The Federal Government has commenced the training of personnel to revive the nation’s agricultural extension system in order to achieve its economic revitalisation agenda.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, said this on Friday in Abakaliki during a four-day training for the second batch of agricultural extension agents in the state.
Abubakar, represented by the State Director of the ministry, Dr William Obazi, said that 40 extension agents were participating in the training.
He said the trainees would be adequately equipped at the end of the exercise in order to be able to achieve the ministry’s desired objectives.
“The fortunes of agricultural extension system have declined majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and apathy of the youths toward agricultural entrepreneurship.
“This situation has affected food production, exposing the country to dangers of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.
“This training is, therefore, one of the several strategies of the ministry to halt the drift in agricultural extension system,” he said.
The minister said that at inception, the present administration set up a special committee on the revitalisation of agricultural extension services in Nigeria.
He said the essence was to actualise the ministry’s objective on extension services.
“The committee is to recommend appropriate institutional structures, arrangements and capacity building to deliver effective and efficient agricultural extension and advisory services, using acceptable global approaches.
“One of its key recommendations was to build the capacity of the youths and existing practitioners in agricultural extension delivery system, exposing and equipping them with global practices and tools to deliver,” Abubakar said.
The Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension in the ministry, Mr Frank Kudla, said that training would empower participants with skills in the use of extension delivery methodologies, tools and best global practices in the agricultural value chain.
Kudla, represented by Mrs Obiageli Nwabuisi, said the first batch of 30 persons were trained in the state in March.
According to him, the training will also equip them with necessary logistics and reference manuals in tune with emerging technologies and innovations in the sub-sector.
In a speech, Gov. David Umahi said the training was imperative because of the increased demand for agricultural extension services in the state.
Represented by the Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Chief Moses Nome, the governor said: “I want the trainees to be specially trained on operating the various mechanised equipment procured by the state government.
“The equipment had not been put to use due to the lack of technical expertise.
“I want extension agents to extensively enlighten farmers and the youths to embrace agriculture as veritable means of livelihood, instead of searching for white collar jobs.”
Mr Chidi Oleh, one of the trainees, pledged to effectively utilise the knowledge gained from the training.
Goodwill messages were delivered on the occasion by stakeholders from the agricultural extension sector of the state.