By Jude SSebuliba
On 28th April, FRA participated in the 3rd annual meeting of Ugandan Farmers Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (UFAAS). The meeting was majorly intended to review the National Agricultural Extension Strategy, include civil society contribution to the strategy, giving members a platform to exhibit all they are doing towards promoting agricultural extension and brainstorming on how to get youths involved in agriculture.
The meeting was held alongside an exhibition by Access Agriculture, AFAAS, CABI, ExcelHort, Farm Radio International, FRA, Gayaza High School, Heifer International, Sasakawa Global 2000, UFAAS, VEDCO, Young Farmers Coalition of Uganda and ZAABTA who exhibited on a wide range of agriculture related issues including; Post Harvest Handling, Documentation of Agricultural Practices, Running Plant Clinics, Bean Campaign, ExcelHort Business Approaches, Dairy Hubs community anchors, Up scaling Rabbit farming in Uganda, Community-Based Farmer to Farmer extension approach, The Nokia Farmer Approach among others that can help improve agricultural extension.
The meeting deliberated that, there’s a need for government to partner with CSOs to ensure that services of agricultural extension reach rural farmers. It was also agreed that as Civil Society Organisations’ work directly with rural farmers, the easiest way to effectively reach them is through CSOs that already have established structures to do so. Additionally, it was suggested that Extension workers should have some agribusiness knowledge, this will enable them pass on the same to the farmers so as to practice agriculture like a business. The meeting aired out the capacities of the extension workers, the workers should have different capacities when conducting the extension services for example the extension workers should have the capacity to monitor and evaluate themselves.
Suggestions were on how to get the youth interested in agriculture were also made and among these was the increase of ICT usage in agriculture. Since majority of youth are attracted to ICT, it was agreed that anything targeting them should leverage on this interest, other suggestions included organising the youth in groups to learn as a group and also from their peers. Additionally improving infrastructure in the rural areas will lower the rates of rural-urban migration and as such keep the youth in the rural areas where most agriculture is practiced.
The meeting ended with a pledge by a UFAAS executive to channel the day’s deliberations to the Directorate of Extension Services for inclusion into the AEAS Policy it is tabled it to cabinet.