The National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA) has said it will employ 30,000 agricultural and other sciences graduates as soil sample collection experts, under the National Young Farmers Scheme.
Executive Secretary of the Agency, Prince Paul Ikonne, disclosed this to newsmen in Abuja, on Monday.
The recruitment, he noted, would be a platform to train the graduates on soil sample collection and soil tests. The graduates will then serve as Extension Agents to farmers.
The executive secretary noted that the initiative was necessary to assist the country in its quest to attain self-sufficiency in food production.
“We cannot achieve food security without understanding our soil, without getting our farmers to know what the soil requires,” he said.
According to Ikonne, the recruitment process will be carried out, in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science and state governments.
On state government collaboration, the executive secretary noted that the governors have started sending in names of graduates with relevant qualifications.
He said, “Under the Young Farmers Scheme, NALDA is to engage over 30, 000 graduates who will be trained on how to collect soil samples, conduct soil tests, and render extension services to farmers.
“The President is fully out to achieve food security in Nigeria and anything that as do to with farmers concerns him, and has mandated NALDA to make sure our soil begin to yield maximum outputs and farmers begin to make their returns on investment.
“And we want to let Nigerians know that we are taking another step in the right direction in achieving food security.
“They will be given an App that would help collect real-time data that would help us in future planning to know each direction to go in terms of assisting farmers.
“We intend to work with state governments in order to draw these graduates who have their backgrounds in agriculture or sciences. We are not doing online registration.”
He explained that the agency will train the graduates intensively for two weeks on soil sampling and soil testing after which the employees will be engaged full time.
“Extension services provider is one of the key services that we have been missing in farming generally.
“So these graduates that will be trained will engage in that as well; advising farmers if there are challenges or issues they will take the samples and run them to the laboratory to know the problem”, he said.
This development, Ikonne noted, will make for a change in the way agriculture is practised in the country, as the graduates will be adequately equipped with tools to help them go about their duties as extension agents.
“When leaves of vegetable turning yellow there will need to take them to the lab and conduct random soil sample test so that farmers would begin to get value for their effort and time.
“The training is going to be free of charge for them and they will be equipped at the end of the training. They will be given soil test kits and that for soil sample collection, which they will be fully equipped to go to the farm and assist farmers,” he continued.