Oyo State Governor Engineer, Oluseyi Makinde has pledged to give agricultural development priority attention as part of the state growth agenda. He gave this assurance at the opening of a two-day workshop on Human Resource Development of Rural Farmers through Innovative Information Technology at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Ibadan.
The two-day workshop organised by Dr. Lilian Otaye-Ebede and Dr. Olatunde Durowoju on behalf of Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) forms part of the remit of the Global Challenge Research Fund (GCRF) to tackle the challenges faced by developing countries.
It was attended by various stakeholders including farmers, farm owners, extension agents, academics, members of research institutions, advocacy groups and other relevant stakeholders who converged at IITA, Ibadan to discuss the challenges affecting the effective and efficient dissemination of information on innovative technologies to farmers, especially rural farmers.
One of the key themes that emerged from deliberations in the workshop was a need to urgently assess extension services through public and/or private partnerships in order to ameliorate the lack of funds and capacity that have plagued that sector of the value chain.
Another important theme that emerged was the need to have pressure groups/lobbyists from different stakeholder committees that will advocate for investment in agricultural support services both from public and private establishments. More importantly, the stakeholders felt the context of the farmers should be considered when designing and disseminating new technologies.
Therefore, farmers should be engaged from the idea generation phase all through to the prototype testing phase.
Makinde who declared the workshop open, said he was surprised at the level of poverty of people in the rural areas of Oyo State during his campaign before his election.
He wondered what had happened to the extension systems of transferring improved technologies to farmers in rural areas of the state. He promised to pay serious attention to the plight of rural farmers “because without food security no country can claim to be totally independent,” he said.
Presenting a paper on the occasion, the governor who was full of enthusiasm in the bid to find solutions to information barriers between extension agents and farmers, said agricultural information generation and dissemination were necessary for the development of agriculture.
By CHIKA IZUORA, Lagos