By Micah Kamusiime
NTUNGAMO – Extension workers in the South-western district of Ntungamo have come under fire over allegations of absenteeism and failure to advise farmers.
The district has over 40 extension workers, 20 of whom are crop extension workers.
Local leaders and farmers accuse the staff of not allocating enough time to farmers thus leaving them to plant and harvest without any technical advice which results in low and poor quality yields.
The farmers raised the concerns on Thursday, July 11, during a meeting that was organized by the Ministry of Agriculture at Ntungamo district council hall.
The meeting was aimed at sensitizing the local leaders, farmers and community development officers among other stakeholders on the Agriculture cluster development project.
The project objective is to raise on-farm productivity and quality volumes of farm produce such as maize, beans, cassava, rice and coffee in particular geographical clusters.
Mohammed Bashaija the Local Council III Chairperson for Kayonza sub-county says that the extension services are not yet visible despite the presence of the extension staff.
Frolence Tumwesigye a farmer from Nyakyera sub-county revealed that it is unfortunate for the farmers to continue struggling to access technical advice yet the government has extension workers deployed in various sub-counties.
Ntungamo Resident District Commissioner, George Bakunda says that he has also been receiving complaints from the farmers accusing the extension workers of absenteeism and failing to provide advisory services to the farmers.
Ntungamo’s Deputy Chief Administrative Officer, Leonard Ahimbisibwe says that the allegations against the extension workers are genuine.
He says that these employees must wake up and support the farmers especially at the time when the agriculture cluster development project is being rolled out to ensure increased production and to also improve the quality of the produce within the area.
He says that the district is working out mechanisms of ensuring that the extension staff reaches out to the farmers regularly.
Mr Odongo Kizito is a Senior Agricultural Officer attached to the ministry of Agriculture, Animal industry and fisheries.
He says that the Agriculture cluster development project which is focusing on beans and coffee started with 7 pilot sub-counties in Ntungamo and has now been rolled out to all the 33 lower local governments
He says that the extension workers have a big role to play in ensuring that the farmers embrace modern practices that will not only lead to increased yields and quality but also to enable them to attract better prices for their produce.