As the novel Coronavirus compounds woes in global food production, availability, affordability and accessibility, the Federal Government, Wednesday, moved to South West Nigeria to build and boost the capacity of agricultural extension workers in yam production.
The training workshop for agricultural extension workers in that part of the country was organised was the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in order to reposition extension services in line with new approach to develop the yam value chain according to modern-day best practices.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the training workshop with theme ‘Role of Extension Workers in Yam Value Chain Transformation for Food Security in the Face of COVID-19 Pandemic’ at Ijebu-Ife, Ogun State, the Director, Federal Department of Agriculture in the Ministry, Karima Babangida, in a keynote address explained the essence of the training workshop, which is to appraise the extension delivery services in yam value chain development.
According to Babangida restriction of movement of people, goods and services have negatively impacted food supply chains, incomes, and livelihoods in the country.
She said: “Since effective extension service delivery is key to boosting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth, it becomes necessary to organize this workshop.
“Yam value chain has transformed greatly in the last ten years but little is known of the impact of extension service in the process. I am convinced therefore that at the end of this workshop, you would have had an improved understanding of an effective extension service delivery.
“The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is expanding daily. Governments around the globe are confronted with multiple challenges related to minimizing the devastating health impact and protecting human lives and ensuring sufficient food supplies and the functioning of services to those most in need. All this, while coping with the economic consequences of COVID-19, is expected to push an additional 548 million people below the poverty line.
“Between present disruptions and future threats to the food supply chain, the COVID-19 outbreak has generated extreme vulnerability in the agriculture sector. It is, therefore, crucial to mobilize all available instruments, institutions, and stakeholders from both public and private sectors and civil society organizations to ensure appropriate and timely response to food security through extension services.
“Agricultural Extension Services (AES) systems play an indispensable role at the frontline in communicating with the rural farmers.”
She also stressed the need for agric extension workers to adopt modern technology to be effective in their service delivery to farmers and others on the yam value chain.
“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 extensions, 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.
“In addition, a holistic approach to agricultural extension service goes beyond technology transfer for major crops. 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.”