FG strengthens extension services to ensure food security-Minister

By Sunday John

The federal government has taken steps to strengthen extension services and guarantee food security in the country, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Mohammed Mahmood-Abubakar, has said.

The minister said this on Tuesday in a two-day National Agricultural Extension Development Coordination (NAEDC) stakeholders workshop held in Lafia.

Mahmood-Abubakar said that the meeting offered him opportunity to clarify issues on the ongoing policy objectives of the government in the agricultural extension subsector.

He said that President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration had since revived the Nigerian National Agricultural Extension System (NARES) to focus attention on the small scale farmers to accelerate agricultural productivity and production.

“Historically, NARES had recorded the most impactful performance in the days of Agricultural Development Programme (APD).

“As we are all aware the ADP extension network has been adjudged as one of the best extension delivery methodology.

“Under the ADP approach, the government provides infrastructural facilities, conduct of worthwhile trainings on improved agricultural technology and supply farm inputs to the small scale farmers as a vehicle for accelerating agricultural productivity and production,’’ he said.

The minister said that the federal government, in collaboration with state governments and development partners in the last seven years, had been supporting farmers.

He said that the restoration of the ADPs was a major priority of the federal government toward poverty eradication and zero hunger in line with the goals one of two of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

He, therefore, appealed to the stakeholders to use the workshop to assess the progress being made by the government and advise where necessary.

Gov. Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State lauded the choice of the state for the workshop.

Sule said that the choice of Nasarawa State to host the workshop was in view of the comparative advantage of the state in the agricultural value-chain development.

He said government was not unaware of the neglect the agricultural extension agents suffered over time as a result of dependency on oil as the major source of revenue to the nation’s economy.

“Today, the ADPs are faced with the issue of under-staffing which has negated the programme in meeting the World Bank standard of agricultural practices.

“It is for this reason that the government of Nasarawa State made concerted effort by collaborating with other organisations to fill vacancies created and to engage the people in productive activities,” he said.

The governor also said that arrangements had been concluded to employ more agricultural extension agents in the state to complement the efforts of the federal government.

The theme of the workshop is “Strengthening the Agricultural Development Programmes (ADP) for Effective Agricultural Extension Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria for National Agricultural Extension Development.”(NAN)