From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja
ONLY a mere 15, 000 extension workers are available Nationwide to serve a farming population of about 70 million, Muhammad Nanono, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development has said.
He disclosed this in Abuja while lamenting the dire shortage of farm extension workers.
During a meeting with Agricultural development partners on Monday, Nanono advocated need for extension workers.
The extension workers are intermediary between the ministry and local farmers. Their job is mostly to relate with farmers, enlighten local farmers and keep them abreast of modern technologies and farm practices that could improve farm productivity.
In a statement, the Minister emphasised on the importance of the extension workers saying they play vital role in the development of agricultural value chains.
He noted how they also serve the need to boost food production so as to ensure food security, alleviate poverty as well as to create job opportunity for the youths.
However, he appealed to the development partners to review their strategy and initiate a programme to train more extension workers. This, he said would help lift the Nigerian farmers from subsistence level to a mechanized farming.
In addition, Nanono stated that the extension workers could train local farmers in the proper use of fertilizer and other related agricultural inputs to boost food production.
Some of the development partners include French Development Bank, World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), African Development Bank (ADB), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation.
Others are Islamic Development Bank,to mention but few but the groups were led by Dr. Samba Kawa of United States Agency for international Development (USAID).
He assured the minister of their support to help deliver government strategic goals in the sector.
They promised to train more extension workers to support the 70 million farmers in order to enhance food production.
Also in attendance were the Minister of State, Hon. Mustapha Shehuri and Permanent Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Bello Umar.