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Agriculture committee makes case for extension workers in Bauchi

The Bauchi State Public Finance for Agriculture Budget Committee on Friday appealed to the state government to employ about 1,000 agricultural extension workers to ensure the attainment of food security and zero hunger in the state.

The appeal was made by the chairperson of the committee, Mrs Tabawa Atiku, at a press briefing on the findings from the analysis of the state’s 2021 approved agricultural budget organized by the Small Scale Women Farmers Organization in Nigeria (SWOFON), in collaboration with Fahimta Women and Youth Development Initiative (FAWOYDI) with support from ActionAid Nigeria.

According to Atiku, about five million farmers are currently practising in Bauchi State, adding to achieve food sufficiency, efforts should be geared towards meeting the ‘one extension worker to 3, 000 farmers ratio’.

While enumerating the importance of extension workers in agriculture, the chairperson submitted that there were always new researches and farming techniques, which extension workers, who she described as experts in agriculture, would be able to educate farmers on, to boost their production.

“Due to the shortfall in the number of extension workers in Bauchi State, we suggest immediate employment of about 1,000 of such professionals to ensure the attainment of food security in line with zero hunger and food security.

“The Ministry of Agriculture should collaborate with the Bauchi State College of Agriculture to promote graduating students from the college to be utilized to achieve human development capacity,” Mrs Atiku said.

She further said that if employed, such students would serve in various capacities, especially in the rural areas to support smallholder farmers in the utilization of new technologies in agriculture.

She commended the state government for allocating N12.5 billion to agriculture in the state’s 2021 Appropriation Act, which she said was equivalent to 5.9 per cent of the budget, compared with the 5.34 per cent earmarked in the previous year.

She, however, called on the state government to speedily release funds for agriculture in the course of implementing the budget to ensure effective implementation of the agricultural programme in the state this year.

Atiku also called on the government to honour the ‘Maputo Declaration’ by allocating not less than 10 percent of the state’s total budget to agriculture in subsequent years to diversify its economic base as well as wealth creation.

Meanwhile, the committee also expressed concern over the zero allocation to ‘Climate Resilient Sustainable Agriculture in the 2020-2021 budget despite threats posed by climate change, farmers/herder clashes, desert encroachment and land degradation.

It, however, urged the state governor, Senator Bala Mohammed, to include it in the supplementary budget.

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