The Lagos State Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, has assured agric extension agents of more attention and interventions from the State government in the area of capacity development and training.
The Commissioner gave the assurance during a five-day training programme for Agric extension agents in Lagos State, a collaborative initiative of Lagos State Agricultural Development Authority, LSADA, and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
She described the training of extension agents as a boost for the food security initiative of the present administration of Governor Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu, just as she lauded the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the partnership with the State Government.
The Commissioner, who likened the extension agents to school teachers, said that government will henceforth begin to commission teachers in public schools to train the extension agents.
Her words: “Extension agents are teachers of farmers, they don’t just teach but they usually let farmers understand market prices, projections and also expose farmers to the business side of farming”.
While commending LSADA and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture for the initiative, the Commissioner maintained that the State Government had identified the need to give adequate attention to farmers in its quest to achieve food security.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Mr. Hakeen Adeniji, urged the beneficiaries of the training to maximise the opportunity provided by both the State and Federal Governments, through the exposure to modern technology that will enhance food production.
He reminded the trainees that expectations of the masses are now higher with the introduction of the latest technology, urging them to incorporate the use of modern technologies to make their work easier and faster.
On his part, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr. Ernest Afolabi Umakhihe, said that the noticeable declining number and low skills have hampered the adoption of best practices and new innovations in the agricultural sector, as evident in the resultant low productivity and lack of adherence to standards causing rejection of Nigerian produce aboard.
Represented by Lagos State Coordinator for the agric extension agent training, Mrs. Olayinka Akeredolu, Umakhihe revealed that the determination of the government to revitalise agricultural extension services in Nigeria will help farmers and value chain actors to make effective use of productive forces and advances in information technology to improve the livelihoods of rural populations, create jobs and promote sustainable agricultural and socio-economic development of the country.
He averred that the only way this can be achieved is to re-position the agricultural system through training, provision of equipment and tools as well as funding to carry out their primary mandate and responsibilities to farmers.
The Programme Coordinator of LSADA, Dr. Olalekan Pereira-Sheteolu, stated that the present statistics of one extension agent to 5,000 farmers shows a shortage in manpower, hence the need to train additional extension agents to bring them at par with their contemporaries and meet international standards.