A new study by Caritas Uganda, an arm of Uganda Episcopal Conference/ Uganda Catholic Secretariat together with the Uganda Farmers Common Voice Platform highlights a co-relation between agricultural extension services and the performance of other sectors of the economy in Uganda such as Health, Trade and Industry, Water and Environment.
Unveiled last week, the report titled ‘A desk study to ascertain the cost of agricultural extension to performance of key productive sectors of the economy besides agriculture’ was conducted by the Department of Agribusiness and Natural Resource Economics College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Makerere University on behalf of Caritas Uganda. The study was set out to provide evidence on the benefits of Agricultural Extension to the performance of key productive sectors of the economy besides agriculture to include trade and industry, health and water and environment.
Speaking during a Press Conference held to release the findings of the study, Ms. Aguti Betty Rose – The Policy and Advocacy Specialist, Caritas Uganda said, ‘In Uganda, agriculture is the backbone of the economy and is dominated by small holder farmers who occupy majority of the arable land and produce most of the crop and livestock products, with most households directly or indirectly deriving their livelihood from the sector. However, much as the agricultural sector is crucial to Uganda’s economy, it is still faced with challenges such as inadequate financing, unpredictable weather and minimal agricultural extension services. Currently, the number of farmers accessing agricultural extension is reported to range between 14 – 17%., while 40 – 50% access advisory services from fellow farmers and 25% access services via radio. The National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADs) is estimated to reach about 17% of the farmers with variations based on region. If well executed, Agricultural Extension plays a crucial role in promoting agricultural productivity, increasing food security, improving rural livelihoods, and promoting agriculture as an engine of pro-poor economic growth.’
Among the recommendations aired out; there is need to adequately facilitate extension workers to effectively deliver quality extension services to small holder farmers.
There is need for investments in Management Information System especially for livestock, fisheries and environment to support tracking of impacts of extension services.
Ms. Betty Aguti concluded by noting that in order for the Government of Uganda to achieve its objective of a middle income status by 2040, there is need to increase agricultural productivity among small holder farmers, which she said can only be achieved through increased investment to extension service delivery.