nations (2015) 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
- Meera SN, Jhamtani A, Rao DUM (2004) Information and Communication Technology in Agricultural Development: A comparative analysis of three projects from India.
- Caldwell W (2015) The Agricultural System: Components, Linkages, and Rationale. Green Belt.
- Banda F (2015) Setting a Media Agenda in the Sustainable Development Goals. WACC Communication for all.
- Coates GT (2009) Notes on Communication: A few thoughts about the way interact with the people we meet.
- Keyton J (2011) Communication and organizational culture: A key to understanding work experience. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
- Cheney G (2011) Organisational Communication in an age of Globalisation: Issues, Reflections, Practices. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press
- Santucci MF (2005) Strategic Communication for Rural Development pp: 13-20.
- Basri R, Khattak HR, Yaqoob S (2003) Elements and Process of Communication. Communication Skills Module, pp: 6-52.
- Bruinsma W, Neuman F, Stienen J (2007) How ICT can make a difference in Agricultural Livelihoods. The Commonwealth Ministers Reference Book. Retrieved from International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD)
- Eisenberg EM (2010) Organisational Communication: Balancing Creativity and Constraints. New York, NY: Saint Martin’s
- Rogers EM (2003) Diffusion of Innovations. USA , New York. Free Press pp: 1-430.