Okwe Obi, Abuja
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, has blamed the collapse of agricultural extension services for the challenging food sufficiency situationm encountered by most farmers still using archaic method of cultivating crops.
Nanono, who spoke at a workshop on the revitalisation of agricultural extension services, yesterday in Abuja, argued that the employment of responsible extension workers who would educate rural farmers on how to adopt modern means, issues of poor yield, tackle fake seeds supply and unhygienic preservation methods would go a long way in addressing food security challenges facing the nation.
Represented by the Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, Satumari Kudla, he said: “The revitalisation of agriculture extension services comes as a veritable means to boost our efforts. “I wish to set the agenda for the revitalisation of the nation’s extension system by putting these issues to robust discussion which is redefining the roles and responsibilities of the three tiers of government in agriculture extension services and establishment of evaluation strategies, and possible reprisal for actors that failed in their responsibilities to ensure accountability and commitment”
The Minister recommended that incentives that will foster, encourage, mobilise farmers around cluster farming should be put in place, adding that innovation that will encourage aggressive training and necessary manpower and ensuring professionalism in agricultural extension service delivery, should be prioritize.
“Professionalism in extension service also needs a review and putting in place appropriate curricula in all institution of learning and ensuring regular and continuous training of extension workers,” he added.
Aside agreeing with the Minister, Executive Director, Nigeria Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services, (NAERLS), Professor Emmanuel Ikani, said the situation is deplorable as one extension worker takes care of over 1000 farmers.
Ikani attributed the problem partly to the discovery of crude oil, but noted that there sensitisation will awaken the need for reestablishment of extension points across the country.
“The problem that is affecting agriculture in Nigeria is linked to the discovery of crude oil. But there is wake up call for the sensitization of workers. Before it was the practice of extension without policy and principle. I do not have the figure of the number of extension workers but I can tell you that it is a saddening story because the structure to run extension services in Nigeria is actually at the state level which is call the agricultural development project (ADP).