By Oboh Linus
The Programme Manager, Nasarawa Agricultural Development Programme (NADP), Mr Emmanuel Alanana, has warned of imminent collapse of the extension delivery system if government does not intervene urgently.
Alanana told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lafia that urgent government intervention is needed to address inadequate extension agents in the country.
According to him, the recruitment of more extension agents has become necessary to increase the ADP output, saying that currently the ratio of farmers to an extension agent in Nasarawa state stands at 4,210 farmers to an agent.
The programme manager said that NADP currently has about 81 frontline extension workers, adding that in an ideal situation, it should have at least, 3,752 extension agents.
“The World Bank and Food and Agricultural Organisation’s recommended ratio of farmers to an extension agent is between 800 farmers and 1,000 farmers to one agent.
“However, it is an issue that is not peculiar to Nasarawa ADP alone, but the whole ADP in the Federation,” he said.
Alanana said that inadequate extension agents and funding had been the major challenge of Agricultural Development Programme in the country, adding that if the programme could have more staff and adequate funds, it would perform better.
“Farmers ratio to extension agent is an issue the country has to deal with because if we are not careful, in the nearest future, the ratio of extension delivery system will be a devastating situation in the country.
“The same thing happened to issues of employment and replacement. In most of the states, a lot of extension agents are retiring, some are dying, but the issue of employment becomes a problem that is lingering for long.
“The reality is that government has to do something fast, be it at the state or federal level to address this dearth, if not the extension delivery system in the country will collapse,” he stressed.
The Programme Manager noted that NADP is working directly with small-holder farmers in Nasarawa State to ensure food security. (NAN)