BMO hails return of agric extension services 

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Inauguration of a Technical Committee on the revitalization of extension services, and returning of extension services officers to the country’s agricultural equation is a major policy decision that will give new impetus to agricultural productivity in the country.

According to the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO), this Committee launched by Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Sabo Nanono is expected to kick start what has been a missing link in the agricultural sector, with all the inherent advantages it brings.

In a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsuji and Secretary Cassidy Maduke, BMO said that the absence of sufficient agricultural extension hands could derail even the best articulated agricultural plan, noting that the planned training of 75, 000 extension officers for the country would reduce the shortfall in the number of such specialized personnel and make  a serious impact on the nation’s desire to achieve its various objectives of modern agricultural practices

”The extension officers can help small-holder farmers who produce most of Nigeria’s agricultural outputs to adopt appropriate technology and mechanise their operations to achieve more yields per hectare, expand their farms  and attract more youths back to the land as farm drudgery is minimised,” the BMO pointed out.

”It is also pertinent to note that the recently-approved establishment of over 6,000 Agro-Service Centres with a World Bank Loan of $1.2 billion would become more functional and effective in contributing to the huge momentum toward deepening our country’s food security, eliminating importation and modernizing the food industry if they are manned by committed and properly trained and motivated agricultural extension services officers.

”Returning agricultural extension officers to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is a corrective policy step, as they became less engaged under the River Basin Development Authorities of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. This is one factor that contributed in the rapid erosion of their numbers, with all the consequences that this entailed for farmers who are in dire need of extension services, based on new development in agricultural practice.

”Experts have always pointed out that effective extension services can promote technology adoption and lead to  Good Agricultural Practice (GAP), maximize and enhance the quality of yields and meet the high standard required of exportable commodities, and the technical needs of domestic agro-processing industries.

”The multiple tasks of the Technical Committee which include the upgrading and equipping of Schools and Colleges for the training of Extension Services Officers, the integration of the national farmers’ helpline with six zonal centres for the purpose of information dissemination, updates, feedbacks and also for monitoring and evaluation purposes of Agric extension services, make its work comprehensive and capable of achieving its purpose.

BMO implored members of the technical committee, who are renowned experts in relevant segments of agricultural specialism, to take and see the assignment as a national service that can change the course of agriculture in Nigeria and transform agricultural practice for the benefit of all Nigerians.

”Advantages that are likely outcomes of the renewed and more vigorous extension services include a big boost in agricultural productivity, stronger national food security, creation of more jobs along the value chains of different crops, exportation of agro commodities, feeding local processors with sufficient raw materials, higher  income for farming households and a large cut in unnecessary sundry food importation, thereby saving foreign exchange. The policy is in line with diversifying the economy using agriculture as one of the three tripods”, the statement added.

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