The National Agricultural and Land Development Agency (NALDA) says it has received approval from the federal government to employ 30,000 agricultural and other science graduates into the agency.


The recruitment is necessary to train graduates who will be in charge of soil sample collection and soil tests, and will also render extension services to farmers under the National Young Farmers Scheme launched by President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2020.


The Executive Secretary of NALDA, Paul Ikonne, announced this on Monday in Abuja while briefing journalists on the activities of the agency, Daily Trust reported.


Mr Paul Ikonne explained that it is essential to understand soil requirements as this is important in achieving food security in the country.


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

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


The National Agricultural and Land Development Agency (NALDA) is one of the federal government agencies saddled with the responsibility of harnessing the full potential of the vast arable land in Nigeria, empowering smallholder and large-scale farmers, as well as supporting the drive of food security.


The agency recently launched an initiative called National Young Farmers’ Scheme to engage 1,000 youth in each of the 774 local councils in agriculture.


Mr Ikonne said 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.


Mr Ikonne said the process of employment which has commenced, will be done in collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Soil Science, and state governments


He said farmers will per N500 per soil sample collected and analysed.

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