The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has taken a significant step towards revitalizing extension services by providing two hundred motorcycles to seventy-seven districts and six cities. This initiative aims to address the mobility challenge faced by extension staff in the beneficiary districts, ensuring that they can effectively deliver crucial agricultural services to farmers.
During the handover ceremony held at the ministry headquarters, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, expressed confidence that the motorcycles will significantly enhance the reach and impact of extension services. He acknowledged the challenges faced by agricultural staff in the past due to a lack of transport and facilitation, emphasizing the importance of this initiative in addressing these issues.
Minister Tumwebaze noted that the Agricultural Extension Grant, which traditionally supported districts in providing advice to farmers in the field, was discontinued by the Ministry of Finance in the current financial year. However, following a strong case made by MAAIF, the grant has been restored this financial quarter. Part of the grant is expected to cover fueling the motorcycles and maintenance.
Enhancing Service Delivery
To ensure effective service delivery, Minister Tumwebaze urged individual beneficiaries to utilize various channels, including radio programs, information technology (ICT), and online meetings, to disseminate necessary information to farmers. He emphasized the need for district production officers and Chief Administrative Officers to closely monitor extensionists to ensure they are fulfilling their responsibilities.
The choice of motorcycles over cars was made primarily due to their cost-effectiveness. The ministry plans to reduce workshops and allocate more resources to equipping extension staff and providing additional support.
Continued Support for Extension Staff
Extension staff, although recruited by districts and reporting to the Ministry of Local Government (MOLG), are professionally aligned with MAAIF, which will continue to provide them with the necessary support.
Prioritizing Disease Surveillance and Agricultural Practices
The ministry is prioritizing disease surveillance, best cropping and agronomy practices, marketing, and weather mapping to enhance production.
Vulnerability to Food Security as a Selection Criterion
Dr. Deus Muhwezi, the director of extension services at the ministry, explained that the chosen districts were based on their vulnerability to food security. Other districts will follow based on the same criteria and the availability of funds.
Monitoring and Preventing Misuse
The motorcycles are equipped with gadgets to monitor their location, preventing misuse. District officials will be responsible for monitoring their use.
Appreciation from Extension Staff
Dr. Nangole Francis Olaki, the Moroto District Production officer, represented his colleagues at the symbolic ceremony before the motorcycles were dispatched to the respective districts. He expressed gratitude to the ministry for providing the much-needed motorcycles, emphasizing their impact on improving service delivery and ultimately enhancing agricultural productivity.
Additional Reporting: The Standard: