By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
The Federal Government, Wednesday, commended German development partner, Gesellschaft fuer Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ, over support given to smallholder farmers.
The commendation was made by the Federal Department of Agricultural Extension during a field visit to GIZ Rice Demonstration plot at Keffi, Nasarawa State.
The Director of Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, Karima Babangida, said the efforts of GIZ have been credible and more will still be achieved following the support smallholder farmers are receiving based on what she saw at the demonstration farm.
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Babangida also said the federal government will work more closely with the organization to ensure food sufficiency in the country by supporting the nation’s rural farmers.
However, the Deputy Director, Field Extension Service, Federal Department of Agricultural Extension, Dr. Ngozi Odunze, decried dearth of extension agents in the nation.
According to Odunze with the lack of extension agents whose number cannot service farmers’ needs, the federal government should employ more extension agents that would boost Agric extension services in order to boost farmers’ productivity and knowledge.
She also emphasized the need to apply ICT in disseminating vital information that would help rural farmers but said the personal contact between farmers and Agric extension officers on the farm is the most effective method.
“What we can do based on what we have seen from the field during our visit to the demo plot is to encourage more women and youths in other communities to organize themselves and go into serious farming.
“The use of ICT presently is being tried on farmers but it cannot replace face-to-face services by extension with extension agents, but at least it will help, we also have helpline centres that have been built in different zones.
“We went for the sensitization last month for them to realise that such help-lines are in different places for them to use so that right from their farms makes a call and somebody in that centre will receive, they will ask their questions and the person will get answers and relay it back to them.
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A smallholder farmer, Helen Pius, said they need modern technology and more extension agents, and the state government should provide an enabling environment for farmers to meet up with the federal government’s goal in achieving self-sufficiency.
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