The Vice chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University zaria Professor Kabir Bala has described agricultural extension as a sure strategy in the use of agriculture for economic diversification.
He stated this while declaring open a 2 day National agricultural extension review and planning meeting held at NAERLS conference hall in Zaria.
The Vice chancellor who was represented by the Director National Animal production research institute, Professor Abdullahi kolo Mohd said the required growth in agriculture can only be achieved through effecient and effective agricultural extension system.
He expressed concern on how extension delivery institutions like state agricultural development projects have been weakened by poor funding, poor staffing and several other challenges.
He therefore emphasized the need to focus on research and extension efforts towards addressing the specific demands of farmers and Industries.
He said the review of agricultural extension activities for the year 2020 and planning for the year 2021 activities are critical to transforming the sector from its present state to the ideal model.
The Vice chancellor said relevant financing for all agricultural subsectors must be provided to enable research and extension service providers to fully leverage on modern ICT in agriculture.
He said the various challenges of covid 19 from the lockdown to the social distancing protocols have make experts to start rethinking agricultural extension and advisory services especially during a pandemic as we can not continue in the old ways and expect new and trending results.
In his welcome address, the Director, National agricultural extension and research liaison services, professor Emmanuel Ikani said the results of the year 2020 agricultural performance survey showed that covid 19 and the consequent lockdown led to drastic increases in prices of inputs, shortages in farm labour and restricted mobility of farmers and extension agents.
He added that the survey results also showed that extension activities have continued to decline with all agricultural development projects being under staffed and underfunded.
The Director said NAERLS has been in the forefront of promoting government policies and forging new pathways in extension delivery services in Nigeria as the institute has gone a step further in strengthening its dissemination and capacity building platforms.
He said in 2017 the institute has commenced the national farmers helpline center as a new phase in extension delivery for the country.
He said the center had attended to calls of over 700,000 farmers and other stakeholders in English,Hausa,Yoruba,Igbo, and Pidgin English.
The theme of the conference is Managing agricultural extension services in Nigeria during and beyond the covid 19 pandemic.