Agricultural experts have blamed government for failing the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) program by focusing more on delivery of farm inputs at the expense of extension and advisory services to the farmers.
As a result, the experts say farmers have ended up with inputs they know little about rendering the program ineffective.
Dr Mohammed Silim Nahdy, the executive Director of Africa Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services, says the recent shift in agricultural extension and advisory services in Uganda has resulted into a decline in information dissemination and delivery of more input compared to advice to farmers. Dr Nahdy adds that the move has also led to disbandment of farmer groups in favour of few selected model farmers and the use of political inclination in determining who joins the farmer groups.
Nahdy observed that NAADS program should revert to its original role of rendering information and advice to farmers and desist from combining the role with supplying inputs to farmers, a factor he said leads to conflict of roles.
Margaret Najjingo Mangeni, an Associate professor at Makerere University, said government made several assumptions at the time of designing NAADS that made it difficult for the program to succeed.
She said the assumptions were that technical and managerial capacity existed at local governments and that public extension staff would be laid off and absorbed in private sector service provision. Mangeni said other assumptions were that there would be limited political interference during implementation, conditions, which she explained have caused NAADS to fail.
Dr Kisamba Mugerwa, the Chairperson of National Planning Authority, says that there is need to review the NAADS policies since 2001 when it was introduced. He explained that there have been distortions of the legislated NAADS policy through decrees and proclamations, which he said caused role conflict in the program.
Mugerwa, a former Minister of Agriculture, added that the distortion of the NAADS policy also introduced input supply into the activities of the program, an act that he said greatly reduced the core intention of extension of advice to farmers. He cited the 2011 national budget, which he said provided 75 percent funding for provision of agricultural inputs and offered only 20 percent for advisory services.
Everest Mulumba, the spokesperson of NAADS told Uganda Radio Network on Friday that there was consideration to scrap input delivery from NAADS activities and only leave extension of agricultural advisory role following widespread outcry during the program implementation