Government has sent home all staff of National Agriculture Advisory Services (Naads) at districts.
The government ordered that Naads staff whose contracts have expired should not be renewed and those with running contracts be terminated immediately.
Mr Tress Buchanayandi, the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, said the sacked staff will be replaced with agricultural extension workers in the new Naads restructuring reforms passed by Cabinet.
Apparently, government has been employing one Naads staff at every district and two at each sub-county. This translates to 112 district Naads coordinators and about 2,728 Naads sub-county coordinators at all the 1,364 sub-counties (LCIIIs) and 2,728 agricultural advisory service providers. That brings the total number of affected staff to 5,568.
Saturday Monitor has learnt that contracts of district Naads staff expired on June 30.
“.... as a matter of urgency, a circular letter should be issued to local governments stopping the renewal of contracts of all Naads staff and those having running contracts be issued with notice of termination letters,” Mr Buchanayandi wrote to the Ministry of Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Mr Vincent Rubarema, and Naads Executive Director on July 1.
The minister directed that qualified Naads staff shall however be interviewed for reabsorption in the unified system.
Mr Bucyanayandi also directed that a national task force be appointed to implement modalities of a Cabinet decision of streamlining single spine extension system from the centre to local governments, restructure Naads secretariat into a lean one as per Cabinet directive. He said soldiers will manage input distribution and support services.
Other roles to be implemented by the national Naads task force will be to harmonise agricultural budgets located in different ministries and agencies and expedite review of Naads laws to redefine the role of the Secretariat.
Mr Bucyanayandi’s letter, which was copied to Local Government, Finance, Prime Minister and Agriculture ministries also directed that some senior officers on full time basis will be assigned duties of director agricultural extension to coordinate local governments.
The Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Vincent Rubarema, said in an interview on Thursday they want to reform agricultural extension from the project model to a permanent and pensionable structure.
Mr Anthony Wanyoto, the Naads communication officer, however said they had not received an official communication from the Ministry of Agriculture on the new reforms. He said they would continue providing agricultural advisory services as passed by Parliament until advised otherwise.
“Naads staff are employed by the district service commission and we have no say on them. We haven’t got official communication as per the new reforms and we will continue operating until advised otherwise,” he said.
During Heroes Day celebrations in Mityana last month, President Yoweri Museveni said he was going to restructure Naads and sack its coordinators. He said he would deploy a soldier in each constituency to monitor the government’s agricultural programmes. The President cited the success of the Luweero triangle projects that Gen Salim Saleh and Brig Proscovia Nalweyiso had been supervising as the benchmark for deploying soldiers to manage the programme throughout the country.