Ilorin — A professor of Agricultural Extension at the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development, University of Ilorin, Kwara State, Prof. Oluwasegun Adekunle has declared that the only way to unlock the nation's agricultural potentials is for the government to commence a robust agricultural extension services policy.
This, the don said, would go a long way in driving the agriculture sector in the country to a robust and profitable level. Adekunle disclosed this in Ilorin in a paper he delivered at the 120th inaugural lecture of the university entitled 'Key to Unlock'.
According to him, "this policy is the crucial instrument lacking since the past five decades in Nigeria. Its absence has resulted in the mess of agriculture as of today because there is lack of agricultural potentials that are yet to be tapped due to lack of this policy for the economic development of the country".
He noted further that, "when agricultural prospects and potentials of Nigeria are locked up, it affects half of West Africa. But, when agriculture is fully unlocked, exports will supersede imports, foreign exchange will improve and so will our economic power and influence globally".
Adekunle said, "It is not sufficient for any government to embark on agriculture just for its sake without the intricate harmony of resources, the most critical of which is extension services".
He pointed out that the fundamental objective of extension education is the development of the people especially rural farm people. He explained that, "it is most disheartening that Nigeria has been gambling about agriculture, unfortunately, the present destabilising and colossal food import bills have shown the failure of all the past approaches to date."
Adekunle maintained that, "the key to the agricultural development in the country is to use agricultural extension to diagnose the rural issues affecting agricultural development in Nigeria and to develop a robust agricultural extension policy."
He therefore said, "any nation that has a quality extension system, generously funds agricultural extension services, listens to the needs of the farmers, equips and motivates economic personnel, measures its impacts among others, should expect high agricultural productivity among small scale farmers, social growth, peace, economic and global affluence."