A fundamental gap between government policies on agriculture and their implementation continue to frustrate their success.
This gap affects many areas of agricultural life including access to information, credit, markets, land and security. There is a malfunction in responsive agricultural extension services. Meanwhile, agricultural extension services have been identified as an important part of the intended transformation of the agricultural sector. For growth to be noticed optimally, extension services to farmers must be restructured to be efficient and effective.
There also need to put a stop to farmers’ inability to access vital information that is beneficial to them. At all times, there must be effective dissemination of information by extension agents cause poor feedback between farmers, research institutes and policy makers in the agricultural sector.
It is believed that over 80 percent of Nigeria’s food is produced by farmers in the villages, and of these, 60-70 percent are women. These farmers work on small plots of land and rely on rainfall for irrigation. If adequately empowered, smallholder farmers have the capacity to feed the nation.
A tomato farmer in Alabata, Odeda, whose name is withheld says, “Any time the extension agents come, they pick selected farmers for training so that those farmers can come back and teach us what they have learnt but most of the farmers when they come back cannot explain anything to us.”
He further stated, “Most of the extension agents cannot come to us because of bad roads to our community. The extension agents are also very few compared to the number of farmers they have to train in the community.”
Most rural farmers listen to radio stations for information but they don’t really understand what they are saying most times. This also affects output because when improved varieties that will improve production come they get to know about it very late. Abdul’s case is similar to thousands of other farmers across the country.
There are also challenges that must be tackled in the area of feedbacks, inadequate funding and poor access roads for extension farmers to access these farmers.
But for Nigeria to succeed economically, it has to restructure its agricultural extension services to become effective and efficient.