ActionAid calls for enactment of agric extension policy

The ActionAid Nigeria has called on the federal government to enact an agricultural extension policy that would guide and regulate the practice  of agricultural extension and advisory services in Nigeria, for assured and sustainable  funding mechanism and quality control. 

This was part of the recommendations contained in it Community Score Cards on Smallholder Women Farmers Access to Extension Services review carried out recently in eight states of the federation.

The community participatory assessment of government expenditure on agriculture and Community Score Cards on Smallholder Women Farmers Access to Extension Services assented to by ActionAids Nigeria Food and Agriculture Programme Coordinator, Dr. Azubike Nwokoye, revealed that about 66% – 84% of the women participants in all the States, except Gombe which is 33.0% were aware of the ADPs and extension services in their various States, but their overall access to the ADP extension services, were scored as majorly poor with a weighted Mean Score of 1 -1.75 in all states.

The report shows that the effectiveness and efficiency of the extension system have remained a major source of concern as they have not produced the desired results that will ensure sustainable agricultural development, poverty alleviation and improved livelihood, especially for rural farm families.

Saying the major challenges limiting women’s access to effective extension delivery services that the critical stakeholders such as government (Federal and States), development partners and CSOs need to focus on are; lack of access to important production-enhancing inputs particularly, improved seeds and seedlings, fertilizers, and land preparation processing equipment; limited access to farming land, compounded by insecurity in the farms; limited access to agricultural extension services; lack of capacity building opportunities; lack of access to credit (Only in two States did women indicate access (11.0% & 21.1%), to some form of credit; lack of access to processing and storage facilities and lack of access to market information.

According to the report, extension staff service conditions require review to make the service attractive especially now that youths are being encouraged to go into agriculture. The dichotomy between the Livestock salary scale and others in the agricultural sector must be addressed.

“There must be synergy between the donor-assisted projects located within the Ministry and the ADP activities to avoid duplication, wastage and unhealthy rivalry. The same must be done with the other State created agencies that have extension objectives. Rather than create new structures, the ADP structures and staff must be strengthened to take on the new responsibilities.

“All the States’ ADPs seem to still be in the analogue as none indicated the use of ICTs for extension delivery (e-Extension via SMS), despite the successes and the potentials of the e-Wallet platform and a facility currently being deployed by the Fadama III AF. Therefore, ADPs should urgently deploy the use of ICTs for increased extension services delivery,” the report states.

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