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CSOs call for strengthening of agricultural extension workers

By Jeff Andrew Lule

Added 30th January 2017 12:23 PM

About 38% of the agriculture budget goes to Operation Wealth Creation yet little is done to help farmers

About 38% of the agriculture budget goes to Operation Wealth Creation yet little is done to help farmers

Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have called on Government to strengthen agricultural extension workers country wide if Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) is to make an impact in communities.

They claim that OWC workers only distribute seeds and inputs without giving farmers extension guidance.

This was during a budget dialogue organized by Ministry of Finance and Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) at Makerere University in Kampala.

"People are only given seeds without extension guidance. Government needs to strengthen these workers with a clear budget for them to do their work effectively," the executive director Food Rights Alliance, Agnes Kirabo noted.

She noted that about 38% of the agriculture budget goes to OWC yet they do very little to help farmers.

She said extension workers are crucial in assisting farmers to make right choices on top of learning new technologies.

The CSBAG executive director of, Julius Mukunda said government needs to prioritize where it injects funds.

He questioned the sh10bn for hoes and sh20bn to capitalize Uganda Broadcasting Cooperation (UBC) among others as indicated in the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) FY2017/18.

"Today people do not need hoes because they already have them. People need better agricultural facilities and extension services to improve production. Investing in UBC is a waste, let them just sell it off to a private individual to make profits than just investing in it" he said.

Mukunda said Uganda has enough resources to implement its programs but "the problem is implementation and choice of programs."

"Let them adequately facilitate the recruitment of agricultural extension workers at all levels. Linkages should also be demonstrated between OWC and Local Government structures to ease services" he said.

Government last year started the recruitment of 2000 extension workers as part of the newly formulated National Agriculture Extension Policy. Among the workers to be recruited include; fisheries officer, agricultural officers, veterinary officers, entomologists among others.

Mukunda highlighted the inadequate performance and delivery on water for production, saying something needs to be done to address the issue of drought.

The group recommended that the Agriculture Credit Facility be shifted from Bank of Uganda (BoU) to Uganda Development Bank (UDB) with simplified terms to allow farmers at various levels access funds.  

The Director Budget, in the Ministry of Finance, Kenneth Mugambe said they have already raised concern on how OWC does its work.

"We are seeing a lot of inefficiencies in the way they deliver their services. We have already written a performance report on their way of operation" he said.

Mugambe said government has also embarked on a Program Based Financing to effect service delivery and fight corruption.

"We want to make sure that funds are used on set targets. Corruption is as a result of poor systems but we believe with this new approach we shall be able to monitor each and every program" he noted.

He explained that government has also made its priorities for the 2017/18 financial year including; intervention in accessing water for production for agriculture, access trod rough resistant crops, promoting value addition and improving infrastructure around tourism sites.

That and putting in place the required infrastructure for the development of the oil and gas sector, and routine maintenance of all roads among others.

Patrick Muganda, a dairy farmer from Mbarara, said there is need for an inclusive sustainable growth if the country needs to attain the middle income status.

Edward Ndyahabwe, head of Masindi district NGO forum, said government needs to address the issue of land, saying many people have been left landless and have no land to cultivate from.  

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