Samaru College of Agriculture (SCA), of the Division of Agricultural Colleges, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Samaru, Kaduna State, has called on the Federal Government, states and local government authorities to revive agricultural extension services.
The provost of the 100-year-old college, Prof.
Shaibu-Imodagbe, made the call while speaking with some journalists on how low productivity of farmers, post-harvest challenges and rejection of fresh produce from Nigeria in the international markets could be tackled.
Extension services were vibrant and key to productivity of farmers when the country placed greater emphasis on agriculture in the colonial, pre-colonial and post-colonial eras, Prof.
However, crude oil exploration and subsequent neglect of agriculture worsened the state of agricultural extension services, which further compounded the challenges of farmers, aggregators, post-harvest handlers and food vendors.
Giving the historical background, he said SCA started as an Agricultural Training Centre at Maigana in 1921 and was started by the British Cotton Growers Association (BCGA), with officials of the Agricultural Research Station (which later became Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR)).
In 1932, the Agricultural Training Centre finally became SCA, and in 1932, when formal teaching began, there were only 17 students admitted to the then School of Agriculture Samaru for the Agricultural Assistant Course.
“In 1940, admission to the school was by entrance examination followed by interviews.
In 1950, the school was transferred from the Federal Department of Agriculture to the government of Northern Region.
“In 1955, the one-year duration Assistant Agricultural Superintendent course was introduced and agric mechanisation was initiated in 1962,” he added.
The provost said the college had made highly significant contributions in the training of middle-level manpower in agriculture, predominantly in agricultural extension services, crop protection, farm management, farm mechanization and technology, among others.
African countries, such the Gambia, Niger, Senegal, South Africa, and the Cameroons, have also benefitted from the training programmes obtainable from Samaru College of Agriculture, the provost said.
“In the academia, Samaru College did not only have as its alumni Prof Gomwalk but also, Professor (Mrs) Chibiya Shinggu the current Deputy Vice Chancellor of Federal University Wukari and Professor Dauda D.
Yusuf of the Department of Agriculture and Bio-Environmental Engineering of the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“There is also Dr (Mrs) Maimuna Yaroson, a former Provost of the Federal College of Education, Zaria.
Other notable female graduates of the College include Dr (Mrs.
Olayiwole, who later became one of the principals of the college; Mrs.
Pamela Sa’adatu Sadauki, who was a Deputy Governor of Kaduna State and a host of many others,” the college added.
The federal college expressed its readiness to partner with local government authorities, state governments and the lawmakers to train farmers, emplace a sustainable extension service system and post-harvest management training, saying all hands should be on deck for the missions of feeding the country and safe food exports to be accomplished for more economic prosperity.
“We at Samaru College are ready to mount long and short-term training and other capacity building techniques to unemployed youths to enhance their self-employment,” Prof.
To tackle rejection of produce in the international market, he said the college, the Winrock Intl and USAID had evolved a curriculum for a post-HND professional certificate in Pesticide Residue Analysis of commonly produced agricultural crops in Nigeria.
“This programme is borne out of the realisation that Nigerians have been attempting to export our agricultural food crops to better and international markets for higher revenue.
The aim of the programme is to, through analyses, provide detailed information on the composition of pesticides inherent in harvested foods due to use of the pesticides in the production and storage of the food crops, especially those being exported.
However, he said such a programme would require the support of the Federal Government to establish detailed analytical laboratories equipped with photometric, spectrometric and chromatograhic equipment that will be used to undertake diverse analyses to categorize components of our exportable produce, especially food.
He lamented the poor ratio of extension agents to farmers, saying it had never been favourable even before the collapse of the extension system in Nigeria.
Now, the need for the economic diversification is what attracts agricultural entrepreneurs to seek bigger markets internationally that is opening up this challenge.
“Rejection of our produce arises from the non-certification and standardisation of produce.
This is what is opening in our college the new programme of professional certificate courses in Pesticide Residue Analysis to fill this emerging gap,” the provost explained.
Provost Advocates Revival Of Extension Services In States, LGs