The reduction in the number of agricultural extension workers in several states of the federation has become a source of concern for stakeholders and farmers in the country. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) ACHOR ABIMAJE (Nav) GEORGE OCTOBER (Lagos)
For Igosha Adole, a local farmer in the village of Olago, in the area of the local administration of Ochkowu of the State of Benue, who has been a farmer all his life, the word "Agriculation" is strange and new for his agricultural lexicon.
He has never seen anyone visit his community from the government to provide vital information to farmers that will help their activities.
Adole said in response to a question whether he ever had contact with the producer: "You mean missionaries or health workers, I'm surprised that people can walk, teaching people how to farm. I've never seen any of these people all my life. "
Adola's agricultural land is located about 7 km from the Otukpo-Enugu motorway, a situation that cut a local farmer from the outside world, not to mention contact with a crop grower.
The local farmer and his colleagues practice only what has been handed down to them from generation to generation by their parents and grandparents.
The consequences of the lack of basic information on agricultural practices are evident throughout the village, especially in post-harvest losses. Adol admitted that at LEADERSHIP the weekend storage is a serious problem for him, because he still relies on the old method, which he knew, and could hardly save a few crops. "We are forced to sell at low prices to avoid too much loss," he said.
Not only Adol and his rural rural community are depressed about the inefficient communication system in the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
The role of agricultural extension services covers all aspects of agriculture. It includes the provision of timely information, linking farmers to sources of farm resources and credit institutions and, most importantly, providing education services to farmers.
Recently, the shortage of agricultural workers in Nigeria has consequences that have seriously contributed to low agricultural productivity, especially among subsistence farmers, who form the bulk of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.
The standard ratio of the World Bank to distributors to farmers is 1: 800 (one worker-producer to 800 farmers), but the reports of experts and groups on the pace in Nigeria vary.
According to Heinrich-Ball-Stiftung of Nigeria, the division of the Heinrich Böll Foundation, a global group on the global political movement, the ratio in Nigeria is 1: 3,500 people (one producer to three thousand five hundred farmers).
The Heinrich Böll Foundation is part of the global green political movement that has evolved since the 1980s. He describes himself as an agency for green visions and projects, an analytical center for political reform and an international network.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations body, recommended that one distributor should serve no more than a thousand (1000) families of farmers in developing countries.
However, in the report of the National Research Service for Agricultural Research (NAERGLS), the University of Ahmadu Bello, Zaria in 2013, on average and throughout Nigeria, the producers worked in a ratio of 1: 3 011 between 2008 and 2012.
At a recent event dedicated to the Nigeria Summit on Nigeria's food supply in 2018, which was held in Abuja, which brought together stakeholders in the agricultural sector to consolidate growth in this sector in recent times, an expert in agricultural extension services and don at the University of Ahmadu Bello Zaria, Professor Emmanuel Icani, that the situation in Nigeria is deteriorating when more agricultural extension workers disappear from the field.
He said that the ratio of worker-distributors to farmers or farm families is 1: 10,000 (one worker-producer to ten thousand farmers).
He regretted that, as the World Bank-funded training and visiting project was completed in Nigeria, problems related to agricultural growth were compounded by most agricultural development programs (ADFs) in various states that could not recruit new hands from for lack of funding.
"The message is not only about the figure, but also in the key message that the extension is moderate," the university said.
"The extension is key, as well as between generation technology and user access. This is a tool that farmers need to improve their work. In the whole world, you can not engage in modern agriculture without information. "
He noted that extension services had moved beyond government as a driver, saying that it should be targeted at a market that is headed by the private sector or in partnership with the government and not with the government.
He said that Nigeria has not excelled in agriculture, because farmers can not get the right information at the right time to improve agriculture.
He said farmers do not have the right information to improve their results, even if the technology they need is on the shelves without deployment. He said that the lack of information reduced the production of corn, which is 2 to 5 metric tons per hectare compared to other climates that produce about 30 tons per hectare.
The situation he added contributed to a decrease in milk production per cow per day, which is only 1.5 liters per day compared to 30 liters in some other countries.
"Modern agriculture can not be made by an uninformed person, but by people with knowledge," he said. "This is not done by the crowd, but by people with the right knowledge. In the US, only about five percent of the population feeds the entire country, and Nigeria still speaks of 65-70 percent of its population in agriculture, this is the indictment against the nation.
"The government should begin to collect all graduates of agriculture in the country in a program, such as what it has successfully done in the N-Power program, to actively obtain vital information for farmers to improve food production for the nation."
Plateau moves to bridge the gap
Meanwhile, after a shortage of agricultural workers in the state of Plateau, Governor Simon Lalong, manages the hiring of 400 agricultural workers in the state.
Recently, Mr. Luca Kefas, Director of Technical Services, Agrarian and Developing Plateau Program (PADP), raised concerns about the shortage of agricultural distributors in the state.
After receiving Mrs. Ngizan Chahul, National President of the Nigerian Women's Association in Agriculture (NAWIA), who visited him in Djos, Kefas said that the shortage of workers in the dissemination of agricultural knowledge is a serious problem for the implementation of agricultural programs in the state.
