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ADP calls for employment of extension agents to boost food security


(NAN)

Mr Etim Bassey, Programme Manager, Cross River Agricultural Development Programme (ADP), has raised the alarm that food security plans of state and Federal Governments are being threatened by inadequate extension agents.

Bassey stated this when he spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Calabar on Sunday.

He said that unless something urgent was done to address the situation, the lofty plans of both government to enhance food security might turn out to be a wishful one.

He particularly pointed out that the problem had degenerated to the level where some states, particularly in the South, had a ratio of one agent to 7,000 farmers.

“This is against the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recommendation of ratio one to 800 farmers.

“In Cross River for instance, we have 60 extention agents servicing over 600,000 farm families and the last time an agent was employed in the state was in the 90s,” he said.

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He said that the depletion of extention agents was due to retirement and deaths.

The programme manager noted that a department, established in the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to help address the challenge, had not helped matters.

Bassey decried paucity of fund as a major challenge of ADPs in the country and noted that Implementation of government’s policies on agriculture would not yield the desired results if ADP was continually being bypassed by the governments.

According to him: “ADP was set up to transfer technology to the farmers through demonstration and trials of the value chains of agriculture; it is regrettable that ADP is not being strengthened to do this.

“If not for the Federal Government, ADP would have been history since 1995 when the World Bank hands off the programme.

“Aside the challenges of fund, infrastructure and mobility, we have had governments, worst of it is that governments no longer use ADPs for the implications of their agricultural policies.”

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