26 February 2016

Nigeria: Food Security - Expert Urges Ministries of Agriculture to Revive Agric Extension Services

An expert, Mr Richard Ogundele, on Friday advised the ministries of agriculture to revive agricultural extension services to be more effective so as to boost food production.

Ogundele told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that an effective agricultural extension services would promote food security, improve income and knowledge of farmers.

Ogundele is an intervention manager for Growth and Employment in State (GEMS), a project funded by the World Bank and the UK's Department for International Development in Nigeria.

Agriculture extension service is the application of scientific research and new knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education.

Ogundele described agricultural extension workers as the bridge between farmers and research institutes, adding that whatever the institutes developed, the officers would take to the farms for trial.

He said that extension workers also functioned as the link between farmers and the government.

"Agricultural extension service delivery is dead in the country. It is not as vibrant as it was in the past.

"For us to improve our production, we need to teach our extension officers new production techniques so that they can transfer the knowledge to the farmers.

"We need to make improved seedlings, crop protection and fertiliser available all the time," he said.

According to him, the vital roles played by the extension officers in disseminating information and transfering knowledge are to enhance agricultural production in the country.

He urged the government to sustain and improve on the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GESS) programme to guarantee agricultural production.

"The government has no business selling fertiliser as it was in the past before the last administration changed it with the (GESS) programme."

NAN recalls that GESS is an agricultural initiative developed in 2012 by the former President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.

The scheme is aimed at subsidising the costs of major agricultural inputs such as fertiliser and seedlings for farmers and facilitating a shift from subsistence to commercial farming.

With GESS, the government seeks to withdraw from direct fertiliser purchase and distribution, and introduce an alternative system of distribution built on the voucher system. (NAN)

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