From Ighomuaye Lucky, Benin
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) trained no fewer than 30 Agricultural Extension Agents in Edo State on Thursday ahead of the year’s farming season.
The four-day training programme started on Monday, March 8.
Speaking at the closing ceremony of the programme in Benin, the state’s Director of Agriculture, Wellington Omoragbon, representing the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, said the training was necessary in order to expose and equip the agents with best global agricultural practices .
Omoragbon said the training would build the capacity of youths and existing practitioners in the agricultural extension delivery system.
‘This training is the first in a series of batches that will empower you with knowledge that will enhance service delivery to farmers both in terms of production practices and equipment for technical support,’ he stated.
‘Over the years, the fortunes of the agricultural extension system has declined majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and lack of interest in agricultural entrepreneurship.
‘This situation has affected food production exposing the country to danger of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.
‘So, this training is one of several strategies planned by the ministry to halt the drift in the agricultural extension system with the aim of pursuing the revitalisation agenda of the economic by the federal government,’ Omoragbon explained.
According to the minister, it is the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to see that the Nigeria’s agricultural extension delivery system is globally competitive.
‘To ensure we have adequate food for our population and some to argument foreign earnings,’ Omoragbon added, speaking for the minister.
The Deputy Director, Extension Service, Mr Adekule Okunlaya, representing the Permanent Secretary, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, urged programme participants to take advantage of the training to improve the agriculture sector.
He noted that the training was being held in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
‘The drive by the present administration to revitalise agricultural extension services is to help farmers and value chain actors improve the livelihoods of rural populations,’ he added.
The Programme Manager of Edo Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Mr Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, thanked FMARD for assisting to impact knowledge in the state extension agents.
‘Even though this training is going on in the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, Edo is unique because we have been given inputs to support the training,’ he said.
According to Aikhuomobhogbe, the Edo ADP work plan for 2021 is to boost food production by 30 per cent, ‘and we would need your services to achieve the target,’ he said.