By Francis Emorut
There is need for mindset change for farmers if they are to engage in commercial agriculture, which will spur economic development, a National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) official has said.
Dr. Francis Byekwaso, planning manager at NAADS secretariat pointed out that countries such as Japan, South Korea and China have transformed their economies as a result of mindset change of its people.
“The biggest challenge we have as a country is of leaders and farmers who don’t want to change their mindset into new methods of agriculture,” Byekwaso said
“We need to see changes in agriculture and MPs and agricultural leaders should be at the forefront to transform agriculture,” he stated.
He informed an audience that it was for this reason government set up a national farmers leadership centre for mindset transformation.
He said farmers need to change their thinking from subsistence farming to commercial agriculture.
Byekwaso said government is working on a system of seed production to ensure that poor farmers as well as farmers associations have access to improved seeds.
The NAADS official was addressing farmers, researchers and members of civil society during a national dialogue on financing agricultural extension services in Uganda at Hotel Africana in Kampal.
The dialogue was organized by Civil Society Advocacy Group.
The planning manager urged civil society organisations to devise practical ways of improving agricultural extension services rather than dwelling on theory.
“There is a tendency of focusing on theory instead of pursuing practical strategies,” he said.
Sophie Nampewo, a research officer at ACODE stressed the need for integrating traditional extension services with NAADS programme to minimize resource and service duplication.
'Not enough training'
She pushed for the need to improved feedback channels between farmers and research organizations.
Her emphasis was also on the need to empower farmers on their expectations on agricultural extension services.
Kapelebyong MP Peter Eriaku noted that the training offered by NAADS was not adequate enough to empower a farmer into large scale production.
“What do you expect a farmer to learn in one or three days’ training?” he wondered.
The legislator pointed out that there was no way farmers will be in position to increase their household income if they lacked skills and knowledge on how to explore agricultural opportunities.
He talked of the need to revolutionize agriculture since the country’s economy is based on agriculture.
“We should do what it takes to strengthen agricultural sector in value addition, market access and production,” he said.
Eriaku, who is also the vice chairperson of the defence parliamentary committee, emphasized the need to build the capacity of a farmer beyond one day or two days of training.