Key stakeholders in Nigeria’s agricultural sector recently convened in Abuja to deliberate on the new Federal Government policy on agricultural extension services. This summit was aimed at developing strategies to enhance extension service delivery across the country. Hajia Salamatu Garba, the Executive Director of the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN), highlighted the critical importance of understanding and effectively implementing this policy at all levels.
The new policy is designed to empower farmers by granting them more rights and opportunities, thereby contributing to Nigeria’s food security. WOFAN, in collaboration with the Mastercard Foundation’s ‘Young Africa Works’ strategy, is committed to uplifting the lives of 627,000 people through the WOFAN-ICON2 project over the next five years. This project focuses on improving extension services and engaging the private sector to address agricultural challenges.
The Young Africa Works strategy aims to enable 30 million young Africans, particularly women, to secure dignified and fulfilling employment. As part of this strategy, the foundation will intensify efforts to improve the living conditions of the ultra-poor, including those who are physically challenged.
Mr Taiwo Olawale, the Business Manager of WOFAN, stated that the foundation’s vision aligns with WOFAN’s business model, which focuses on uplifting people’s status and providing them with sustainable capacities for a fulfilled life. Currently, Nigeria has an estimated ratio of one extension worker to about 10,000 farmers. However, the WOFAN ICON2 project aims to improve this ratio to one extension worker for every 15 groups, with each group consisting of 30 people.
Prof. Sani Miko, Chairman of the WOFAN Technical Advisory Board on Policy Change and Advisory Services, emphasized the need for funding for extension services and urged the private sector to complement government efforts. Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, Executive Director of the National Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), underscored the policy’s significance in coordinating and regulating extension services and proposed using ICT to enhance outreach and communication with farmers.
At Yohaig NG, we view the new Federal Government policy on agricultural extension services as a significant step towards revolutionizing Nigeria’s agricultural sector. The recent summit in Abuja, focusing on this policy, represents a collaborative effort to address the challenges faced by farmers and to enhance agricultural productivity in Nigeria.
The involvement of organizations like WOFAN and the Mastercard Foundation in this initiative is commendable. Their efforts to empower farmers, particularly through the WOFAN-ICON2 project, align with the broader goal of achieving food security and economic prosperity in Nigeria. The emphasis on involving the private sector in these efforts is a strategic approach that can lead to sustainable agricultural development.
The current ratio of extension workers to farmers in Nigeria is alarmingly low, highlighting the need for more focused and effective extension services. The WOFAN ICON2 project’s goal to improve this ratio is a step in the right direction. It is essential to ensure that farmers have access to the guidance and support they need to optimize their agricultural practices.
The use of ICT in extension services, as proposed by Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, is a forward-thinking approach. It can significantly enhance the reach and effectiveness of these services, especially in remote and underserved areas.
The new agricultural extension policy and the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders have the potential to transform Nigeria’s agricultural landscape. The government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations must continue working together to realize the full potential of this policy for the benefit of Nigerian farmers and the nation’s economy.
Did You Know?
- Agricultural extension services play a crucial role in educating farmers about modern farming techniques, crop management, and sustainable agricultural practices.
- Nigeria’s agricultural sector is a major contributor to the country’s GDP and employs a significant portion of the population.
- The integration of ICT in agriculture, known as ‘e-agriculture’, is becoming increasingly important for improving agricultural productivity and sustainability.
- Women play a vital role in agriculture in Nigeria, often involved in farming, processing, and marketing of agricultural products.
- The involvement of the private sector in agricultural development can lead to innovative solutions and increased investment in the sector.