The Federal Department of Agricultural Extension (FDAE) of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) in collaboration with the State Agricultural Development Programs (ADPs) and other key stakeholders in agricultural extension service delivery held its annual National Agricultural Extension Development Committee (NAEDC) Workshop with the theme ‘Strengthening the ADPs for Effective Agricultural Extension Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria’.
The workshop commenced with the opening ceremony. The Commissioner for Agriculture and Water Resources Nasarawa State, Mr. Nuhu Ibrahim gave the Welcome Address. This was followed by an address by the Permanent Secretary (FMARD), Dr. Ernest O. Umakhihe represented by the Director (FDAE), Engr. Frank Satumari Kudla, who gave the overview of the workshop, which is to the repositioning the ADPs for effective extension delivery and proffer actionable programmes that can be implemented. Consequently, goodwill messages were delivered by Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON), All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN), and Nigeria Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (NIFAAS), United State Agency for International Development (USAID)-Feed the Future (FtF)- Agricultural Extension and Advisory Service (AEAS) and Nasarawa State Traditional Council. The Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi A. Sule, in his opening remark, stressed that the significant roles played by the ADPs in the implementation of agricultural policies and programmes through extension service delivery are critical to the development of Agriculture and need to be sustained.
The lead paper titled “Strengthening the ADPs for Effective Agricultural Extension Service Delivery at the Grassroots in Nigeria” was presented by Prof. Emmanuel Ikani, Executive Director, National Agricultural Extension Research and Liaison Services (NAERLS), who enumerated the need and strategies to strengthen agricultural extension service delivery through the State ADPs.
The Honourable Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Mohammed Mahmood Abubakar, in his keynote address, believed that the restoration of ADPs should be a priority to achieve the nation’smandate of ensuring National food sufficiency and security. He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for bringing Agriculture back on track. Thereafter, he declared the Workshop opened.
2.0The opening ceremony was followed by technical sessions which focused on the following issues:
i. An overview of the ADPs system in Nigeria: performance and challenges
ii. National Agricultural Extension Policy current perceptions and way forward.
iii. Contemporary and emerging approaches in Agricultural Extension: Public Private Partnership.
iv. The concept of Community Based Advisor (CBA) being tested in Kaduna & Niger State by AGRA & SAA.
Despite all this, a focus syndicate groups were set up at the end of the technical sessions and deliberated extensively on the following:
a. Strategies for strengthening the ADPs
b. Sustainable finance for Extension Delivery in Nigeria
c. Institutional linkage
d. Actionable plans for NAEDC legislation
Consequently, the participants deliberated on the discussions and comments emanating from the speeches during the opening ceremony, technical sessions and syndicate groups and came upon with the following key observations and apart from others:
i. Lack of Agricultural Extension Policy in the country has hampered the smooth administration of extension service delivery.
ii. Inadequate funding of Agricultural Extension (AE) activities remains a major limitation.
iii. Non-existence of AE regulatory body responsible for the certification and supervision of private and public extension providers in Nigeria.
iv. Lack of political will across all the tiers of Government has limited effective Agricultural Extension Service Delivery (AESD).
v. Parallel and duplication of AESD by donor projects has resulted to its poor sustainability.
vi. Lack of harmonized AE approaches for adoption by farmers.
In view of the above, the following resolutions were agreed upon by the forum:
A. The Meeting commended the efforts of FDAE in securing the Ministry’s approval for the National Policy on Agricultural Extension and urged her to expedite actions to carry the policy process to the next level. Thereafter acknowledgedthat the strategies to address all the issues, concerns and constraints for effective agricultural extension service delivery in Nigeria has been captured in the National Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP), hence the recommendation by the forum.to set up an advocacy committee to liaise with FMARD to ensure that the policy is approved and launched as soon as possible. This will fast track operationalization of the provisions contained in the policy.
B. Applauded establishment by law a dedicated Agricultural Extension Trust Fund (AETF) to cater for sustainable funding of AESD and recommended that the FMARD should facilitate preparation of a bill for consideration and enactment to law by the National assembly.
C. Applauded establishment of National Institute for Agricultural Extension (NIAE) as a regulatory body domiciled in the FDAE to certify personnel and ensure quality assurance and control in extension practices and recommended that the FMARD should facilitate preparation of a bill for consideration and enactment to law by the National assembly.
D. Acknowledged Mainstream all bilateral and multilateral donor-supported extension initiatives and interventions into ADPs to avoid duplication and ensure effective collaboration and build synergy at all levels.
E. Recommended Monitoring, Evaluation, Knowledge Management and Communication Unit/division should be established in the FDAE and ADPs. The reason behind this recommendation is to ensure wider dissemination of successful agricultural extension practice approaches for adoption based on relevance to specific situations.
F. Recommended that FDAE should organize annual retreat for key stakeholders in agricultural extension service delivery system and relevant political leaders retreat to brainstorm and chart way forward to improve the effectiveness of agricultural extension service delivery.
G. Noted the need to reposition farmers’ organization to better understand their roles and responsibilities as a platform for agricultural development as well as pressure group during electoral process in Nigeria and recommended that Nigerian farmers group should serve as pressure platform for politicians to clearly define the agenda in agriculture before their votes.
H. Recommended that the curriculum for AE courses in Universities, Polytechnics, Colleges of Agriculture and Secondary Schools should be updated to accommodate new approaches and practices.
I. Recommended that Government at all levels (Federal, State, Local Government Area (LGA)) should provide ICT infrastructures to ADPs in order to promote e-extension service delivery.
J. Recommended that the FDAE should facilitate establishment of a functional structure as provided in the policy for efficient and sustainable agricultural extension services delivery.
Dr. O.O. Oyebanji