By; SANI ALIYU, Zaria
The Vice Chancellor Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, Professor Kabir Bala has said that Nigeria is experiencing serious challenges with regards to meeting its food needs in the face of the current COVID-19 pandemic and insecurity issues.
Bala stated this at the annual National Agricultural Extension Review and Planning Meeting 2020 held at the National Agricultural Extension and Laison Service (NAERLS/ABU) Zaria.
Represented by the Chairman Agric Complex ABU Zaria and Director National Animal Production Research Institute (NAPRI) Shika, Professor Abdullahi Kolo Muhammad, he said Nigeria is listed among the 41 countries across the globe that have slipped into an economic recession, due to the inactive period of the global lockdown.
He said the university is of the belief that the current administration of President Muhamadu Buhari has demonstrated to all that agriculture is very crucial to diversifying the economy.
According to him, several policies that promote agriculture productivity, such as agricultural mechanization programme, national fertilizer control scheme as well as the revitalization of agricultural extension through the development of a robust extension policy were put in place even amidst the pandemic lockdown.
The Vice Chancellor noted that all well-documented weaknesses in the extension system as well as the failure of innovation at the investors level led to the system’s ineffectiveness.
He therefore, said a review of agricultural extension activities for 2020 and planning for the 2021 activities are critical to transforming the sector from the present passive state to the ideal model with a clear market and business orientation.
Prof. Kabir Bala urged the participants to develop new strategies for extension services, tightly linked to agricultural research and promotion of demand- driven and pluralistic series with the strong involvement of the private sector.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director National Agricultural Extension Research and liaison services (NAERLS), Professor Emmanuel I. Ikani said 2020 is a year that COVID-19 pandemic has caused so much disturbances in the global health, ceremony and social relations and also a year of debilitating security situation in Nigeria.
Prof. Ikani said NAERLS has decided to leverage on the its e-extension platforms to virtually expand participation at the review and planning meeting while limiting the physical attendance .
According to him, the result of the 2020 agricultural performance survey showed that COVID-19 and the consequent lockdown led to drastic increase in price of input shortage in farm labour and restricted mobility of farmers and extension agents .
The Director said the global community has shown that life may never return to its pre-COVID-19 era, and the Institute has plans for the adjustment which will be better for the nation as NAERLS is fully on ground to assist and collaborate with any public or private organization in this regards.