Tension is high at the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) secretariat over the ongoing restructuring exercise, which will see many staff laid off. A source at the organization recently told our reporter that a section of workers had been temporarily laid off awaiting a probe by the World Bank into the operations of the agency.
The source claimed that tension was high amongst staff as they were not certain of what the outcome of the probe would mean to their jobs. Recently, while meeting Mukono district leaders, President Yoweri Museveni said plans were underway to restructure the NAADS program. He explained that most of the staff at the secretariat would be laid leaving only a small staff to coordinate the program. Museveni said government would instead deploy more extension workers to support farmers to make the program more efficient.
Dr Samuel Mugasi, the NAADS Executive Director, could neither deny nor confirm the impending layoffs when approached by redpepper. However, Anthony Wanyo Wanyoto, the NAADS spokesperson, said he was not aware of any plans to lay off any employees. He however, confirmed that a cabinet subcommittee was working to restructure the functions and operation of the organization. He says they would welcome the outcomes of the restructuring process.
In 2001, government initiated the National Agricultural Advisory Services to improve agriculture productivity through the provision of extension services to farmers. The Program adopted a decentralized, private sector service contract extension system. Wilberforce Kisamba Mugerwa, the Chairman of the National Planning Authority, says NAADS has over the years shifted away from providing agricultural extension due to decrees and proclamations that have altered the NAADS Act creating conflict of roles.
He observes the need to review the policy and model of implementing NAADS. Similarly, the World Bank recently asked government to clearly state its position on the model of NAADS implementation. Rashit Pertev, a senior agricultural economist at World Bank, says they are eager to know what decision government was going to make regarding the future of the extension services in the country. He says the World Bank would not provide any funding should government choose to re-centralize the advisory and extension services.
It’s understood that such concerns have prompted government to consider changes that could result into the layoff of many workers.