EXECUTIVE director, Agriculture and Rural Management Training Institute (ARMTI), Ilorin, Dr. Olufemi Oladunni, has reiterated the importance of agriculture extension officers in nation’s agricultural development.
Oladunni stated this during the flag off of a weeklong training programme on Value Chain Management where about 50 participants, including Assistant Directors/Zonal Managers of Extensions (from all Agriculture Development Programmes (ADPs) and relevant NGOs) participated.
The executive director said that extension officers are key players in mobilization machinery to the remotest grassroots in agriculture sector.
“You are the fulcrum upon which everything hinges, if we hope to achieve any form of success in this mission”, he said.
He also said that part of function of extension officers involve mobilization of stakeholders, like producers, processors, marketers and even consumers to unite in their activities to ensure food security, provide employment and increase income.
“You are the ones who would sustain and extend the chain, passing on the baton to many more in your respective zones, who would in turn extend it further”, he said.
Dr. Oladunni said that both the value chain development (VCD) facilitators and the extension officers should coordinate to unlock immense potential of deploying value chain approach in each state of the federation through appropriate strategy, adequate funding and all other necessary support.
“You will mobilize the stakeholders producers, processors, marketers and even consumers to unite in their activities to ensure food security, provide employment and increase income. You are the ones who would sustain and extend the chain, passing on the baton to many more in your respective zones, who would in turn extend it further.
“In this way, this new drive would take over the nation, and the immediate and ultimate effects would be vividly seen. So, I want you to know that a lot lies on you and therefore, you should face this new assignment with that mindset”, he said.
The ARMTI executive director, who said that the federal government, through the Ministry of Agriculture was determined to put agriculture in right perspective, added that the government would improve on the programme until the impact got to grassroots areas of the country.
He also said that focus of government was to ensure improvement in food security in the country and employment opportunities for the nation’s teeming youth.
Dr. Oladunni, who commended the Minister and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development for their unflinching belief in ARMTI and for giving the institute approval to sustain the programme, also appreciated contribution of Professor Dolapo Lufadeju, who he said had been on the programme as Consultant to ARMTI from onset, among other lead consultants.
In separate interviews, some of the participants at the training programme hailed the initiatives, saying that it has the capacity to ensure food security, employment opportunities towards increased agricultural productivity in most parts of the nation.