Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has linked the decline in agricultural extension system in the country to low funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and youth’s lack of interest in agricultural entrepreneurship.
Dr. Uyobong Uko, the Akwa Ibom State Director, Federal Ministry of Agriculture who represented the minister disclosed this at the training of the second batch of agricultural extension workers in Uyo on extension tool, methodologies and selected agricultural value chains, according to ThisDay.
Declaring the training session open, participants were urged to take the training seriously.
What the Minister is saying
Pointing out the need for urgency in reviving the sector, the minister noted that the situation has affected food production and exposed the country to the dangers of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.
“The training is one of several strategies planned by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to halt the drift in the agricultural extension system with the aim of pursuing the revitalisation of the Nigerian economy by the federal government,” he said.
He said the training which is geared towards capacity building of youths and existing practitioners in agricultural extension delivery system as well as exposing them to the best global practices and tools to enable them deliver with efficiency was recommended by a special committee on the revitalisation of agricultural extension service in Nigeria.
The minister stressed that the Federal Government wants to ensure that agricultural extension delivery system meets global competitiveness to guarantee adequate food for the population in addition to augmenting foreign earnings.
Whilst he stated that the falling number and low skills affect the adoption of best practices and new innovations in the agriculture sector, the minister also added that this is obvious on low productivity and lack of adherence to standards which causes rejection of Nigerian produce abroad.
“The drive by the present administration to revitalise agricultural extension services in Nigeria is to help farmers and value chains actors to make effective use of productive forces and advances in information technology to improve the livelihoods of rural population, create jobs and promote sustainable agricultural as well as socio-economic development of the country,” he said.
Similarly, in the view of Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, he noted that the extension agents represent the major link between farmers and innovation.