News Column

World Bank Withdrawal Affected Extension Services in Agriculture - Kassim

July 11, 2014



Extension service is one area of agriculture development in the country that is being relegated to the background due to lack of fund.

But Dr. Abdulkadir Kassim, the Programme Manager, Kaduna state Agriculture Development Programme, says for the country to be food sufficient there is need to pay attention to extension service.

In this interview with JIMOH BABATUNDE in his office in Kaduna, Dr. Kassim talks about how the agency takes research results to farmers, leading led to increase in food production. Here is an excerpt

Background

The agricultural development programme is the extension arm of the ministry of agriculture in all the states of the federation. The histories of the Agriculture Development programmes (ADPs) date back to the early '70s and the essence of the organisation is to ensure that you educate and enlighten farmers and also guide them on where and how to get relevant production inputs that will make agriculture business rather than the subsistence system that our parents are involved in.

On the contribution of the agency to ensure food security

Actually, when we say extension services, it encompasses virtually everything relating to educating people on the means and ways of better production that will lead to productivity.

So, as an ADP, what we do is try to see that we articulate programmes and projects that will ultimately lead to those things that will contribute to the productivities of the farmers.

So we start by ensuring that we have extension staff all over the fields in the state. Here in Kaduna, we have four zones and we have 23 local governments. These zones are compartmentalised based on the number of local governments.

We try to see that we send extension workers and enumerators into the fields that give new information on agriculture productivity to the farmers in the various locations.

In doing that you know the world is dynamic, we don't stay static. We make sure the extension workers themselves get trained so as to be equipped with new technologies which we shopped from the research institutes, especially Institute of Agriculture Research Institute in Zaria; IITA, Ibadan; and other research bodies.

We worked closely with the research people and developed programs of training. Whenever there are new things that we believe will help the farmers, we collaborate with the research institutes who come to establish field researcher on the farmers' fields for the farmers to appreciate rather than just throwing it at them.

We make them participate in the research at the various locations. If the farmers see the value of what we are doing, they adopt. Where there are problems in the fields and where such problems are more technical than the knowledge of our extension staff, they carry such complains to the subject matter- specialist in the ADP, either at the zonal level or the headquarters.

And if such things are beyond the knowledge of our people we convey that to the research institute to remedy the situation. So that is the kind of back forward linkage work we do.

Essentially, extension is a bridge between the farmers and the research institutes. So we also try to educate the farmers on where and how to source for highly improved inputs, in terms of seeds, in terms of agrochemicals, in terms of fertilisers, that is in addition to the knowledge we pass at our own level.

We tried to link them up as government can't provide everything here. But our state government has always supported the extension network, to make sure we don't fail in this responsibility either by way of conducting trainings or production of leaflets or using media outfits like the radio and TV because our people listen more to the radio and so we translate the messages into local languages so as to let the farmers know new things that will improve their productivity in agriculture.

On the programmes taken to the farmers by the ADP

You see hitherto the production of rice in Kaduna state is always very low and traditionally known to be in swampy areas. But we have developed in conjunction with the research institutes varieties of seeds that you can plant all year round.

Kaduna state is now the highest producers of upland rice in the country. We produce massively in thousands of hectares.

Maize that we used to harvest one or one and half tons per hectares. But with the introduction of new varieties farmers now harvest five tons per hectare with an average of three tons per hectares.

Kaduna is now also the highest producer of maize. If you look at soya beans, it used not to be a crop for Nigeria per ser, but now it is an industrial crop that we produce in large quantity in the state due to the ADP programmes fully supported by the government.

If you look at the quantum of the other traditional crops like sorghum and vegetable, you will see that many people have now gone into agriculture.

In the area of livestock what we have been trying to advocate which is gradually taking shape is transforming the breeds of the livestock. Our local breeds are not very productive, either due to genetic factors or due to poor management structure and feeding.

So what we do is try to cross breed our local breeds with foreign breeds so that we can get high breeds that are much more resistant to diseases and higher in productivity and quick to grow.


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Source: AllAfrica


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