UFAAS pushing for profession Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services in Uganda

The Uganda Forum for Agricultural advisory Services (UFAAS) is lobbying for supportive laws to recognise the AEAS profession to boost agriculture development in the country.

With more than 250 registered members but reaching 1000 extension actors in Uganda, UFAAS is promoting the professionalisation of AEAS, a sector which is critical in agricultural transformation.

“We want to see extension being recognised as a profession. On this, we have been working with the Ministry of Agricultural Animal Industry and Fisheries and have supported them to come up with guidelines and ethical code of conduct and establish process of registration and accreditation of extension of actors in the country,” says Beatrice Luzobe, UFAAS Chief Executive Officer and CF Focal person.

“We are waiting for the bill to be presented to parliament to be law,” Luzobe said.

Uganda’s agricultural extension policy (2016) acknowledges a pluralistic approach. The process for registration and accreditation of Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) is part of the strategy aimed at establishing a high quality, well-coordinated and harmonized pluralistic agricultural extension delivery system for sustainable development. This is provided for in the guidelines and standards to guide and regulate the sector players.

The aim of the registration is to promote professionalism, accountability and ethical conduct among the actors for increased efficiency and effectiveness of the agricultural extension system in the country. This is in line with the Vision of the Africa Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) – Agricultural Advisory Services that effectively and efficiently contribute to sustained productivity and profitability and growth of African agriculture for poverty reduction.

The registration of extension workers in various regions of Uganda will be done in phases, and each extension worker will be assigned a unique code.

UFAAS, established in 2011 brings together a wide range of actors involved AEAS in Uganda who include Public, Academia, Private, Civil Society, Farmers Organization, Media and Development Partners.

Launched in May 2011, UFAAS is registered in Uganda as the country chapter of the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS). 

The quest to professionalise extension actors in Uganda is to bolster the skills and knowledge capacity of AEAS workers to better serve farmers and other actors in the agriculture sector.  UFAAS is on a membership mobilisation drive to reach more actors across Uganda.

 In July 2020, the CF hosted Africa’s first e-agricultural extension symposium during which it also launched a landmark database for agricultural extension workers.

The e-symposium organised under the theme, ‘Positioning Agricultural Extension and advisory Services for Resilient Agriculture and Food Systems’ attracted 930 participants (several others through the various platforms such as radio, and social media outlets. It provides a forum for the different AEAS actors and stakeholders to deliberate on how AEAS can effectively and efficiently contribute to agriculture and food systems, amidst the natural calamities of Covid 19 and other natural disasters. A national lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic affected the activities of UFAAS.

Luzobe said the CF has also established regional hubs to take UFAAS beyond Kampala, Uganda’s capital city.

“We have had a challenge before where UFAAAS was like a Kampala business and so this year we have established regional hubs and have member organisations who have agreed to host these hubs in the north, east and central Uganda. We want UFAAS to be felt in all regions of the country,” Luzobe said, noting that UFAAS was also targeting to engage youth through mentorship programmes to help prepare them for agripreneurship.

The CF has established an internship programme in Scandinavian countries for students to build capacity on new skills they will apply on their return to Uganda. This internship has been facilitated through Bixter Training in Denmark and Expedia Africa Agency.

Capacity building

CIKM volunteer, Elizabeth Asiimwe, said UFAAS was working on building the capacity of its members on various skills and issues identified by members such as the Climate Smart Agriculture, Innovation Platforms and focus on gender, nutrition and Genetic Modified Organisms to ensure that extension workers were well informed.

UFAAS has strengthened networking and has engaged over 400 individual members using new media and ICTS.

“We have two WhatsApp groups, a listserv (google group) for internal communications on topical issues and we also reach to masses through Twitter, Facebook and the website highlights with information updates about UFAAS activities and generally agricultural extension related information,” said Asiimwe.