The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) has taken steps to revitalize extension services by providing two hundred motorcycles to seventy-seven districts and six cities.
During the handover ceremony at the ministry headquarters, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze expressed confidence that the mobility challenge faced by extension staff in the beneficiary districts has been addressed.
Many agricultural staff in the districts have been struggling to deliver services, citing a lack of transport and facilitation. Matters worsened in the current financial year when the Ministry of Finance discontinued the Agricultural Extension Grant, which traditionally supported districts in providing advice to farmers in the field.
Tumwebaze clarified that the grant has been restored this financial quarter after two quarters without it, following a strong case made by the Ministry to the Ministry of Finance. Part of the grant is expected to cover fueling the motorcycles and maintenance.
The minister urged individual beneficiaries to use various avenues, including radio programs, information technology (ICT), and online meetings, to deliver necessary information to farmers. He emphasized the need for district production officers and Chief Administrative Officers to monitor extensionists to ensure effective service delivery.
Tumwebaze explained that motorcycles were chosen over cars due to their cost-effectiveness. The ministry plans to reduce workshops to allocate more resources for tooling extension staff and support.
Extension staff, although recruited by districts and reporting to the Ministry of Local Government (MOLG), are professionally aligned with MAAIF, which will continue to support them.
The ministry is prioritizing disease surveillance, best cropping and agronomy practices, marketing, and weather mapping to enhance production.
Dr. Deus Muhwezi, the director of extension services at the ministry, stated that the chosen districts were based on vulnerability to food security. Other districts will follow based on the same criteria and the availability of funds. The motorcycles are equipped with gadgets to monitor their location, preventing misuse, and district officials are responsible for monitoring their use.
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.