By Ronald Kalyango
THE agriculture minister, Tress Bucyanayandi has explained that the role of army officers deployed in constituencies is mainly to monitor proper distribution of agricultural farm inputs among the beneficiary farmers, and not to provide technical advice to farmers.
"They will be there to monitor and ensure that government interventions reach the beneficiaries so that the desired impact on the farming communities is realised," noted Bucyanayandi.
He was on Thursday briefing the press about the ongoing restructuring process of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala.
"We have been purchasing agricultural farm inputs but the end users were being cheated by technical officers. The army will help us monitor their distribution and then technical officers will be required to advise farmers on the recommended agronomic practices," said Bucyanayandi.
"The restructured system will embrace actors from both public and private sectors to participate in the delivery of agricultural extension services, in a more organised and coordinated manner," he added.
On July, 7th, 2014 the ministry disbanded the NAADS structures in the districts to pave way for the implementation of the single spine extension system.
With an estimated 1,364 sub-counties including the five divisions of Kampala Capital City Authority, it means the move to disband the programme has affected about 4,204 technical people.
All the 112 districts including Kampala have overall NAADS coordinators, sub-county NAADS coordinators while at the sub-county level, two service providers with expertise in crops and livestock had been recruited to provide technical advises to farmers.
NAADS coordinators at the district level have hitherto been earning an estimated net income of about sh2m.
He explained that agricultural inputs required by farmers will, primarily be handled by the private sector.
The minister also pointed out that the NAADS secretariat will be restructured into a lean one and officers with expertise in crop, animal, fish and value chain agribusiness will be retained.
According to sources, a technical committee headed by agriculture ministry's Permanent secretary, Vincent Rubarema wants to retain about 10 technical staff at the secretariat.
The retained officers, Bucyanayandi explained that will be limited to procurement of value addition equipment to support strategic interventions in agriculture such as seedlings and breeding stock.
He also said a directorate of extension has been established at the ministry headquarters in Entebbe to coordinate agricultural extension service delivery both in the public and private sectors.
“The district local governments have been notified to fill vacant established posts in the department of production and marketing which were earlier approved by ministry of the public service," said Bucyanayandi.
At the sub-county level, districts have been directed to recruit agriculture, veterinary and customized officers in fisheries and entomology.
The minister, however, noted that all NAADS coordinators staff willing to continue with their previous services, should be interviewed for absorption into the department of production and marketing.
Implementation of the NAADS programme started in 2001, however, Politicians, civil society organisation have blamed the programme for spending most of its resources on salaries and allowances.
President Yoweri Museveni as a result was forced to suspend its operations twice in 2007 and 2010 but the resultant changes did not lead to any improvement in the delivery of the extension services.
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Army to monitor distribution of agriculture inputs