Agricultural extension services are one of the ways that people have argued can assist the nation in the modernisation and transformation of agriculture in the country.
Those who argue for it explain that, it is a process that offers advice and information to help solve problems, increase efficiency, production and generally enhance the standard of living of farmers.
In other words, the objective of extension service is to change farmers’ outlook toward their difficulties. An Extension officer is, therefore, concerned not just with physical and economic achievements but also with the development of the rural farmers themselves.
An extension officer, therefore, discusses matters with rural farmers; help them to gain a clearer insight into their problems in order to decide how to overcome these problems.
Generally, extension is a process of working with rural farmers in order to improve their livelihoods. This also involves helping farmers to improve the productivity of their agriculture and also develop their abilities to direct their own future development.
Although farmers already have a lot of knowledge about their environment and their farming system, extension can bring them other knowledge and information which they do not have.
For example, knowledge about the cause of the damage to a particular crop, the general principles of pest control, or the ways in which manure and compost are broken down to provide plant nutrients are all areas of knowledge that the officer can usefully bring to farmers.
The application of such knowledge often means that the farmer has to acquire new skills of various kinds: for example, technical skills to operate unfamiliar equipment, organisational skills to manage a group project, the skill to assess the economic aspects of technical advice given, or farm management skills for keeping records and allocating the use of farm resources and equipment.
The transfer of knowledge and skills to farmers and their families is an important extension activity and that is why the Ghanaian Times views with keen interest the announcement that COCOBOD is to employ 1,300 extension officers to support cocoa farmers across the country.
We hold the view that this decision has been long in coming because agricultural experts have noticed the shortage of such officers and have for a considerable long time been calling on government to employ more of them.
We are happy though that finally, clearance has been given for the recruitment of the officers which obviously is going to boost agricultural extension service delivery in the country
For us, the recruitment is timely and we urge government to be consistent in future recruitment of such officers not only for the benefit of the farmers but to ensure the steady growth of the agricultural sector.