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May 27, 2024

Experts Seek Adoption of New Technology in Agricultural Extension  to Boost Food Security

Agricultural extension specialists in Nigeria are advocating for the incorporation of artificial intelligence and relevant technological advancements into agricultural extension methods to enhance food security.

During the Agricultural Extension Society of Nigeria’s (AESON) 29th Annual Conference at the Federal University of Technology Akure (FUTA), experts emphasized the importance of integrating AI and technology to address contemporary agricultural challenges.

Under the theme “Leveraging the Dynamics of Agricultural Extension Policy for Sustainable Development,” the conference aimed to equip participants with knowledge to tackle current agricultural issues effectively.

AESON President Yusuf Idrisa highlighted the necessity of leveraging technology, particularly e-Extension services, to maximize agricultural potential and praised the federal government’s National Agricultural Growth Scheme (NAGS) while advocating for AESON’s active involvement in the program.

“Research extension linkage should be reinvigorated by massive recruitment of extension personnel across agricultural development programmes and associated agencies in states,” the official said.

Agricultural extension services in Nigeria provide farmers with technical advice, necessary inputs, and support services to enhance their agricultural production.

Extension agents are tasked with delivering information to farmers and sharing new ideas developed by agricultural research institutions.

Despite decades of agricultural extension programs, their impact has not been widely felt in Nigerian farming communities due to numerous challenges. Farmers often lack awareness of innovative agricultural technology that could boost productivity, especially given unpredictable weather conditions and high costs of farm inputs.

During a speech, FUTA’s Vice-Chancellor Adenike Oladiji, represented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Academic Taiwo Amos, acknowledged the enduring challenges in Nigeria’s agriculture sector that have persisted over the years.

“The problems include low application of modern technology and low productivity, as well as poor storage facilities among others,” she said.

“Solutions had been found to most of the problems but the gap between the researchers and the farmers seemed to have remained. That is why the Agricultural Extension experts should be given all the necessary support to play their roles effectively and efficiently.”

This, she said, is necessary not only for the production of food crops but also for all agricultural practices that add value to the economy.

During her keynote address, Agatha Kolawale, Project Director at ACCLAWA, International Labour Organization, outlined strategies for sustainable agricultural development in Nigeria. These strategies included adopting a legal working age, promoting recent work opportunities for youth within legal working age limits, providing social protection, allocating funds for entrepreneurial development, and addressing economic vulnerabilities linked to child labor.

Kolawale emphasized the crucial role of youth in driving technological innovations in agriculture. She stressed the importance of equipping them with robust educational training to enable their meaningful contributions to agricultural progress in Nigeria.

The conference also focused on addressing challenges related to food availability and affordability in Nigeria. Participants highlighted the need to chart a clear pathway to tackle these issues effectively.

Furthermore, the experts at the conference underscored the importance of collaboration between agricultural extension services and other stakeholders. They noted that initiatives to boost agriculture and ensure food security can only succeed through synergy and cooperation among all relevant parties, particularly with experts in agricultural extension services who can enhance the Agricultural Extension Policy for Sustainable Development.

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