Agricultural extension workers in Northern Uganda have formed a
coalition for improving access to extension services in the region.
The coalition named Northern Uganda Agricultural Extension
Platform is aimed at closing the gaps of the extension services in the region.
At least 31 Districts in the Lango, Acholi and West Nile Region
among other Institutions that include Gulu University, Muni University Uganda
and Martyrs University are members of the coalition.
Ruth Mugisha, the Regional Coordinator Uganda Forum for
Agricultural Advisory says most of the farmers still do not know how to cope up
with climate change to realize good yields. She says that such risk can be
mitigated when extension services are fully provided to the farmers.
“We have different agrological zones but most farmers still lack knowledge on
the enterprise selection on the particular crops to grow which should be our
primary focus in the next five years” Mugisha noted.
Jimmy Andio, the Program Manager Adraa Agriculture College, says
that the Northern region can potentially develop if farmers get the skills and
knowledge for the best practices in farming.
Albert Unzi, the Agricultural Officer for Obongi District however
noted that the District is operating with only five extension workers which he
says is affecting the extension services in the District.
However, according to Walter Odong, a Lecturer at Gulu University
in the Faculty of Agriculture, there is a need for research on the factors
affecting productivity in the Country.
He asked the government to recruit more extension workers in the
Country to close the gaps of the extension services if farming is to increase
household income to address poverty.
Comfort Yikiru, the Program Manager of Rural Initiative for Community
Empowerment, the farmers led Organization in the West Nile Region says the
disconnect between the farmers and the extension workers is hurting the long
term vision of the Country of sustainable development.
//Cue in…” beyond the farmers …”
Cue out…” end losing a lot …”
The government introduced reform in the agricultural
extension services six years ago through a single spine extension
system to enhance agricultural production, value addition and food security.
However, the understaffing of the extension workers and inadequate
funds in the agricultural sector are among the factors reportedly frustrating
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has
approved for the ceiling of 5,000 extension workers but only 3,854 of them were
recruited by 2019.
At least 1 extension worker is currently handling 1,800 farmers
with the uptake of optimal utilization of technologies in the Country remaining
low at 28% with 68% of the households are still trapped in subsistence farming.
Romeo Okot, a local farmer in Lalogi Sub County from Omoro
District says he has faced challenges of price fluctuation and drastic weather
for the five years in farming.
“We were told that a kilogram of cotton was at 3,000 but they
ended up selling at 1,300 shillings but the worst I suffered last year was the
heavy rain that destroyed 2 hectares of my cotton” Okot recounts.
Okot has however abandoned growing the cotton and switched to
soybeans where he planted 2 hectares this year and hopes to get a better
outcome and the market.