By Moses Okoed
THE National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) started as a farmer led Agricultural service delivery system targeting the poor subsistence farmers with major focus on women, youth and people living with disabilities.
The programme was intended to increase on the effectiveness of Agricultural extension services under Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA). As we are aware that the programme also aimed at increasing food security, to improve on the nutrition and increase house hold incomes.
In reference to the studies that have been conducted by Uganda Debt Network on the Beneficiary assessment on NAADS in 2010, Review of the NAADS phase II implementation guide lines, the Needs assessment that was conducted in 2011 and the duplication of roles of local government officials in Agriculture.
These studies generated a number of good and bad things on the implementation of the NAADS programme and among some of them included;
While the roles of key LG extension officers are crucial, to farmers, there is no proper coordination of activities of the District NAADS Coordinators, the District Agricultural Officers, District Veterinary Officer, District Financial Officer and the District Commercial Officers under the production department in the Local governments.
This current structure creates redundancy of production officers who has the same qualification with the District Agricultural Officer thus this has resulted into duplication of work.
So there for, the President’s pronouncement to sack all the district NAADs coordinators, during celebrations to mark 28 years of NRM victory held in Mayuge District is a sign of sense of direction to avoid wastage of billions of tax payers’ resources on projects that have not yielded any fruit but rather benefited individuals in positions of influence.
This pronouncement on the matter should not be a surprise to the people of Uganda in the way that, remember in 2008, after releasing billions of monies to the districts for the implementation of the programme, the president again suspended the programme activities due to a number of reports of corruption by the implementers, that was exhibited in overpricing of inputs, lack of accountability measures and poor procurement process that was not transparent.
The decision by the President to restructure NAADS will improve on the Programme’s performance.
At the local government level, the District Agricultural Office is far much competent to handle and coordinate NAADs activities very well since this department is full of redundant and yet technical staff who are under employed.
To achieve this, the Government may need to reconsider devicing mechanisms to motivate the Agricultural officers to do their work.
There is need now for the Government to put in place stringent mechanisms to ensure quality assurance in the implementation of the NAADs programme and be result oriented.
The suggestion by the President that, since the civilians have failed the NAADS programme, there is need now to involve the veterans and the UPDF perform a key role in the programme implementation, is not the right approach.
In Ministry of Agriculture, there a number of technical people who are in position to handle the tasks in NAADs rather than bringing in the army who may also create problem of proper planning and the implementation of the programme guidelines.
The Government in ensuring better implementation of the programme should open up spaces to community participation and involvement in the programme implementation.
This should start with creating a conducive environment for civil society participation through monitoring of service delivery. There is also need for the public to appreciate government’s efforts by owning the projects that have been given to them because if there is no ownership, the programme will still fail.
Writer works with Uganda Debt Network