Sleeping extension workers my next target â€“ Museveni
While closing the annual Source of the Nile National Agriculture and Trade Show in Jinja over the weekend, President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the patron of the Uganda National Farmers Federation, criticised agricultural extension
While closing the annual Source of the Nile National Agriculture and Trade Show in Jinja over the weekend, President Yoweri Museveni, who is also the patron of the Uganda National Farmers Federation, criticised agricultural extension workers over their continued poor performance which is denying rural farmers crucial information that would help them improve their output. Below are highlights of the presidentâ€™s speech.
Sleeping extension workers
While extension workers are supposed to formulate, develop, implement and evaluate agricultural extension programmes along with guiding farmers on managing resources, many are not committed to causing change.
We have degree holding extension workers at sub-county level, but they are asleep. We have extension staff for agriculture, forestry and veterinary. They are going to become my next target if I go to a sub-county and find that knowledge is lacking among the farmers.
Nominal knowledge about improved seeds and animals is an indicator of the laxity among extension workers. Some of the improved seeds like coffee were introduced about 30 years ago although a large proportion of the farming population remains oblivious of their availability on the market.
The same applies to maize, which has 14 improved varieties and beans with 16 improved varieties.
The National Agricultural Research Organisation (NARO) has research institutes in all regions and these have been developing improved varieties of seeds that suit location conditions.
Today, we have improved seeds for colonial coffee, bananas, simism, ground nuts, soya beans, sunflower, cotton, sorghum and horticulture. We also introduced improved livestock. We now have better breeds of cows, goats, pigs and chicken.
The problem has been propagating them, but extension workers, who are employed to do that, only extend to bars.
Government employees should be able to tell people about the improved seeds and animals. I appeal to politicians, religious and traditional leaders to disseminate information that can help the farmers shift from traditional to modern practices.
Use of fertilisers
The use of fertilisers is still low. Farmers are mostly using organic fertilisers, which are good but we also need manufactured fertilisers to push up production.
The agriculture minister, Tress Buchanyande, is to convene a meeting of all seed companies to formulate a system that will ensure that rural farmers access improved seeds.
The ministry is also working out modalities of minimising post-harvest losses through establishment of warehouses, as was provided for in the running budget.
Sub-counties as value addition centres
The strategy is to use sub-counties as centres of value addition through equipping them with the necessary machinery. The system has already been piloted on milk and plans are underway to adopt the same system for maize, rice and other crops.
The sub-counties will have maize mills, rice haulers and oil extractors provided either by the Government or private sector for the convenience of farmers.
In response to the unpredictable rain patterns, the Government is working out a scheme for providing water for all-year-round agricultural production as well as refurbishment and development of large irrigation projects.
Attention has also been drawn to adopting solar and wind water pumps.
Smallholder farmers must diversify their enterprises in order to increase their earnings. Have perennial crops on farm to boost your incomes. The medium-sized farmers should do specialised farming to create a distinction.
The Eastern region is endowed with numerous swamps which can be used to establish aquaculture projects. Fish should be domesticated to widen our production.
Fighting tsetse flies
Farmers should use cows sprayed with deltamethrin as killing trap for tsetse flies.
Synthetic pyrethroid pesticide, which that can stay on an animal for two weeks in the dry season and one week during the rainy season, not only kills tsetse flies but other biting insects including ticks.
This is something I personally experimented with when I camped in Bandegi in Teso region while fighting the Joseph Kony bandits. It proved very successful.
Developing the Jinja show ground to international standards
A presidential pledge to develop the showground to international standards to be followed up.
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