*Launches 2 Books on Extension Policy
President Bola Tinubu has reiterated his administration’s dedication to revitalising Nigeria’s agricultural sector to bolster the nation’s gross domestic product and foster economic development.
Tinubu made this declaration during the commencement of the 6th Africa-wide Agricultural Extension Week, themed “Harnessing Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services in Scaling Regenerative Agriculture and Nature-Based Solutions for Food System Transformation in Africa”, on November 6, 2023, in Abuja.
Tinubu emphasised that the repositioning of Nigeria’s agricultural sector and extension services, along with improved irrigation systems, is pivotal to addressing issues of food security and sustainability in the country.
Represented by the Minister of State for Agriculture and Food Security, Sen. Aliyu Abdullahi, the president underscored that farmers require straightforward, accessible and affordable technologies to enhance productivity. Tinubu highlighted the government’s recognition of agriculture’s vast potential in driving the nation’s economy and serving as a tool to combat unemployment, hunger and poverty.
He explained that the current administration is pursuing an 8-point agenda, including food security, poverty eradication, growth, job creation, access to capital, among others.
The president noted that agriculture must transition from subsistence farming practised by smallholder farmers to a market-oriented approach. He highlighted government programmes like the National Agriculture Growth Scheme-Agro-pocket, which supports millions of farmers through training on good agricultural practices, provision of certified inputs, such as improved seeds, organic and inorganic fertilisers and irrigation equipment, all at highly subsidised prices to boost production and income.
Agricultural extension, he said, plays a crucial role in bringing relevant and improved technologies to farmers, disseminating innovations, and enhancing productivity. To bolster agricultural extension services in Nigeria, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security has developed the first-ever harmonised extension manual in Nigeria and a National Agricultural Extension Policy.
“The harmonised extension manual focuses on how to effectively disseminate and deploy agricultural innovations and technologies to end-users using appropriate extension methods. The manual will benefit extension administrators, subject matter specialists, extension agents, as well as farmers along the agricultural value chains,” he stated.
“The National Agricultural Extension Policy aims to provide a pragmatic, effective, efficient, demand-driven, pluralistic, ICT-enabled and market-oriented extension service to all stakeholders, including youths, women and people with special needs, to optimally use resources for sustainable agriculture and socio-economic development,” he added.
The government’s objective is to develop the agricultural sector in alignment with the SDGs, particularly those related to zero hunger and improving agriculture and rural productivity. The plan is to achieve self-sufficiency in food production and reduce dependence on food imports.
Tinubu expressed openness to suggestions that can enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of Nigeria’s agriculture sector, with hopes that the conference would provide actionable solutions to the challenges facing Nigerian agriculture.
He also commended the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and development partners, such as USAID, GIZ, IFPRI, for their support and efforts, which resulted in the production of the harmonised extension manual and National Extension Policy Document.
Earlier, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Dr. Ernest Umakhihe stressed the significance of extension services in disseminating and supporting farmers in adopting improved technology and innovation for sustainable agricultural development and productivity.
Represented by the ministry’s director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension Services, Mr. Michael Brooks, Umakhihe underlined the importance of addressing post-harvest challenges, capacity building and enhancing food security through agricultural extension services.
The event included the launch of two strategic policy books: The Harmonised Extension Manual in Nigeria and the National Agricultural Extension Policy. It also recognised and awarded prominent organisations and individuals for their contributions to the development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.