By Francis Emorut
KAMPALA - Government is set to admit students at the National Farmers Leadership Centre by early 2014, the executive director of National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Dr. Samuel Mugasi has revealed.
The institution that is under construction occupies 50 acres of land given by Government at Kampiringisa, a former children’s rehabilitation centre in Mpigi district.
Mugasi disclosed that the aim of the Farmers Centre is to build the capacity of trainers to impart skills and knowledge to the upcoming farmers using the Korean model.
“We shall begin taking students in early 2014, building capacity of trainers and change the mindset of farmers to aim at large scale farming,” Mugasi told academicians, civic leaders and members of civil society organisations.
This was during the national roundtable dialogue on the NAADS programme at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Tuesday.
The roundtable dialogue was organized by Oxfam GB in partnership with Uganda National NGO Forum, Foundation for Urban Rural Advancement and Kitgum Women Peace Initiative.
Mugasi was responding to concerns by participants that agricultural extension workers have not created much impact on farmers.
He said Government is in the process of streamlining extension services to provide an effective and efficient service delivery system.
He also mentioned that his agency is introducing information communication technology in research linkages so as to help farmers use appropriate technology as well as setting up a portal to allow farmers access information about NAADs programmes on website.
The NAADs boss backed the use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), saying that it was inevitable due to ecosystem and climate change.
“We must appreciate that globally climatic conditions are changing and we have new micro-organism and strange diseases and therefore, it’s inevitable that we must change to overcome these barriers and take on new varieties rather than being stuck on the past,” he said.
“With cross border infections, we can’t afford to live in the past but embrace new varieties of organisms in order to survive.”
The executive director of Uganda National NGO Forum, Dr. Richard Ssewakiryanga noted that there is need to debate more about GMOs as there are contradicting statements about their effects globally by scientists.
“The debate on GMOs globally is leading to an uncertain direction on how far we should go GMO way. There is need to debate more about it proactively rather than threatening to deregistering organisations who are opposed to it,” Ssewakiryanga said.
Participants emphasized the need to involve community in monitoring NAADS programmes so as to promote good governance and social accountability.