The Gombe State government says it has taken steps to address the inadequate agricultural extension workers to serve the farming population in the state.
Mr Maina Binus, Programme Manager, Gombe State Agricultural Development Programme (GADP), made the disclosure in an interview with newsmen in Gombe on Tuesday.
Binus said that extension services were key to the development of agricultural sector and government’s efforts towards boosting food security in the state and in the country.
According to him, it is in recognition of this that Gov. Inuwa Yahaya has initiated the move to overhaul the whole system of extension services in the state.
“The governor is engaging some consultants with a view to overhauling the whole ADP system through engagement of more hands and renovation of offices.
“He has said that he wants to build 114 farm service centres across all the 114 wards in the state. We believe he has good plans to turn around the face of agriculture.
“Those farmers, who are complaining that they do not see extension officers in the state, will soon have cause to smile, because we will soon be reaching out to them,’’ he said.
According to him, the world has changed, with agriculture being the centre of focus now, adding “whether we like it or not, a lot of investments has to go into the agric sector.’’
The programme manager said that the state government was also doing a lot to leverage on technology in rendering extension services and other innovations to attract the youth into farming.
He assured that with the 114 farm service centres, agro-allied industries would spring up to add value to farming to ensure that wealth was created for farmers in rural areas.
Binus decried the dwindling number of extension workers in the state, which he put at about 100, as against the 1,000 as at 1997.
He explained that a lot of the extension workers had retired while others had left the service in view of the low remuneration which they were being paid.
He added that the remuneration disparity between core extension workers in the state and their counterparts, who were fishery and livestock officers, had resulted in the former leaving the service in droves.
Binus commended the governor for his support in paying counterpart funds to develop the sector and the ADP, stressing that the state would become an agricultural hub, if the efforts were sustained.
Earlier, a NAN correspondent, who visited Garin Bako-Awak, Kalarin, Lapan and Boh communities in Kaltungo and Shongom local government areas of the state, had received complaints from farmers on the dearth of extension workers.
They said that the development had affected their yields and discouraged many farmers in their communities.
The farmer said that they had no one to introduce modern farming techniques to them, adding that they had consequently been forced to continue recycling old seedlings, instead of using the improved ones, with early maturing period.