"One of the biggest problems facing agricultural activities on the Plateau is the inadequacy of the extension of workers," Kefas said. "Agricultural activities can not flourish without the participation of this category of experts, since they are the engine room of the agricultural sector. They train farmers in urban and rural areas with new trends in agriculture.
"According to the World Bank standard, one producer must serve 800 farmers, but in our own case here he is one distribution officer up to 7,000 farmers.
"Some of our farmers do not even interact with the producer for four years; the situation that I feel is catastrophic. So, in such a scenario, how can farmers know the latest innovations and trends in agriculture? Of course, they can not.
Kefas, however, said that the state government sent the Ministry of Agriculture to work for 400 special distributing workers, adding that the process of participation continues.
He also said that some producers were recently sent to the ministry as part of the federal government's N-Power program.
"I am firmly convinced that with these two events the agricultural sector of the state will soon achieve certain positive results," he said.
Speaking of the plan, former Plateau State Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources Linda Barau said that the producers will be sent to 17 district districts of the state in the state.
Mr. Philip Gonap, Program Manager, Plateau Agricultural Development Program (PADP) praised the steps taken by the state government. According to him, "with such a huge amount that will come on board, agricultural activities in the state will soon reach a significant milestone."
LEADERSHIP Weekend check-ups among farmers in rural Lagos state show that farmers who grow rice and cassava do not use the services of agricultural workers (AEWs), who can help them increase the yield.
Kunle Adebayo, a farmer in the Epe state district, said: "What we plant mainly in this area is cassava and watermelon. The rural population is mostly illiterate, the level of enlightenment is low in relation to the requirements of seed selection.
"I think that we will be able to do better if we have Agric producers who can lecture us on seeds and fertilizers that are good or not good for the soil that we have. They can also recommend a kind of herbicide that is not suitable for our land or crop. "
The Agriculture Commissioner of the State of Lagos, Mr. Oluvatooine Suarau, said that the State, upon request, is distributing agricultural workers to the State Department of Agriculture for numerous farms in the state to help farmers realize their potential.
He said that the current administration from the very beginning started agricultural policy and programs aimed at improving food security in the state.
According to him, the state government has made many deliberate efforts to improve agriculture with the introduction of programs for growing vegetables, poultry, cassava and various forms of agroprocessing programs for young people.
Suarau said that the state government's commitment to achieving food security largely depends on the cooperation of every citizen of the state, stressing that food security and the hygiene environment are the primary goals of the current administration's plans to promote job creation and welfare as a reduction in poverty in the state.
He said that a recent survey in the village was conducted in three agricultural areas of the state, the results of which show that about 711,736 families are now engaged in agriculture as an occupation in the state.
Bauchi will retain the resignation of 2017/18 agricultural workers
To reduce the attitude of farm workers to state farmers, the state government of Bauchi recently announced that it will retain some lay-off workers in the dissemination of agricultural knowledge in their efforts to revitalize their agricultural sector.
State Commissioner for Agriculture Mr. Yakubu Kirfi said this during the presentation of the analysis of the budget of the agricultural sector in 2018.
He said that this policy will affect agricultural workers, who were due to resign from 2017 to 2018.
Kirfi said that according to the agreement, the services of the producers will last for two or three years, so that they can train the youth.
"Those who have resigned during the period from 2017 to 2018 will extend their services for two or three years to give them the opportunity to train young and unemployed graduates of agricultural institutions," he said.
Kirfi described agricultural distributors as the basis of agriculture.
"It would be suicidal to abandon agriculture and these professionals, given the important role of producer-workers in directing farmers regarding the use of seeds and materials for maximum yield, especially in rural communities," he said.
Private Sector Participation
Recently, some private sector players responded to the federal policy on agriculture 2016-2020, which is anchored in the Green Alternative.
One such is Notore Chemical Industries Plc, which invested in the sub-sector of agricultural expansion.
Speaking on the weekend of LIDERSHIP recently, the head of the Commercial Services of Notre, Mr. Tijani St. James, said that in the wet and dry farm season in 2017, Notore attracted just over 1.644,017 small farmers in Nigeria.
Of this number, 900,359 small rice farmers in Zamfar, Kebbi, Kano, Jigave, Ebony, Imo, Anambra, Adamawa, Gombe and Beneu were properly formed in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF) for the adoption of urea. Deep placement methodology for rice with a high yield, surpassing the brand Notore Urea Super Granules (USG). Excellent practices Cassava and cows were delivered to more than 400,000 smallholder farmers through video viewing centers created in 528 rural rural communities.
"Norore has more than 5,300 trained village workers who help the company expand its extension services in the most rural rural communities. We have always placed small farmers at the center of our marketing activities, because they are responsible for more than 90 percent of Nigeria's agricultural output.
"Very soon we will arrive to small farmers with cassava fertilizers, which will greatly affect the yield and yield of cassava. Over time, small farmers began to recognize the efforts of Notoria and, in turn, rewarded the company with unshakable loyalty and patronage. "