By Mohammed Lawal
Zaria (Kaduna State) – The Federal Ministry of Agriculture on Tuesday, said Public-Private Driven Extension option would facilitate farmers’ easy access to new technologies and improve food production in the country.
The Director, Extension Services, Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Karima Babangida, said this at the 2019 Annual National Agricultural Extension Review and Planning Meeting in Zaria, Kaduna State.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the workshop has as theme: “Paradigm Shift for a Sustainable Agricultural Extension Delivery System in Nigeria“ organised by the National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaisons Services (NAERLS), Zaria.
Babangida, represented by Dr Nngozi Odunze, a senior official in the ministry, said public-private extension entailed synergy between government and private extension agents.
She said: “Public-private driven extension option therefore, signifies government-led development, one whereby private extension providers are either funded to carry out extension field services or otherwise incorporated into the public sector system of extension.
“This arrangement can take several forms; from simple contracts for private sector services to more complex Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) agreements which necessitate funding by the private sector.
“The success of effective agricultural extension service delivery is therefore, dependent on partnership and complementary actions of public and private sector.
“But for partnership between public and private extension activities to yield the desired results, government needs to organise national and regional platforms and workshops.
‘’This is necessary to discuss and determine with major stakeholders who will be responsible for which areas not for what purpose,’’ she said.
According to Babangida, the ministry is committed to refocusing the way agriculture is practiced in Nigeria by educating farmers on the right technologies to adopt in their production, processing, packaging and marketing operations.
He said the move would be to improve the quality of produce, generate employment and create wealth for the nation.
The Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ibrahim, recalled that before independence, Nigeria was the leading producer of Groundnut, Cocoa and Cotton.
Garba, represented by Prof. Zubair Abubakar, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, (Administratio),, stressed the need for the stakeholders to rise to the challenges of reviving the sector to rekindle the hope of the nation.
He recalled that the red-carpet reception accorded Nigerian leaders in those days when they addressed the UN General Assembly and other great nations was not because of the wealth they amassed but because of the vision they had for Nigeria and Africa.
Garba, who identified extension as the main driver of the agriculture sector of the economy, however, lamented the inadequate harmonisation and coordination of extension activities in the country.
He also said that the extension delivery organisations were being weakened by poor funding, under-staffing and other challenges, “hence the need to refocus on research and extension efforts toward addressing specific needs of farmers and industries.“
The Director of NAERLS, Prof. Mohammed Khalid-Othman said the institute had been in the fore front of promoting government policies, disseminating proven technologies to agricultural stakeholders through effective extension services.
He said the National Farmers’ Help Line initiated in 2017 had commenced operation: “I am happy to inform you that the center has been fully operational.
“Several demonstration calls had been made to key agricultural policy makers, stakeholders and collaborators.
Khalid-Othman said the main objective of the meeting was to review 2019 activities and plan for the 2020.
He said participants observed improvement and recorded in the harmonisation of 2018 extension activities during the implementation of 2019 plans.
The director, however, said 2019 had witnessed some challenges to agricultural development, including flood in some areas in the country which destroyed agricultural property worth millions of naira, in addition to lives lost.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting drew participants such as agricultural researchers, Directors of Agricultural Development Programmes (ADPs) from different states of the federation and NGOs. (NAN)