Plateau Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ezekiel Finangwai, says the ongoing training of agric extension agents in the state by the Federal Government will boost agricultural production and enhance food security in the state.
Finangwai, who was represented by Mr Matawal Mafuwai, Coordinator of the state’s Rural Access and Marketing Agency, stated this on Wednesday in Jos at the opening of the 3-day training of the extension agents.
He said that the training would impact positively on the development and encouragement of agriculture in Plateau.
“Our farmers are eager, they are prepared and they have farm equipment and inputs that are necessary.
“But without them having the knowledge on the utilisation of the modern equipment, they may not make good use of them.
“This training is very important because of the fact that agriculture is not static, it is dynamic, and there are innovations,” he said.
The commissioner commended the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) for organising the training programme, saying that the initiative would boost yields and operations in agriculture.
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Muhammad Mahmood, in his remarks, said that agricultural extension had metamorphosed from one stage to another.
The minister, who was represented by Michael Adegboye, an Assistant Director in the ministry, said that agric extension had asserted its importance in rural and semi-urban development, food and job supply for the fast growing population, especially in emerging economies such as Nigeria.
“Over the years, the fortunes of the agricultural extension system has declined majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and lack of interest of young people in agricultural entrepreneurship.
“This situation has affected food production, exposing the country to the dangers of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.
“This training is one of the several strategies planned by the FMARD to halt the drift in the agricultural extension system with aim of pursuing the revitalization agenda of the Nigerian economy by the Federal Government,” he said.
Mr Frank Kudla, Director, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, FMARD, said that the factors causing the decline in the national agricultural extension delivery system included the decreasing number of extension agents caused by retirements, deaths and non-replacements.
Kudla, who was represented by Mr David Anyam, an Agric Officer, said that youth unwillingness to embrace agricultural entrepreneurship, poor capacity of existing extension agents to deliver due to lack or low quality of training, and the general poor funding of the sub-sector were other factors.
“This training is designed to empower participants with skills in the use of extension delivery methodologies and tools, as well as the best global practices in agricultural value chains, as chosen by your state.
“The training also provides you with necessary logistics and reference manuals in tune with emerging technologies, innovations and practices in the sub-sector.
“The resource persons have been carefully selected from agricultural research institutions, universities, colleges of agriculture and the Agricultural Development Programme (ADP) itself, and few private sector partners,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 40 agric extension agents from Plateau will be trained at the programme.