Print

The Ugandan government has setup a committee to begin reviewing agriculture extension services to reach farmers better after identifying various contradictions in the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) program set up in 2001.

The committee has began work and is expected to come up with a better model, according the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Hon Tress Bucyanayandi.

"We are embarking on institutional reforms. NAADS was a project supposed to transform agriculture and help us. I think some of the decisions taken at that time may have been correct but they have been tested and are not working today," the Minister said during the Agriculture and Food Security Forum on the theme, "Unlocking the export potential of Uganda's agriculture sector," held on June 6, 2013 at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Uganda.

It is expected that reforms may include privatization of funding, delivery of extension services, and decentralization of authority to lower levels of government, including delegation to NGOs and farmer organizations.

Agricultural extension has been hotly debated since the implementation of NAADS program in 2001. Conceived as a demand-driven approach and largely publicly funded with services provided by the private sector, the NAADS program targets the development and use of farmer institutions.

Hon Bucyanayandi outlined several contradictions in extension services including the hire and fire concept and parallel extension services, which created an unhealthy competition.

For instance, NAADS was founded on the principle that small farmers would demand for extension services, which was grossly an oversight. "To expect a small farmer to look for an extension worker for those services was expecting too much," the Minister said.

Another concept that was being tried but didn't seem to work was the 'hire and fire.' Under the concept an extension worker was hired for a short time—two years—that did not work out.

" In extension, you need some kind of rapport. You need that kind of relationship between an extension worker and the farmer. So, two years isn't enough," Hon Bucyanayandi said.

The third element that was also tried and appeared not to function as well was the expectation that a small farmer would contribute towards hiring of the extension worker.
And that even local government would supplement.

Again that practice, did not work because the small farmers didn't have the money. Parallel extension services also created an unhealthy competition.