WAKISO – Up to 546 agriculture extension workers all drawn from 29 districts in Northern Uganda have been retooled to bolster service delivery in agriculture sector.
The training, a brainchild of Office of the Prime Minister, (OPM) under the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) program was conducted by a joint team from the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) at Makerere University and the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO).
“Over 500 technical and extension workers have received training in the field of integrated pest and disease management, climate smart agriculture, apiculture, post-harvest handling, integrated soil fertility management, marketing, agribusiness and financial management,” Mr Gonzaga Mayanja, the commissioner for monitoring and evaluation at OPM said.
The year one training sought to empower agriculture extension staff with practical skills to support farmers in Northern Uganda, he added during the pass out ceremony at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyoro on Friday.
DINU, a Government of Uganda programme, he said is aimed at consolidating stability in Northern Uganda, eradicating poverty and improving nutrition, and strengthening the foundation of sustainable social economic development.
DINU is a supported by a grant of 150 million Euros from the European Union (EU) and supervised by OPM
It is a multi-sectoral programme aimed at improving livelihoods in 41 districts in the five sub-regions of Acholi, Karamoja, Lango, Teso and West Nile for a duration of six years (2017-2023).
Professor Mukadasi Buyinza who represented Makerere Vice Chancellor said trainings such as this are timely as they come at the start of the implementation of the Parish Development Model (PDM).
Prof Mukadesi revealed that the government has extended support for about 750 research projects at Makerere to a tune of about UGX 70billions.
“Through these projects, our researchers have been able to conduct impactful research relevant for the development need for this country” he adds.
“We are confident the new knowledge and skills acquired through these trainings will enable the frontline extension workers to provide better support to our farmers. This will in turn enhance household food and nutrition security, reduce poverty and improve household incomes in the Northern and Eastern Regions that were severely affected by the LRA insurgency,” he said.
On her part, State Minister for Northern Uganda Rehabilitation, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, cherished European Union for supporting the government of Uganda in its quest to eradicate poverty.
“The training was designed to contribute to the larger goal of improving the livelihoods of the farming communities in Northern Uganda by re-tooling district extension staff on the key skills gap areas using participatory and hands-on approaches in providing advisory services to the farmers,” the minister said.
The Head of the European Union Delegation to Uganda, Ambassador Jan Sadek said the EU had been impressed by the socioeconomic progress registered so far in Northern Uganda.
“We have paid close attention to Northern Uganda and impressive progress has been made over the past 15 years with support from the European Union. Working together with the Government and partners through DINU, we have continued to invest in the region to respond to the challenges still faced by the people. Together, we have moved to connect the dots between sectors, actors and areas, in order to better achieve inclusive and sustainable socio- economic development,” he said.
“This approach recognizes the crucial role played by local authorities in achieving development outcomes and ensuring service delivery. The training of local production extension staff contributes to this vision because it will boost the capacities of local governments to better fulfil their mandates and respond to the needs of the people”
Last year OPM, awarded a grant contract of 1.2 billion Shillings to the college of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at Makerere University to design a short-term training course for the technical staff of the local production community-based services and trade in Northern Uganda.
The college offered 10 courses to the beneficiaries including integrated pests and disease management, Agribusiness and market linkages, farmer institutional capacity development, Fish feed formulation, and feeding apiculture among others to improve extension service delivery to farmers.
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