By Ronald Kalyango
THE Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries has disbanded the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) programme structures in all the districts to pave way for the implementation of the single spine extension system.
According to the agriculture minister; Tress Bucyanayandi, the move is aimed at reducing on the amount of money previously squandered on wages, workshops and seminars.
The agriculture ministry made the communication to the coordinators through the chief administrative officers on 7th, July, 2014 in a letter seen by The New vision.
“Expiring contracts for all NAADS staff should not be renewed while those who still have running contracts should be issued with notice of termination of contract, within the appropriate provisions of their contracts,” reads the letter in parts.
It was authored by the ministry’s permanent secretary; Vincent Rubarema addressing it to all the district local governments informing them about the imminent implementation of the directives.
“The purpose of this letter is to convey to the District Local Governments the immediate measures required for transition to the single spine agricultural extension system,” reads the letter.
With an estimated 1,364 sub-counties including the five divisions of Kampala Capital City Authority, it means the move to disband the programme is going to affect about 4,204 technical people.
President Museveni visiting Mr Matia Magimbi, a model farmer of Kikumaddungu village in Lugusu sub-county in Sembabule district. PHOTO/PPU
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.
Rubarema has directed the district service commissions to embark on the recruitment process of veterinary, agriculture and fisheries (where applicable) officers to provide farmers with the needed information on their agricultural undertakings.
In addition, an entomologist should be recruited per district to fill the existing gaps in particular districts.
Rubarema, however, says that all qualified NAADS staff shall be interviewed for absorption into the single spine extension system.
District service commissions have also been instructed to immediately advertise for all established vacant posts at the districts.
Single spine extension system
Bucyanayandi in an earlier interview with The new vision explained that the single spine extension system that has been developed will be the Uganda Agricultural Extension Service.
The idea is to make agricultural extension work more efficient to avoid duplication.
Extension workers are experts who advise farmers to improve their agricultural practices like crop failures, livestock diseases, pests and vectors.
They are also supposed to provide agricultural statistics, regulatory services, agricultural planning and quality assurance for food security.
“We are currently duplicating. There was also a disparity in resource allocation, with extension services being relegated that is why a new project Agricultural Technology and Agribusiness Advisory Services project, was developed to strengthen research and extension,” he said.
“We realized that once research is strengthened, it generates technology; and when extension is strengthened it leads to proper transmission of agricultural technologies to farmers,” he added.
The minister has also instructed the permanent secretary to appoint a National Task force to streamline the single spine extension system from the centre to the local governments as per the cabinet's directive.
The task force is supposed to restructure NAADS secretariat with the overall objective of reducing on the number of the current staff.
Currently the secretariat constitutes of over 70 employees but according to sources, cabinet wants a smaller secretariat of about 15 people with expertise in crop and animal husbandry as well as value addition.
The taskforce is also supposed to develop a clear mechanism that should be followed in the management of input distribution and support services of the army officers.
The task force is also supposed to develop a financial coordination mechanism for the agricultural resources scattered across ministries and agencies.
It is also supposed to expedite the reviewing of the NAADS Act 2001 and redefine the role of the NAADS secretariat regarding supporting of value addition and agricultural input supply as per the cabinet decision.
They are also supposed to re-organise the ministry of agriculture headquarters structure to integrate the newly formulated directorate of extension.
The ministry is supposed to appoint a director of agricultural extension to immediately start coordination with the local governments and organise for establishment of the new directorate.
The Kabarole district chairperson, Richard Rwabuhinga, however noted that unlike in other districts where the programme has failed, in Kabarole, they have registered great strides.
“I support the reforms but they should be aimed at rewarding coordinators who have performed well like in Kabarole. I propose that good coordinators should be absorbed into the new system because we are not sure that those who failed in other districts will do a better job,” he explained during a phone interview.
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NAADS district structure disbanded