The President of National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS), Bar. Ken Ukaoha, has identified lack of proper coordination, direction, poor staffing, inadequate and irregular funding of the agricultural extension services in the country as being responsible for its dismal performance of the agricultural sector.
Making a presentation on X-raying Nigeria’s performance on CAADP Implementation at a two-day workshop on Agricultural Policy Instruments in Abuja, Ukaoha said extension systems in Nigeria have been inefficient and ineffective, as they have fallen short of producing the desired results that would ensure sustainable agricultural development, poverty alleviation and improved livelihoods especially for rural farm families.
According to him, agricultural extension services have been plagued by “poor coordination, lack of direction, poor staffing and inadequate and irregular funding of the public system.
“The practice of agricultural extension without policy have resulted in inconsistencies in government pronouncements and giving of wrong signals to potential investors in the agricultural sector.”
He noted that both the Joint Sector Review study and stakeholders have recommended the establishment of an Agricultural Extension Services Development Fund
To guarantee assured funding mechanisms for agricultural extension, he pointed out that the cost sharing formula among the three tiers of government should be “Federal government– 40%, State government – 45%, Local Government Council – 10% and farmer-based organisations/benefitting communities/farmers – 5%.”
While welcoming the establishment of a national farmers helpline center as an interactive e-extension learning platform to bridge the gap between extension agents and farmers in Nigeria, he expressed worry that this platform has not been popularized as many farmers are not aware of it.
He also commended the Federal Government on the planned partnership between the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and the Office of the Vice-President on N-Power Initiative geared towards training 100,000 young graduates in the country as agricultural extension workers under the National Social Investment Programme.