By Nefishetu Yakubu
The Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) has trained no fewer than 30 agricultural Extension Agents in Edo State ahead of 2021 farming season.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four days training programme in collaboration with the Agricultural extension Research Liaison Services (NEARLS) and Sasakawa Africa Association Global 2000, began on Monday, March 8, in Benin.
Speaking at the closing ceremony on Thursday in Benin, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alh. Sabo Nanono, said the training became necessary in order to expose the agents to agricultural global best practices.
Represented by the State Director of Agriculture, Mr Wellington Omoragbon, the minister said the training would build the capacity of youth and existing practitioners in agricultural extension delivery system.
“This training is the first in series that will empower you with knowledge that will enhance service delivery to farmers both in terms of production practices and equipment for technical support.
“Over the year, the fortunes of the agricultural extension system has declined, majorly due to decreased funding, policy changes, reduced manpower and lack of interest in agricultural entrepreneurship.
“This situation has affected food production, exposing the country to danger of unemployment, youth restiveness and economic instability.
“So, this training is one of several strategies planned by the Ministry to halt the drift in the agricultural extension system with the aim of pursuing the revitalisation agenda of the economy by the Federal Government,” he said.
According to the minister, it is the desire of President Muhammadu Buhari to see that Nigeria’s agricultural extension delivery system meets global competitiveness.
“This is to ensure that we have adequate food for our population and some to augument foreign earnings,” Nanono added.
Also, Mr Ernest Umakhihe, Permanent Secretary in the ministry, represented by the Deputy Director, Extension Service, Mr Adekule Okunlaya, urged the participants to take advantage of training to improve the agricultural sector.
Umakhihe said that the training was being held in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“The drive by the present administration to revitalise agricultural extension services is to help farmers and value chain actors improve the livelihoods of rural populations,” he added.
Earlier, the Programme Manager of Edo Agricultural Development Project (ADP), Mr Peter Aikhuomobhogbe, thanked FMARD for assisting to train extension agents in the state.
“Even though this training is going on in the 36 states of the federation including the FCT, Edo is unique because we have been given inputs to support the training,” he said.
According to Aikhuomobhogbe, the Edo ADP work plan for 2021 is to boost food production by 30 per cent, adding that they would need extension services to achieve the target. (NAN)