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Senate, House of Reps Committees on Agriculture welcome agricultural extension services bill

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Senate, House of Reps Committees on Agriculture welcome agricultural extension services bill

The Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Services, Honourable Bello Kaoje and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Production Services and Rural Development, Senator Saliu Mustapha, have commended the Women Farmers Advancement Network and Country Representatives (WOFAN-ICON2 Project) for the proposed agricultural extension services delivery revitalisation bill and contribution to the development of agriculture in Nigeria.

Speaking during the technical session on the Draft Agricultural Extension Service Delivery Revitalising Bill organised by WOFAN-ICON2 Project in collaboration with Mastercard Foundation at Transcorp Hilton Abuja on Wednesday, Senator Saliu Mustapha assured of his commitment to the speedy passage of the agricultural extension services delivery revitalisation bill.

Expressing the commitment of the Senate Agricultural Committee to facilitate development of the agricultural sector, Senator Mustapha said agriculture should be Nigeria’s means of livelihood because a working agricultural sector will bring about a significant reduction to the insecurity plaguing the nation by 70%.

He said, “I am aware that the bill is still a work in progress, which makes it very important to ensure that we present a legislation that will improve our farming system in tune with the advancement in technology and global improvement of agricultural extension services around the world.

“There is a need to expand the scope of the technical committee and enrich the draft bill so it can stand the taste of time.

The Senator said he will bring his colleagues in the national assembly on board so as to ensure the bill gets the wider scope to cover all aspects needed.

On his part, Honourable Kaoje, Chairman, House Committee on Agricultural Services, assures of support from the House of Representatives to a bill that will advance agricultural development services and improve the lives of Nigerian farmers.

He said the proposed bill is a welcomed development in the agricultural sector which can improve the lives of farmers and encourage women and youths to participate fully in profitable agricultural activities.

Earlier in her welcome address, the WOFAN-ICON2 Country Director, Hajiya Salamatu Garba, said the Draft Agricultural Extension Service Bill is a game changer that would legalise, harmonise and recognise Extension Services to be implemented at the rural level and provide technical advice on agriculture to farmers, while supplying them with the necessary inputs and services to increase productivity.

“We’re pushing it from just a policy document to make sure that the Senate and the National Assembly, understand and absorb so that it can be translated into a bill and later may become an act.

Hajiya Salamatu Garba said if the bill was passed, it meant that the federal government would have a particular percentage dedicated to agriculture, which is the backbone of the economy.

She said the agricultural extension service delivery revitalisation bill will go a long way to increase food production and create food security in Nigeria, thereby reducing the exorbitant price of foodstuffs in the country.

“Imagine buying a bag of rice for 65,000, in a country like this, where poverty is on the increase.

“To be honest, the agricultural extension system in Nigeria needs a lot of reawakening and this bill will help push the process forward,” she said.

The Chairman, WOFAN Technical Advisory Board on Policy Change and Advisory Services, Professor Sani Miko, during an introduction to the draft bill on Extension said the agric extension services bill will promote human resource development, career progression, and professionalism in the agricultural sector.

He said it would equally go a long way to enhance and enable farmers to experience bumper harvests, ensure food security in the country and contribute to the economic growth of the entire nation.

Making recommendations after the presentation of the draft bill by the legal team, Co-founder of CropIt Nigeria Limited, Sandy Eyal, encouraged the provision of ICT in the bill in order to successfully carry out agric extension activities and easily cater to the needs of close to two million farmers.

Stating some of the benefits of the draft bill to women and youths, Bilkisu I. Suleiman, Chairperson of FIDA Kano State branch, said the bill will help women, youths and vulnerable people in the society establish themselves and create a robust business in agriculture. She urged the relevant stakeholders to ensure the bill sees the light of the day.

During the Panel Discussion, panelists identified agricultural extension services as one of the vital parts of the agriculture sector that plays a major role in the overall attempt to reposition agriculture as the driving force of the economy.

They emphasized the need to instill passion in people that will be brought on board to resurrect the agricultural sector.

Participants during the workshop suggest setting up a regulatory body that will monitor the bill every step of the way and the need to have broader understanding of appropriate laws and policies applicable to agriculture in order to make the bill an acceptable legal document before the senate.

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