In July 2010, a project consultant and former advocacy officer was hired to facilitate the process and coordinate research with UNFFE, UCA (Uganda Cooperative Alliance), the Agriprofocus-Uganda network, SNV and PELUM Uganda. The four research themes that were identified during the workshop held in December 2008 served as the basis for several rounds of discussions and consultations with the mentioned organisations. This led to the decision that UNFFE would start with one priority theme: “Auditing the effectiveness of legislation and policies that affect farmers with specific reference to the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS)”.
A detailed proposal was developed for this theme in consultation with UNFFE, UCA, the Agriprofocus-Uganda network, SNV and PELUM Uganda, by title: “Action Research to Audit the Effectiveness of NAADS and proposals for Reform: The NAADS that farmers want”:
- To facilitate a data driven consensus on the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of NAADS from the farmers’ point of view;
- To benchmark and analyze different extension model scenarios with a view of recommending progressive models that deliver what takes care of farmers concerns;
- To deliver farmers’ NAADs blue print detailing a road map for reform.
- To provide evidence so that to UNFFE can conduct effective advocacy.
- Map the power /influence matrix to underpin reforms in NAADs.
UNFFE has hired a consultant to do preliminary survey with farmers to get their opinion on NAADS, resulting in “The NAADS that farmers want – dialogue report”. This served as an input into the first Focus Group Dialogue, held on February 3rd 2011. This first Focus Group Dialogue brought together key stakeholders, from the private sector, (inter)national NGOs, government (including representatives of Ministry of Agriculture and the NAADS secretariat), farmers and researchers. UNFFE has also engaged the Ministry of Finance where improving NAADS was one of the key issues discussed. Both the research theme and workshop initiative were well received by government and NAADS officials. They welcomed the audit from UNFFE and stated that it is the first (local) of its kind.
During the Dialogue, the results of the dialogue report were discussed as well as the implementation of NAADS. The main results of the consultations on key issues and constraints on NAADS have been so far:
- Overpricing of inputs / poor quality technologies to farmers
- Poor public relations at local government level
- A flawed selection process for the six model (only rich farmers or those in political leadership benefited from NAADS.
- Annual growth in the Ugandan agriculture sector continues to fall, despite the investments made by NAADS
After the Dialogue, a fact finding survey was done to analyse the effectiveness of the NAADS programme. This included developing the questionnaire, selecting regions and respondents. Farmers groups that do and do not participate in NAADS were interviewed about their experiences with NAADS in so-called ‘fire-place meetings’. The information was collected in progress reports which will serve as a basis to craft an advocacy strategy to improve NAADS.
Meanwhile, UNFFE is also consolidating relations and is participating in consultations with key policy stakeholders such as Ministry of Agriculture and NAADS secretariat, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture.
UNFFE further participated in the National Farmers council which brought together national stakeholders, development partners (specifically FAO) and Farmer leaders from all districts. They discussed farmer related policy and other issues.
UNFFE also participated in the launching of the Eastern Africa Agriculture productivity program (EAAPP), which attracted participants from Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Uganda. UNFFE pushed for the farmer involvement in research and Technology dissemination activities of the EAAPP .