The Coordinator of Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE), West Africa, Prof. Idowu Oladele, says there are only 70, 000 agriculture extension workers in the whole of Africa.
Oladele stated this on Monday at a seminar organised by SAFE, University of Ilorin chapter, for the alumni of the Sasakawa program.
He said there was need for agriculture extension workers in the country to incorporate Information Communication Technology (ICT) into their work for easier, more effective, efficient service delivery and increased income.
He said that ICT had taken over every facet of life, including agriculture extension services.
“It is the power of ICT that saw the crushing of Arab uprising and removal of
the presidents of Tunisia, Egypt and other Arab countries.
“ICT has the power to bring everybody together to a common understanding and stimulate action,” he said.
The SAFE coordinator pointed out that ICT had given rise to a decentralized and democratized source of information, stressing that information is now in the hands of ICT users.
Said he, “With ICT, we have been able to move from organization to network; with network, we have viral communication, wisdom of the crowd, crowd sourcing, peer evaluation and empowerment.”
Oladele, therefore, advised the Sasakawa program alumni to create a WhatsApp group with the farmers under their areas of jurisdiction.
“We need multiplier instruments that will be able to relay messages to farmers in all places at the same time, and this will reduce distortion of information.
“You have Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp accounts but how much are you using it to the benefit of this profession?” he said.
Oladele said farmers in India used Facebook and WhatsApp groups to market their products, adding that as an extension service worker, one can connect buyers to farmers through the social media and generate income for oneself.
The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ilorin, Prof. Joseph Kolade, said this was the first time in Nigeria that an institution followed its alumni and updated them with necessary knowledge.
Kolade urged the students to assist themselves and the department in achieving the set goals and objectives by always remembering their Alma Mater.
The Head of Department of Agriculture Extension and Rural Development, Dr Solagberu Adisa, said the relationship between the department and its graduates was life-long.
The Unilorin SAFE Coordinator, Dr Lawal Adefalu, said that staff of the department always kept track of the progress of the students after training them.