Agency for Transformation (AfT) in partnership with USAID / Governance, Accountability, Participation and Performance (GAPP) Program are implementing a project to strengthen oversight role of farmers and private sector to improve budget integrity and reduce cost of doing business in Mityana and Mubende Districts.
AFT on Monday 24th March 2014 had key stake holders officiate a full day meeting at KOLPING HOUSE in Mityana District aimed at explaining further and discussing the broader project implementation for its effectiveness and efficiency.
The AFT program will support GAPP program objectives that aim at enhancing accountability within local government institutions, strengthen the Government of Uganda (GOU) accountability institutions, improve local government governance, Support Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and other non-state actors in order to achieve;
- Improved legal, policy, regulatory and institutional environment to meet demands for more democratic governance.
- Improved fiscal management and accountability processes in the delivery of services in Mubende and Mityana districts.
- Improved capacity of citizens and communities to participate in local governance.
This objective of the project as explained at the workshop is to address two issues;
- To reduce the cost of doing business by building capacity the of business community in Mubende and Mityana in;
- Knowledge of local government processes
- Knowledge of business regulatory environment
- Representation at local government budget discussions
- Lobby and advocacy
- Increased revenues for business and local governments’ districts
- To increase the percentage of NAADS money that reaches farmers in Mityana and Mubende districts by holding local governments accountable for the grants received from the central government2
AFT is in the process of undertaking two major activities among two sets of constituents: farmers and micro to medium size enterprises (private sector) in Mubende and Mityana districts. One of the main topics covered was farmers and National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS). Specifically, the discussion revolved around the problem with NAADS and why it still matters. The National Agriculture Advisory Services (NAADS) is an important program for several reasons.
First, the majority of Ugandans, including and especially women, depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. According to the last census, over 80% of women and almost 70% of men were engaged in the agricultural or fisheries sector (Uganda Census 2002). Indeed, nationwide, 72% of all employed women and 90% of all rural women work in agriculture. Only 53% of rural men do so. The majority of subsistence farmers are poor men and women faced with many constraints that keep them poor such as lack of knowledge and skills, lack of credit, lack of information about what to produce and how to produce to earn more money1
Second, NAADS is a substantively large program in terms of funding accounting for 59% of the budget/agricultural budget.
Third, NAADS is the government’s primary means of supporting farmers. There are however huge problems with the current set-up –NAADS receives funds on farmers’ behalf, but farmers do not know how much money is released, when it is released and what specifically that money is supposed to do. For example, the Auditor General’s report of 2008 reveals that only 37.1 percent of the total money spent on NAADS may be considered as useful expenditure. And yet, since the inception to June 2006, it is estimated that a total of US$ 107 million has been spent on NAADS activities (Auditor General 2008).
Issues of corruption and other financial irregularities in the implementation of NAADS programme are commonplace in the media. As such, some studies following quantitative approaches such as Benin et al. (2007), and qualitative approaches such as OPM (2005) and Scanagri (2005) provide insights into the glaring fault lines of the NAADS program. In particular, Benin et al. (2007) observed that though there is some positive effect of NAADS on adoption, no significant differences were found between agricultural yields of NAADS and non -NAADS farmers. Spending without results is a loss for farmers and Ugandan tax-payers in general – currently, there is no value for money in NAADS. One of the primary challenges is the lack of accountability between service providers and the intended recipients – farmers.
Therefore, there is urgent need to build capability of farmers to track NAADS funds and ensure that money reaches intended beneficiaries. NAADS must incorporate the governance, participation and performance principles which the GAPP project also seeks to promote. Critical to this endeavour is improving the agency of farmers as key actors in the implementation of this major government program. AFT is hopeful that improved engagement in monitoring this government program will have positive spillover effects into other government sectors as well. Through AFT program, it is hoped that farmers will be better equipped with information that allows them to effectively participate in monitoring government programs, and as such will have greater ability to compel NAADs to comply with and serve farmers’ interests. As women comprise at least half of the agricultural sector, this program will explicitly seek the participation of women. AFT emphasised their goal of ensuring that at least one third of participants in our activities are women.
Agency for transformation as part of this program will therefore undertake activities that are structured around providing information as well as teaching targeted groups of citizenry (farmers and private sector) how to act on this information. These include trainings, district level and national level dialogues, and radio programming. AfT’s theory of transformation and approach is anchored on liberating information- which gives it a unique position in executing this type of activities.
Some of the points and questions highlighted from the workshop are as follows:
- NAADS Coordinators report to District CAO and not NAADS Executive Director
- Implementing Ministry for NAADs is Local Government. What is the role of Ministry of Agriculture?
- Overhead cost for NAADS constitute 60% of its entire budget.
- Did motorcycles for extension workers arrive or are they being ridden by coordinators?
- New proposed Agency to focus on agribusiness and strengthening farmer groups
- NAADS cars are used to take children of NAADS officials to school
- NAADS (National Agriculture Advisory Services) to change to National Agricultural Transformation
- Farmers of Mubende and Mityana want fertilizer and seed subsidiary for small holder farmers.
- New Agency to focus on Agribusiness, irrigation and strengthening farmer groups.
- Farmer’s want NAADS money to go through organic farmers groups like DFAs.
- NAADS to change to a simple spine system and NAADS coordinators will be replaced.
- Tractors cannot work in mountainous areas. What will farmers do?
- Expensive fuel impacts negatively on extension workers in hard to reach areas.
- UNFFE should identify and certify credible input dealers to supply farmers.
- Delay on disbursement of NAADS funds to districts and sub counties affect implementation
- In a new arrangement, all NAADS coordinators will have to reapply for jobs.
- Mubende received UGX 900 million for NAADS in 3rd quarter.
- Because of good roads in Mityana and Mubende, farm prices have improved. – District Speaker.
- Deepen information about NAADS operations and procedures; there are still farmers who do not know about.
- NAADS should help farmers market their products through linking them profitable and resilient markets.
- Farmers say fake seeds are more lethal than a gun.
- AFT to farmers; stop buying seeds without securing stamped/authentic receipts
- Uganda Police should work with farmers and input dealers to weed out fake input dealers.
Here are some pictorial highlights from the meeting. Click on the images to enlarge.