“When knowledge empowers you, challenges are not problems.”
The Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE) is a sister organisation of SAA, with a focus on providing academic qualifications to mid-career extension agents. So far, SAFE has graduated nearly 6,000 students across a network of 24 universities and colleges in nine African countries. The first SAFE program in Nigeria was launched in 2002 at Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in Zaria. The purpose of the SAFE program in Nigeria is to contribute towards the agricultural development efforts of the country through the production of qualified human resources in the fi eld of agricultural extension advisory services – to the benefit of smallholder farm families. Currently, SAFE has five programs in the following universities: ABU in Zaria, Bayero University Kano (BUK) in Kano, Adamawa State University (Adamawa), University of Illorin (Illorin) and Usmanu Danfodiyo University (in Sokoto).
SAFE started Bayero University’s program in 2007. Students come from Kano state and others, including: Adamawa, Tarawa, Borno, Gombe, and Illorin.
Garba Abdullahi is a third year mid-career student at BUK, currently implementing his Supervised Enterprise Projects (SEPs). Prior to his enrollment at BUK, Garba obtained a Higher National Diploma (HND) and worked as an agricultural extension agent with the Agricultural Development Project (ADP). He explained: “SAFE’s intervention here means indirectly helping millions of Nigerians towards food security, because nowadays at least 80% of my colleagues have a HND. They need the opportunity to come where I am because with just that HND they cannot bridge the gap. That’s why we are appealing to continue funding SAFE’s programs; so that many more people can join. I have a lot of confi dence that when I go back to my community I will implement better practices than in the past. I am learning here that, yes, the challenges are bigger and the answers are different. But when knowledge empowers you, challenges are not problems and we can solve them and empower our community in return. With this experience now when I go back to my SEPs in the community, we will change the format and improve the system.”
Patience Kantomah is a fi rst-year student pursuing her BSc in Agricultural Extension. She graduated in 2012 from Kaduna Polytechnic, department of Agricultural Engineering. She went on to work for a private school in Kaduna state. She said: “I had initially planned to apply for a post-graduate course in education, until somebody suggested that I register for the SAFE program instead. When I was admitted, I realized how beneficial the program would be to my field, developing my experience as an agricultural engineer in soil and water with additional knowledge of agricultural extension. Through SAFE’s program, and with detailed knowledge of agricultural extension, I will be able to deliver more for the people in my community; particularly those who are struggling in agriculture, by sharing best practices. A major challenge is that I am one of only three females in the class, but I believe that with subsequent admissions in the coming years, increasing numbers of women will enroll in the program so that more hands will come together in making the extension program a success.”