A University Don, Professor Mohammed Kuta Yahaya has urged President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Muhammad Sabo Nanono to fast-track the implementation of the national policy on agricultural extension in order to harmonize the critical elements that are required to drive sustainable and market-oriented agricultural development in the country.
Kuta Yahaya, a lecturer with the Department of Agricultural Extension and Rural Development at the University of Ibadan made the call at the 25th edition of the Annual Conference of Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON), held recently.
In the paper titled: “Enhancing the Role of Public and Private Extension in Soil Conservation and Agricultural Productivity,” Kuta Yahaya, an expert in Agricultural Extension and Development Communication, reviewed the challenges confronting sustainable development of agriculture in the country and proffered solutions to them.
He noted that strengthening of agricultural value chain was very critical to the achievement of sustainable agricultural development globally and locally, and then posited that value chain actors; farmers, processors, marketers, exporters deserve special attention if Nigeria is to attain sustainable agricultural development.
According to him, Agricultural extension, which combines series of embedded communicative interventions that help to resolve challenges facing agriculture, should accommodate the issue of climate change including adaptation and mitigation.
“In response to the changing nature of agriculture and farmers’ needs as occasioned by climate change, the focus of extension should in addition to transferring skills, technologies and knowledge related to the production of crops, livestock and forestry products from research outcomes to farmers, to developing technologies with farmers and facilitating innovation processes for climate-smart agriculture,” Professor Yahaya said.
Professor Kuta Yahaya while commending the Buhari led administration said government must do all within its powers to stimulate technology adoption and embed Good Agricultural Practice (GAP) towards improving food security requirements and industrial expectations. He therefore, noted the high rating of the chief of staff to the President, Prof Ibrahim Gambari for his proactive engagements in stimulating the food security and diversification agenda of government.
He said the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development could work hand in hand with members of the Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON) and Nigeria Forum for Agriculture and Advisory Services (NIFAAS) to develop a workable template and actionable programme for the training of the presidential mandate for 75,000 extension workers in collaboration with States’ Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs).
“There is a consensus amongst practitioners that training modules for extension workers be reviewed to make it in tune with globally acceptable standards where extension experts lead in the application of scientific research and knowledge to agricultural practices through farmer education for a sustainable and market-oriented agricultural development,” Professor Kuta Yahaya said.
The University Don who lamented the challenges being faced by small holder farmers said there was a need to intensify agricultural extension efforts in assisting them with valuable information on how to be climate-smart which include developing closer linkages between agricultural research and extension providers; taking into account existing local knowledge and having a clear understanding of farmers’ needs and problems as well as obtaining feedback on how technological interventions are performing.
He also called for a national sensitization programme to entrench soil management culture since land is the pre-eminent factor of agricultural production.