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  • David Oming

Agroecology a key drive in delivering the Agricultural Extension in Uganda

The Government of Uganda adopted an agricultural extension reform dubbed ‘Single Spine Extension System’ in June 2014 and restructured the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) that had hitherto been implementing a demand-driven agricultural extension and advisory services delivery model for more than a decade. The National Agricultural Extension Policy (NAEP) 2016 and the National Agricultural Extension Strategy (NAES) 2016/2017-2020/2021 were formulated by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) and approved by Cabinet.

Uganda needs to establish and strengthen a sustainable farmer-centered agricultural extension system for increased productivity, household incomes, and exports. The new policy provisions as provided for in NDP III necessitate that the new strategy should put into consideration all actors along the entire value chain. The policy advocated for a pluralistic approach to extension services delivery with the public extension system at the heart of the delivery system. The policy was adopted to address the underlying agricultural development challenges linked to production, markets, and governance. It is a recognized fact that no country has undergone an agricultural revolution without a well-functioning agricultural extension system and strong farmer organizations. The current NAES expired and the government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) is in the process of developing a new 5 years Strategy.

However, Agricultural extension services are under constant pressure to be responsive to the ever-growing demands of the agro-industrialization agenda and the demand for a safe healthy, and nutritious, food system approach and food produced in a sustainable production system. Therefore, the review of the agricultural extension strategy 2016 is timely to respond to these demands and strategically position the agricultural sector and livelihood of the actors along with the agricultural systems.

On 13th June 2022, small-scale farmers from the different regions of Uganda converged in Kampala and discussed the issues that should feature in the NAES. The issues came from the current extension in their districts, challenges and achievements of the NAES that ended.

On 17th June 2022 in Kampala, small-scale farmers from the different regions again met to present to the Consultant that is developing the strategy. Their proposals were considered among the key issues in the NAES development.

Small-scale farmers’ proposals presented for inclusion into the National Agricultural Extension Strategy include the following;

  1. Scaling up agroecology in extension and advisory services

  2. Integrate Farmer Field School (FFS) approach in the Strategy as a mode of extension amongst small-scale farmers.

  3. Recruit and retool extension service providers.

  4. Build resilience and adaptation to climate change and other natural disasters like pest and disease outbreaks.

  5. Guarantee quality and standards for agro-products.

  6. Protection of land rights, especially for women and youths

  7. Prioritizing extension and advisory services in the Parish Development Model (PDM)

  8. Integrating and Information Communications Technology (ICT) in extension and advisory services

  9. Partnership with small-scale farmers and small-scale farmer organizations

Similarly on 20th June 2022, Eastern and Southern Africa small-scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF) Uganda and other Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) met and discussed issues for inclusion into the NAES. ESAFF Uganda used this meeting to share the issues from small-scale farmers as CSOs input into the NAES.

During this meeting, CSOs came up with these points for consideration by the NAES Consultants for inclusion. The points are;

  1. Inclusion of agroecological and organic practices in the NAES.

  2. Targeting market for small-scale farmers in the new strategy

  3. The inclusion of the different models that have been tested and proven as providing farmers with an extension including the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach.

  4. Partnership with farmers and farmer organizations.

  5. Recruiting and retooling extension workers.

The National Chairperson ESAFF Uganda, Hakim Baliraine said that in the development of the extension strategy, there is need to critically look at the contributions of Agroecology and organic agriculture as they are key in providing extension services.

He added that small-scale farmers’ issues need to be incorporated into the strategy and also actively involved in the implementation of the developed strategy. “Agriculture remains an important sector to the development of the citizens of Uganda hence the need for government to take actions that can make a rapid turnaround in agricultural productivity growth”. Mr. Hakim noted.



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