The recent reforms in the National Agricultural Advisory Services-NAADS program are illegal, Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a senior lecturer at Makerere University has disclosed.
Ndebesa cautions government about a possible law suit over the changes in NAADS that was introduced in 2001 to empower farmers. According to Ndebesa, NAADS was established through an act of parliament adding that it can only be amended through a similar process.
He warns that government remains liable for breach of law over what he describes as ‘illegal changes to NAADS’. He claims the changes have frustrated the goals of improving food security, nutrition and raising household income, which the program was intended to achieve.
Ndebesa’s interpretation follows reports that government is set to make fresh amendments to the NAADS program. Anthony Wanyoti, the NAADS spokesperson recently told local media that a subcommittee of Cabinet was drafting reforms to be made on the program but said he did was not aware of the proposals.
Wilberforce Kisamba Mugerwa, the chairman National Planning Authority, which is responsible for producing development plans for the country admits NAADS has undergone many changes over the last 12 years. He explained that the changes added input supply content to a program, which was previously designed to offer extension and advisory services.
Mugerwa, a former minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries named the introduction of input delivery in 2005 and the Prosperity For All policy under the NRM party manifesto as some of the changes imposed on the NAADS program.
He explained that reviewing NAADS should involve a wide consultative process in order to make logical decisions on the future of agriculture extension and advisory service provision in the country.
It’s not clear how and when the reforms will stop but Maria Kiwanuka, the minister for Finance, Planning and Economic Development recently announced that government would reform NAADs to create a ‘single spine’ extension system aligned to the relevant directorates in the ministry of Agriculture.
She added that NAADS would also develop a rural agri-business initiative to disseminate information on how to support profitable agriculture enterprises across the country.