Agricultural extension services amidst COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria: Policy options
The paper explored the policy options targeted at preventing extreme hunger after surviving the COVID-19 pandemic. Multistage sampling procedure was used to select 15 key informants across five purposively selected Local Government Areas in Kaduna and Ogun States for this study. Checklist (administered through recorded telephone calls) was used to elicit responses (qualitative data) on the impacts of COVID-19 on the food system. This paper concludes that the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted on the food system thus challenging the AES to employ more innovative and pragmatic approaches to reach the farmers. Major impacts of COVID-19 on food system were disruptions in agricultural production, limitation of field visit by extension personnel and distortion of technology delivery system. Major recommendations include: in response to the stay-at-home order in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Agricultural extension services (AES) should explore virtual means to reach the clientele. To this end, farm operations and new techniques should be packaged into short clips and shared via various platforms. Also, legislative means to consider AEAS as essential services should be sought; and extensionists should be trained and provided with personal protection equipment (PPE) to enable them reach farmers. Such field officers should be insured and provided with adequate tangible mobility.
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