Without any doubt, the pledge by the Ghanaian government to employ youths from public universities who read agriculture, towards enhancing agricultural production in the country is worthy of commendation.
Senior Minister, Osafo Marfo, at a breakfast meeting themed: “A public – private dialogue on stability, growth and jobs”, disclosed that the government in league with the universities would recruit unemployed agricultural graduates as extension service providers across the country.
“As part of enhancing agriculture production in the country, we have decided in consultation with the universities, all those who have done degrees in Agriculture and are unemployed. We will be calling all of them for short term training in extension services so that with their degree background, they will be in a position to give extension services across the country”, he said.
Though the efforts of the Nigerian government to reduce unemployment by promoting youth participation in agriculture have somewhat increased, stakeholders still believe a lot more can be done to birth the desired results.
A case in point is the N-Power programme designed to target critical needs in education, agriculture, technology, creative construction and artisanal industries which has been on a low key since its inception last year.
In a recent chat with AgroNigeria, the Agric Minister’s Technical Adviser for Youth and Gender, Mosunmola Umoru, informed that the federal government will recruit and train extension service providers in the agric sector.
“There is the Npower project currently running from the office of the Vice President that will recruit and train, about 30, 000 extension service providers in the first phase. Moreover, the phase has been approved to scale up to a 100,000 hopefully in the next 3 to 5 years” she said.
Lauding these efforts, Agricultural Consultant, Tony Egba urged the federal government to adopt this model, adding that the Npower program of the federal government is key in achieving this strategy.
“For agricultural productivity to increase, active extension services are essential, and the Npower program which has agriculture in its development plan can achieve this”, he said.
Egba however noted that for the model to be effective, training and supervision is important.
“Extension services that will lead to productivity must employ specially trained personnel. You can’t send someone who doesn’t know the difference between maize and yam to go and be an extension officer. Green university graduates should be attached to senior extension officers in active practice for minimum of two planting circle in a technology based farm before you can send them out”, he explained.
In the coming weeks, it will interesting to see which direction the Npower project leads, and with Nigeria’s next door neighbor, Ghana making headway in incorporating youths in agriculture, the plan by the Nigerian government to revamp the sector through youth participation is already playing catch up.