Proposed changes in the strategy of National Agriculture and Advisory Services (Naads) programme implementation may leave hundreds of the staff at district and sub-county levels jobless.
While in Mbarara on Tuesday, the State minister for Agriculture in charge of Fisheries, Ms Ruth Nankabirwa, said effective next year, Naads is going to be implemented using what she called “single spine structure” of agriculture extension service providers.
This means that agricultural extension workers at the districts will be amalgamated into a new system and will be controlled by the Naads directorate.
Currently, there are traditional extension workers and Naads Coordinators. The latter category takes lead in the implementation of the programme meant to increase production and marketing in order to actualise the government’s prosperity-for-all dream.
There is a Naads Coordinator at every district and three at every sub-county. These work on contracts and have better remuneration and work tools than the agriculture extension workers which arrangement Ms Nankabirwa said “caused problems”.
Concern has always been raised that the programme, largely funded by the World Bank, is not creating the desired economic impact as was projected.
“We want to begin the financial year following a single spine structure of agriculture services delivery system.
But we want to have minimum causalities. We will ask district service commissions to always give first priority to those who have been working in Naads when recruiting,” Ms Nankabirwa said during the meeting with the Naads coordinators and extension workers in the district.
She said four pillars, food security, marketing and value addition, and rural financial system will continue to get government attention through a streamlined structure.
A statement from State House in March last year quoted President Museveni saying Naads “had not lived to expectations” and the money will be directed towards strengthening Savings and Credit Cooperative Organisations (Saccos).