The Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria (AESON) convened the 24th Annual Conference from April 7– 10, 2019 at the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, Abuja with the theme: Enhancing agricultural extension capabilities for improved agricultural value chain in Nigeria.
The overall objective of the conference was to bring stakeholders from academia, policy, private and non-governmental organisations together to chart a course for improved agricultural value chain development in Nigeria.
1. Deliberated on enhancing capabilities for information and communication technologies applications (Cyber-extension) in agriculture for effective data management (collection, processing and dissemination)
2. Deliberated on post-harvest and value addition in crop, livestock aquaculture and fisheries enterprises including agribusiness, marketing and agri-preneurship.
3. Discussed on forest resources, wildlife and environmental management including agro-raw materials value addition
4. Conversed policy formulation and implementation in extension quality development, monitoring and evaluation and on issues of biotechnology/biosafety development
5. Discussed enhancing stakeholder capabilities for soil conservation and water resources management for climate change adaptation, resilience and agro-meteorology
6. Expressed thoughts on special stakeholders (women, youth and the challenged)
The Conference noted that
1. The agricultural sector has capacity to quickly and sustainably transform Nigeria’s economy more than any other sector.
2. Agricultural extension has a crucial role to play in the revival of the agricultural sector as a growth pull for the economic development of our dear country, Nigeria.
3. However, it is unfortunate that Nigeria’s National Agricultural Research and Extension System (NARES), the largest in Sub-Saharan Africa, has not been able to engineer a sustainable agricultural development that would ensure both national and household food security, improved rural livelihoods and indeed, make Nigeria’s agriculture competitive in the world agricultural market.
4. The NARES is equally bedeviled with difficulties in information transfer and feedback from research institutes to farmers resulting in inability of farmers to express their understanding and opinion on promoted technology, practice or problem affecting them. There is also a major problem of inadequate funding for NARES.
5. Efforts have been made to re-engineer the Nigerian agricultural sector, with some governmental interventions in agricultural development such as the Agricultural Promotion Policy, the Green Alternative; the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) as well as the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) programme. These have enabled the government to channel investment resources including productive capital to small holder farmers.
The conference canvased as follows:
1. Enhancing agricultural extension capabilities for improved agricultural value chain in Nigeria presupposes that farmers’ knowledge and skills need to be improved to enhance activities in the various commodities value chains to facilitate increased agricultural productivity and output. This would be achieved through a legislated policy on agricultural extension in Nigeria as well as the privatization of extension practice.
2. There is the need to enhance the competitiveness of our agricultural products in the global market, therefore government emphasis on programs like Agricultural Promotion Policy, the Green Alternative; the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) as well as the Livelihood Improvement Family Enterprises (LIFE) should incorporate enterprises in value addition to further boost our chances at strengthening our economy via agriculture food security, import substitution, and exports.
3. The national agricultural extension system requires to be revamped to strengthen its capability to play its roles in the national agricultural development process; especially to strengthen the commodities value chains. This would be achieved through organized funding such as Agricultural Extension Trust Fund.
4. There is urgent need for allocation of special intervention fund for the revitalization of the public sector agricultural extension services in the country. This is without prejudice to encouraging the private sector, NGOs, CSO and the organised private sector (OPS) to operate extension services to meet the needs of the producers.
Prof. L. A. Akinbile Dr. M. K. Saleh
President Publicity Secretary