The Nigerian government in collaboration with Peace Advocacy and Community Development Initiative, PACDIN, has concluded plans to train over 4000 extension workers across Nigeria.
The Director, Department of Agricultural Extension of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, DAE, Mrs Karima Babangida, made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Monday.
Mrs Babangida, who was represented by the Deputy Director of DAE, Mr Ifidon Ohiomoba, said the initiative with PACDIN, a Non Governmental Organisation, NGO, was to ensure rural farmers got requisite knowledge for improved productivity.
She said the plan was to engage no fewer than 10 extension workers per state and many more from each of the 774 local governments of the federation.
According to her, the first phase of the training will take place in Minna, Niger, between Sept. 25 and September 27.
She said, the training with the theme “Agric Extension Service Delivery to farmers: a Bedrock for achieving Food Security in Nigeria”, would build capacity of extension officers and representatives of agricultural cooperative societies on modern farming technologies and agribusiness.
“The essence of the partnership with PACDIN is to train some field level extension workers to support farmers in the field with knowledge and information.
“The intriguing thing here is the partnership between government and an NGO.
“Training has always been left in the hands of government but now we are seeing a situation where NGOs are coming in to support government to train extension workers so that they can inform and guide farmers more appropriately.
“We all know that knowledge is what is driving development these days and farmers need to be aware. It is what you know that you can apply.
“We are starting from Minna with this initiative. We are getting representatives of extension workers from across the states.
“We hope to train at least 10 extension worker from each state in the programme.
The training is commencing on Wednesday for three days in Minna,” she said.
Mr Mohammed Yusuf, Chairman PACDIN, said the organisation decided to take up the project in view of the fact that food security was tantamount to peace.
He said one of the major causes of conflicts in the globe was hunger, adding that “when the people are well fed they think less of conflict.”
He said besides the 10 persons to be engaged at the state level, about five extension workers would be drafted from each of the 774 local government areas across the country.
He pointed out that the trainees would be expected to train more extension workers at their various levels.
Mr Yusuf said, “when there is hunger there is no peace; so, the initiative is poised towards alleviating hunger to ensure peace.
“The training is a mechanism to bring food to everybody’s table and modernising the system of farming to ensure more extension services at the rural areas, to ensure the interest of the federal government is met.”
The chairman said part of the project was to create rural farm centres, encourage modernised farming system, while discouraging rural urban migration.
According to him, the rural farm centres for instance will be equipped with various facilities to cater to farmers without moving to different locations for the services they require.
He further noted that the training was necessary in view of shortage of extension officers in the country, noting that their services were crucial to putting small holder farmers at the centre of development.
“The training will ensure attitudinal change towards rural agricultural development, economic recovery and large scale food production.
“It will educate extension officers on various initiative reforms to encourage private stakeholders in the internal food security development.
”It will also promote better farming by exposing participants to appropriate agricultural technology and farming innovations.
“Furthermore, the training will ensure improvement and maintenance of farming standards among stakeholders as well as improve rural community’s standard of living,” he said.
The chairman said, relevant stakeholders had been invited to participate in the training to ensure policy decision that would ensure changes for sustainable development.