By, MOHAMMED KAWU, Bauchi
The Bauchi State Government has in its efforts to develop agriculture in the state vowed to recruit and train 250 young persons as agricultural extension workers as a way of providing support services in agricultural technologies to farmers.
Hint for the recruitment and training was Friday dropped by the State commissioner of agriculture, Yakubu Kirfi at a one day meeting on community participatory assessment of community score cards on smallholder women farmers’ access to extension services, organized by Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) in collaboration with Actionaid Nigeria, held at the BIT plaza in Bauchi.
Kirfi said the objective of the meeting was to determine Small Scale Women Farmers, SWOFAN access to agricultural extension and advisory Services in targeted states of Bauchi, Delta, Ebonyi, Gombe, Kogi, Kwara, Ondo state and FCT, using community participatory score card methodology.
Represented by a director in the state ministry of agriculture, Engr. Muhammad Saidu, the commissioner said that small Farmers dominate the agricultural sector and produce 90 percent of the output, yet experience difficulties accessing agricultural extension services.
According to him, the ministry this time around will be gender sensitive by giving more priority to women farmers during the recruitment exercise, stressing that the essence is to increase rural women’s productivity, income and quality of life.
“During the recruitment, we will also give considerations to Corp members who studied agriculture in their various institutions. This will increase their chances of securing permanent employment and lure others into the agricultural profession” Kirfi said
In his presentation on the public funding of agriculture extension service, the Programme officer Fahimta, Mr Tosin Suberu said that out of the 89.4% of farmers in Bauchi state who were aware of the Agricultural Development programme, only 21.1% had access to extension services and credit.
The programme officer noted that public funding of agricultural extension services in the year 2015 was only 4%, saying that N3, 081, 892, 338 was budgeted, but N69, 790, 939 .33 was released.
Speaking on the challenges limiting women’s access to effective extension delivery services, Mr Tosin stated that women Farmers lacked access to production enhancing inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers and land preparation processing equipment.
Other challenges, he said, include limited access to farmers’ lands, limited access to agricultural extension services, lack of capacity building opportunities, lack of access to credit, lack of access to processing and storage facilities and market information.