BY SAMUEL NABWIISO
Uganda’s economy is highly dependant on the Agriculture sector which is a combination of crops, Livestock, poultry and fisheries, making it the largest employer of many Ugandans especially Women, Youth and the elderly.
For the sector to play its role, farmers need much support from both government and Non State actors to offer Agricultural Extensions Services which play a key role in supporting Small Holder farmers to improve on Agricultural productions in all the Agricultural sub sectors.
According to farmers especially the Smallholder farmers, most of the services being offered at the local governments are identifying good Agricultural inputs, how to prepare the garden and the applications of modern technologies in the Agriculture Sector.
However, farmers especially those under substance farming urge that the deployed Extension Services providers at the lower Local Governments are of less importance to them because of their mode of Information dissemination to the local farmers.
Margret Masudio the Secretary for Publicity at the Eastern and Southern Africa Small Holder Farmers Forum – EASSAFF – Uganda Chapter told this web site during the Uganda National Agricultural Extension Services week that was held at the Kampala Kabila Country Club that most of the Agricultural Extension Services providers are focusing on offering extension services aimed at promoting Conventional Production System.
“As Smallholder farmers, we appreciate government because it has done some work as far as extending Agricultural Extension services to farmers in Uganda however, our query is on the issue of the information being provided to farmers the extension services providers which aims at promoting conventional farming practices yet majority Ugandan farmers are small holder farmers who can’t afford to adopt the system,” said Masudio.
Masaudio observed that for Agricultural extension services to be relevant to all the players in the sector there’re need for integration of Agroecology farming syststens in the Agricultural Extension Services across the Country.
“Our extension services providers both at the district and Subcounty should integrate Organic farming production systems in the Agricultural production Extension services systems in the Agriculture sector because the system of production can be easily adopted by Smallholder farmers compared to the conventional farming system practices that have been highly promoted, noted Masudio.
The farmer from the West Nile Region of Uganda further noted that Agriculture Extension Services should Integrate the Agroecology farming systems in the Extensions Services.
She says that most farmers are ignorant about Agroecology farming yet its less costly to farmers.
Agroecology farming practices, encompass the relationship between agricultural production systems and ecological processes.
It includes all the techniques that allow agricultural practices to be more respectful of the environment and its ecological specificities.
Moses Magoola , a Professional Agricultural Extension Services Provider also supported the argument of the Smallholder farmers.
“Most of the Agricultural Extension Services providers at the local Government are focusing more on conventional farming practices but the system is not Convertible to majority players in the sector,” said Magoola.
Why the Farmers’ call for the introduction of Agroecology in the Agricultural Extension Services?
According to the farmers, the Integration of Agroecology in the Agriculture Extension will enable Ugandan farmers to produce organically farmed Agricultural products ranging from crops , Livestock, Poultry among other products.
Responding on the farmer’s plea Connie Acanyo the Commissioner Communication at the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries told this website that farmers have a right to choose which information they need from the Extension Services providers.
“All our recruited Extension Agricultural Services providers should support our farmer to adopt the farming system of their choice including that of Agroecology as long as it will transform them economically. Their interest should be accepted and the Agricultural Extension officers should guide them on how the system operates for them to benefit from of it,” said Acayo said.
Agricultural Extension Services providers play a vital role in the growth of the Agriculture sector which is the largest employer of many Ugandan’s.
The sector contributes about 27 % of the Country’s Gross Domestic Product, however for this sector to grow the sector needs professionals to guide them on how to effectively participate in the sector especially at the production level.
In Uganda, the Government has been focusing more on the development of Conventional farming systems of production which it hopes will enhance Agricultural production.