Limited extension services hurting agriculture sector
Posted Friday, October 18 2013 at 01:00
Access. Only 30 per cent of farmers have access to extension services in the country.
Inadequate access to agricultural extension information is constraining farmers’ ability to produce to their optimal capacity, agriculture expers say.
Agriculture provides a livelihood to the biggest segment of the population, but has been labelled the worst performing sector according to a civil society group. According to sector experts, lack of proper standards in provision of agricultural extension services largely explains the distorted information farmers are routinely accessing, eroding rather their yields and productivity.
“I can tell you that farmers are getting information from anybody, including from people who have no idea of what they are talking about,” the focal person of Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory services (UFAAS), Ms Beatrice Luzobe, said yesterday in Kampala. She added: “And this affects farmers’ decision because in most cases, they just take what they have been told by all these people, only to be affected later through poor yields.”
The farmers who do not receive the right extension services to improve their yields and methods of farming are not any better than those who are treated to half-baked information from unqualified extension workers. “From our field reports, only 30 per cent of farmers have access to extension services and the remaining 70 per cent are not covered,” the vice chairperson of Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS), Mr Augustine Mwendya, said ahead of the conference for Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Stakeholders next week between October 23 and 24.
Agriculture, although is retrogressing compared to other economic sectors, according to Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSABAG) previous year’s report, it remains the only economic sector that provides livelihood to the majority of the country’s population.
And for that, academicians like Prof Anthony Mugisha, the dean at the School of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Resource, argues that agricultural advisers bridge the gap between the farmers, researchers (academicians) and extension service providers. “To get rid of all the challenges in the sector, there must be a linkage between what the academicians are doing, the farmers and extension service providers—and UFAAS is best suited to provide that forum,” said the good Mr Mugisha.
Mr Max Opolot, an expert on agricultural extension services, said the linkages, in agricultural extension services should go beyond giving farming inputs to linking the farmers to the market or else the use of such services without exhausting the value chain become meaningless.