Over 2200 Agricultural Extension Posts Vacant

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In short
Dr. Najjingo Mangheni, also founder and Chairperson Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, said the issue of recruitment aside; government needs to ensure that those recruited are given tools to ensure delivery of services. She said extension services go beyond posting an officer at the district, municipality or sub county level.

Agriculture extension services still remain a preserve of a few farmers following the failure by districts across the country to fill up the vacant posts. There are two thousand two hundred and forty vacant posts out of the expected five thousand extension worker's post to be filled at Districts, Municipalities and sub county levels.

In his latest report issued in the December 2017, the Auditor General notes that the failure to fill up the vacant posts has maintained one extension worker to one thousand eight hundred farmers-one of the highest ratios in the region. Plans to have all the 5000 posts filled would have reduced the extension worker to farmer ratio of 1:500 as planned by the 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 financial years. 

The information comes as Parliament and cabinet embark on the budgeting process for the coming financial year. The findings point to the possibility that the Agriculture Ministry is yet to gain the support needed to implement the single spine agriculture extension system. The single spines extension mooted in the financial year 2015/16 is in line with the reform of the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) to create a unified single spine extension system under the Directorate of Extension Services. 

  
The acting director, Directorate of Agricultural Extension Services (DAES), Beatrice Byarugaba could not be reached for comment by the time of filing this story as to why the posts were not filled. In the report, the Auditor General, John Muwanga says districts were also unable to attract some professionals in the areas like Veterinary, Entomology, and Agriculture Engineering. Muwanga said failure to provide agricultural extension services to farmers, more especially at the Sub County level hinders the Ministry from increasing agricultural production and productivity. 

He observed that farmers are denied access to procured inputs, new technologies generated, and training on utilization of inputs and services rendered by sector projects that require the extension system such as NAADS and NUSAF among others. The Auditor General said Accounting Officers attributed the situation to inadequate resource performance of the District Service Commission and lack of specific professionals.  


He advises government to prioritize and expedite the recruitment process to enable provision of extension services throughout the country in order to support agricultural production and productivity.  Dr. Margaret Najjingo Mangheni, an Associate Professor Department of Extension and Innovation Studies Makerere University while commenting on the Auditor General's report noted that some more people could have been recruited  than what was reported. 
 

Dr. Najjingo Mangheni, also founder and Chairperson Uganda Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, said the issue of recruitment aside; government needs to ensure that those recruited are given tools to ensure delivery of services. She said extension services go beyond posting an officer at the district, municipality or sub county level. 
 
The appointed extension workers according to Dr. Najjingo Mangeni need better facilitation for mobility, adding that they equally need to be adequately monitored for them to deliver the needed results. From the Auditor General's report, there seems to be a gap in monitoring the distribution of seedlings for the different enterprises under Operation Wealth Creation. 

 
The Auditor General says he reviewed supply of tea seedling Vis-a-vis the acreage planted. The report says a total estimated acreage of the 64 farms sampled was over 937 acres in the 5 Districts. The 64 farms according to Auditor General measured over 473 acres resulting into over 463 acres that could not be traced.

"It was noted that 4,440,507 seedlings were supplied instead of the recommended 2,369,333 seedlings resulting into excess supply of 2,071,174 seedlings valued at UGX.932 million at a market rate of UGX.450 per seedling," reads the report partly. The Auditor General cites an example of over 27,000 seedling supplied by  Zatwoshaho Joy to Bukinda seminary and Bukinda Parish, which could not be traced to particular tea farmers in Kabale District.

The Auditor General said there is risk that seedlings were supplied to non-existent farms.
He said the NAADS programme needs to review its approach to providing extension services so as to target the single spine programme under Ministry of Agriculture.

 
Meanwhile Dr. Najjingo Mangheni is still optimistic about the single spine extension systems. She says there is possibility of success if the government ensures that structures function as planned in all the 1,654 sub counties