As a measure towards boosting agricultural productivity in the country, the government has disclosed that there are plans towards adoption of technology in the effectiveness of extension workers in reaching out to farmers on postharvest management.
The extension is meant to cover high-value crops like yam, sustainable natural resource management.
This statement was made public by the Director Federal Department of Agriculture of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Karim Babangida, in Ogun during a training workshop organized for South West Extension workers by Yam Value Chain, Root and Tuber Expansion Programme, Ijebu Ife.
Babangida said Agricultural Extension Services (AES) systems are vital in communication with farmers in the rural areas.
“However, to adapt to the emergency context within the government regulations, AES providers need to rapidly change their mode of operations through the adoption of modern technology.
“Providing agricultural extension services to farmers is costly and challenging because of several reasons: farmers are geographically dispersed in difficult-to-reach places; some of their information requirements are highly localized, and large-scale extension provision faces several governance challenges. Under this situation, ICT becomes an alternative option.
“ICT applications have the potential to address some of the challenges. Compared to face-to-face extension, they are cheaper because they do not rely on costly and time-consuming travelling. It allows for more timely and regular provision of farming advice to farmers in their local dialects.”
She also said a holistic approach to agricultural extension service goes beyond technology transfer for major crops and that it also includes enhancing the management and technical skills of farm households relating to production, and postharvest management of high-value crops like yam; sustainable natural resource management; family health care and nutrition.
The Programme Manager Root and Tuber Expansion Programme, Ijebu –Ife, Deola Lordbanjou, said it is hoped that at the end of the workshop, participants will be equipped with better knowledge on how to strategize in dealing with farmers for food security in the face of COVID–19 era.
“You will all agree with me that under COVID-19, extension workers have not been able to meet with farmers as regular they should but with better technology, this can be done without putting anybody at risk.
“Again, yam production has gone through a lot of transformation in recent time and extension workers need to acquaint themselves of the processes in order to advise the farmers properly,” he added.
Note that the dearth in extension services in the country had led to a vacuum in the communication of new and improved practices in the agricultural sector.
The introduction of technology, experts believe, would add value to Nigeria’s speed in catching up with 21st century global best practices in Agriculture.