From Okwe Obi, Abuja
The federal government has commenced the training and deployment of 1,110 agriculture extension workers across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT, saying the exercise is part of its effort to improve the productivity of crops and livestock and to ensure food security.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono, speaking during the exercise in Abuja, noted that an insufficient workforce over the years had led to post-harvest losses, poor yields and incorrect application of inputs.
‘We are going to train 1,100 agricultural extension workers as drivers of all agricultural policies and research, without which all effort in the agricultural ecosystem may not realise its intended goals,’ the minister stated.
‘The fortunes of the agricultural extension system has declined majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced man-power and lack of the interest of the youths in agricultural entrepreneurship in the country.
‘This situation has affected food production, exposing the country to the danger of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.’
Nanono explained that an earlier committee on the revitalisation of Agricultural Extension Service in Nigeria had been constituted to recommend appropriate institutional structures, arrangements and capacity-building for effective and efficient pluralistic agricultural extension and advisory services in Nigeria, using globally acceptable approaches and platforms.
He reassured the trainees that the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development through its technical department, the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, has selected resource persons who will bring their expertise and experience to drive the training and also well prepared technical reference materials, to ensure that you receive the best.
He urged the trainees to take the training seriously, stating that ‘by the time you finish this training, you will regard yourselves not only as an extension worker but also as a farmer that will contribute his quota to the Gross Domestic Product of this country.’
The Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ernest Umakhihe, represented by the Director, Department of Agricultural Extension Services, Frank Kudla, said the current situation posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has brought new challenges to food supply and youth employment.
Umakhihe added that an effective ADP system will disseminate and transfer the needed technologies for productivity enhancement and rural income generation for youth farmers; thus, helping to solve the challenges of food supply and unemployment in the country.
In his remarks, the Regional Coordinator for the training in the North-Central states and a former Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Oloche Edache, praised the initiative to train more extension workers and improve efficiency.
He assured that the resource persons in the states across the zone will ensure that participants received the best training.