By Wale Ibrahim, Lokoja
ActionAid Nigeria on has called on the Federal Government to enact agricultural extension policy to guide and regulate the practice of agricultural extension technical support and advisory services in the country.
The call was made at a Dissemination meeting of ActionAid Community Participatory Assessment document of Government Expenditure on Agriculture/Community Scorecards on Smallholder Women Farmer’s Access to Extension Services in Lokoja.
The Executive Director, Initiative for Grassroots Sensitisation (INGRA), Mr Hamza Aliyu, presenting the report said the enactment of such policy would avail the rural farmers especially, smallholder unfettered access to extension services.
He noted that the extension service was in a poor state as evidenced by the multitude of unclear and confused systems being run by the states hence the need for a holistic policy.
Aliyu said the policy which should be binding on states governments would provide an assured sustainable funding mechanism and quality control for delivery of technical extension services .
He also called for significant improvement in the funding of public agricultural extension services saying, “Funding is a major challenge and must be addressed by the Federal and State governments.
“Presenty, it is very difficult to determine the actual extension allocations within the Ministry budget. So, it is recommended that the Agricultural Development Programme (ADPs) get direct allocation from government.”
Aliyu also called on the APDs to urgently deploy the use of ICTs for extenstion delivery saying that all states’ ADPs seemed to still be in the analogue as noon indicated the use of ICTfor xtension delivery (e-extension via SMS) in spite of the successes of the e-wallet platform.
It called for immediate recruitment of adequate and qualified extension agents especially at the “Agent/farmer interface (BES, VEA, and BEA) with special focus on female extension agents.”
He called for Special Extension Outreach programme for Women and Youths and other marginalised groups as well as facilitation of access to production-enhancing inputs including access to land and credit.
In her openoing remarks, Mrs Inikpi Ali, Programme Officer, Public Financing of Agriculture (PFA), an ActionAid/PIBCID initiative, said Kogi performed poorly in the extension techical support services and called for improvement from 2019.
Ali explained that the meeting was also to enable stepdown of training to the people of the state through the ADP and the Ministry of Agriculture which were the key stakeholders in the extension services.
The meeting was organised by Participation Initiative for Behavioural Change in Development (PIBCID) supported by ActionAid Nigeria for participants from the state Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Development Programme (ADP).