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Agricultural extension delivery has been described as the driver of all agricultural policies and research, without which all effort in the agricultural ecosystem may not realize its intended goals.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Muhammed Sabo Nanono at the opening ceremony of the Training of Extension Agents organised by his Ministry at Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme, (OGADEP), Idi-Aba, Abeokuta.
According to him, the training was being organised across the 36 States of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory holding in all the 37 Headquarters of the States’ Agricultural Development Projects in Nigeria.
Represented by the State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Engr. Ganiyu Oseni, Nanono said the training became imperative in Nigeria based on the need to ensure food and job supplies in the fast growing Nigerian economy, lamenting the agricultural extension system which started in Nigeria about 120 years ago has declined due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced man-power and lack of interest of young people in agricultural entrepreneurship.
“Since then agricultural extension has metamorphosed from one stage to another, asserting its importance in rural and semi-urban development, food and job supply for the fast growing population, especially in emerging economies like Nigeria. Agricultural extension delivery is the driver of all agricultural policies and research, without which all effort in the agricultural ecosystem may not realize its intended goals.
“Over the years, the fortunes of the agricultural extension system has declined majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced man-power and lack of interest of young people in agricultural entrepreneurship. This situation has affected food production exposing the country to the dangers of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability”, he said.
According to him, the training also aims at building the capacity of youths and existing practitioners in agricultural extension delivery system, exposing them with best global practices that would enable them deliver with efficiency.
Declaring the training open, Ogun State Commissioner for Agricultural, Dr Adeola Odedina expressed optimism that the train the trainer programme embarked upon by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture was a step in the right direction as it would enable the farmers to get consultancy services free of charge from the extension workers.
Dr Odedina harped on need for youths to embrace Agriculture and make a living out of it, charging them to leverage on Agric Extension workers, currently being trained for guidance, training and monitoring, adding that, Ogun State places high premium on extension agents and currently running one of the biggest Anchor Borrowers’ Programme under which close to 15,000 people have been linked to various agricultural opportunities.
“We are in the era where focus is on Agriculture. So many people want to invest in agriculture and we are encouraging our people to make money through agriculture. But they can’t do that without advice. OGADEP has been set up as a non profit organization to advice people on how to make money through agriculture. If advisers don’t have up to date knowledge, how will they advice the people?
The Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Ernest Afolabi Umuakhihe, who was represented by Dr. Wasiu Oyediran, noted that the present administrative in the country aims at rerevitalizing agricultural extension services in Nigeria to help farmers and value chain actors productive forces in information technology thereby improving the livelihoods of rural populations, create jobs and promote sustainable agricultural and socio-economic development of the country.
“The drive by the present Administration to revitalize agricultural extension services in Nigeria is to help farmers and value chain actors to make effective use of productive forces and advances in information technology to improve the livelihoods of rural populations, create jobs and promote sustainable agricultural and socio-economic development of the country”, he explained.
Speaking on behalf of the trainees, the Director of Agriculture, Ipokia Local Government, Mr Sunday Adewunmi described the training as apt at this crucial period when Government is striving to make the state the food basket of the nation.
Dignitaries at the event include, the Senior Special Assistants on Agriculture, Hon. Tolu Bankole and Dr (Mrs) Angel Adelaja-Kuye .
Others are the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Dotun Sorunke, the Programme Manager, Ogun State Agricultural Development Programme (OGADEP), Deaconess Taiwo Ayansanwo.