Stakeholders within Nigeria’s agricultural sector have advocated for the enactment of an Agricultural Extension Service Delivery Revitalization Bill in order to reinforce agricultural production amid rising concerns over food scarcity and soaring prices.

During a multi-stakeholder meeting focused on the revised draft of the proposed bill, held recently, key figures in the agricultural landscape shared their insights and perspectives. Hajiya Salamatu Garba, the Executive Director of the Women Farmers Advancement Network (WOFAN) ICON2 Project, emphasized the important role of agriculture in driving economic growth, underlining its significance in meeting the escalating food demands of Nigeria’s burgeoning population.

“As you know, agriculture is the backbone of the economic growth of any country. In Nigeria, to be able to meet the food needs of this nation that is growing by the day, it is very important that we put agriculture at the centre,” Garba said.

“Luckily, the federal government approved the agricultural policy which has been on the table for quite some time, so it was an opportunity for WOFAN being funded by MasterCard Foundation to follow it up because we are working with farmers and extension workers and one of the problems of agricultural activities in Nigeria is not having capable extension workers.

“So, they need to be supported and this policy, if translated into a bill and later to an Act, is going to help us identify areas that we need to bridge food security in Nigeria,” she said.

Hajiya Garba highlighted the governmental approval of the agricultural policy as a significant milestone, affording organizations like WOFAN, backed by the MasterCard Foundation, the opportunity to tackle the persistent challenges plaguing agricultural extension services. She stressed the crucial need for capable extension workers and the potential of translating the policy into legislation to address food security gaps across the nation.

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Moreover, she emphasized the policy’s emphasis on leveraging technology to enhance extension services, particularly in addressing health and security-related challenges in farming communities.

“One of the things we are promoting in this agricultural policy programme is to bring ICT to the forefront, it means that we are going to have technology injected into agricultural extension activities.We should be able to have an App that can raise an alarm on the farm, even if it is health emergency or it is a security emergency and this App should be able to link up with security agencies or the hospital”, she added.

Emphasizing Garba’s sentiments, Professor Ikani Emmanuel, the Executive Director of the National Agricultural Extension and Research Liaison Services (NAERLS), said the transformative potential of extension services in transitioning from conventional to modern agricultural practices. He identified funding and coordination as critical hurdles that the proposed bill aims to overcome, envisioning a more streamlined and effective extension service framework with the establishment of a national committee tasked with policy implementation.

“Extension services are actually a game changer if you want to move from traditional crude agriculture to modern agriculture. Up till now, extension practices used to be rowdy, it is not coordinated, this policy will solve that problem. Funding extension services has been a problem, we want to see a situation where we will have a national committee that will be in charge of implementing this policy,” he stated.

Professor Sani Miko, the Board Chairman of the Technical Board of Advisers of the WOFAN ICON 2 project, highlighted the importance of private sector involvement in extension services for sustainability and efficacy. He also emphasized the bill’s inclusion of mechanisms to accommodate private sector participation, recognizing its indispensable role alongside public sector initiatives.