To achieve the stated objectives, the centre adopts an interdisciplinary approach. Thus, in its research and training activities the centre utilizes its own staff and staff of the departments in the Faculty of Agriculture as well as those of other departments and institutions in the university and outside
As a public service unit too, the centre liaises with all development agencies such as federal and state ministries, government parastatals, other universities and institutions, banks, agribusiness, oil companies interested in rural development as well as international organizations such as Ford Foundations, Win rock International, embassies and most importantly local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the grassroots.
The centre was established by the National Universities Commission (NUC) in 1982 as a public service unit of the University of Nigeria with the following objectives:
Improving farming services and overall rural sector through research, training, documentation and publications;
Serving as a forum for attracting scholars from within and outside Nigeria, especially those who are interested in working on rural problems affecting Nigeria in particular and Africa in general;
Undertaking short and long term training programmes for staff of ministries, public corporations, banks, small scale industries and other organizations. It also conducts feasibility studies on agribusiness, rural development and cooperatives and development of business corporate plans;
Organizing conferences, seminars, workshops and field days in various aspects of agriculture and rural development;
Engaging in collaborative research with institutions within and outside Nigeria which are interested in similar problems: research focus of the centre is on family/farm level structures, market problems, project evaluation, policy analysis, etc and;
Finding publication channels to disseminate its findings in bulletins, journals, monographs, and books.