FRA holds Strategising Meeting on Improving AEAS
Following the recently concluded Joint Agriculture Sector Annual Review, Food Rights Alliance on 28th September held an inception meeting on maintaining momentum for an inclusive agricultural extension and advisory system for smallholder farmers in Uganda. The meeting held in Kampala brought together CSOs and the media to strategize on how to up efforts to foster an efficient and effective AEAS delivery system in the country.
Admittedly, the ministry of Agriculture has made key strides in fostering this system. Among these include the approval of the Single Spine by Cabinet, the establishment of the Directorate of AEAS, and the recent recruitments at Lower Local Governments. However, it has been repeatedly noted that failure of many Government programmes lies in implementation. Whereas the Single spine model was approved, there is neither a guiding policy nor an Implementation Strategy in place for it. This implies that it is likely not going to be put to effective use especially seeing as the Single spine remained a non-funded priority in the last two consecutive financial years.
The agricultural extension and advisory system in Uganda had been reduced to a project – NAADS. It has been turned it into a political aspect which is diversionary and therefore there is need to redirect the discussion to the bigger picture. A successful AEAS system is dependent on a functional input distribution system and on research. The meeting was a kick start to the process of engaging stakeholders on improving agricultural extension as a measure of improving rural livelihoods.
This meeting provided an opportunity for Non state actors to constructively engage on how resources can be redirected to the delivery of AEAS and that agriculture sector reforms focus on improving accountability to clients, decentralizing service delivery and promoting increased participation of other players beyond Government.
Participants agreed to take on a number of key actions in this regard; among these was lobbying and advocacy through the parliamentary committee on Agriculture for Inter-sectorial engagement between MAAIF, MWE, UNBS and other relevant government departments and agencies. Additionally, monitoring of agriculture sector funds utilization, participatory research and dissemination of findings and media engagement, training and sensitization were other commitments participants made.