The Federal Government is set to increase the agricultural extension workforce to 75,000 across various value chains in line with global best practices.
This is targeted towards the attainment of self-sufficiency in food production.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono disclosed this during the flagging-off ceremony commencing the training exercise for extension agents in the 36 states and Federal Capital Territory, FCT.
The training will hold in all the 37 headquarters of the State’s Agricultural Development Projects (ADPs), Nanono said.
The minister expressed worry over the declining fortunes of the agricultural extension system adding that was traceable to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced man-power and lack of interest of young people in agricultural entrepreneurship.
This, Nanono said had adversely affected food production and exposed the country to the dangers of unemployment, youth restiveness, and economic instability.
In his remarks, the training was one of several strategies planned by the Ministry to halt the drift in the agricultural extension system with aim of pursuing the revitalization agenda of the Nigerian economy by the Federal Government.
Nanono said, “At the inception of this administration, a special committee on the ‘Revitalization of Agricultural Extension Service in Nigeria’ was constituted to, among others, recommend appropriate institutional structures, arrangements and capacity building for the delivery of effective and efficient pluralistic agricultural extension and advisory services in Nigeria using globally acceptable approaches and platforms.
“One of the key recommendations was to build the capacity of youth and existing practitioners in agricultural extension delivery system, exposing and equipping them with best global practices and tools to enable them to deliver with efficiency”
On training modalities, the minister added that it will take off in Abuja and all other states in the federation will do the same till the country achieves the target of 75,000 extension workers over three years.
“We are already at 45,000 extension workers both government and private. And I think our target is achievable. Most people especially youths take agriculture as not important but as you eat, you must remember that somebody is producing these crops and we must enable him with agriculture facilities” he added.
Nanono, therefore, urged the beneficiaries of the extension service training to take it seriously and strive also to become farmers.