The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has flagged off the training of 1,100 extension workers across Nigeria’s 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.
Minister of Agriculture Muhammad Sabo Nanono, during the educational exercise held at the Agricultural Development Project (ADP) headquarters in Abuja, noted that the training was part of an effort by the government to promote agricultural extension and thus improve productivity.
Agricultural extension ensures the transfer of knowledge and skills to farmers, and helps to drive agricultural policies and research, without which progress might not be realized in the agronomic ecosystem.
Extension agents are responsible for finding out what knowledge and skills are lacking among farmers and their families and then arranging suitable learning experiences through which these can be acquired.
The minister highlighted several factors leading to a decline in the agricultural extension system, including decreased funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and a lack of interest amongst the youth to pursue agricultural entrepreneurship.
He further explained that the situation has affected food security by exposing the country to potential unemployment, economic instability and restlessness in the youth population. In light of this, Nanono asserted that participants would receive the best training possible from the exercise, while urging all involved to take the training seriously.
“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 (GDP) of this country,” Nanono added.
Speaking on behalf of Ernest Umakhihe, permanent secretary for the FMARD, Engr Frank Kudla, director of the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Services, noted that an effective ADP system would disseminate and transfer the technologies needed for productivity enhancement and rural income generation.