Mbale — Shortage of agriculture extension workers tasked with advising farmers on effective agriculture practices is hindering the sector, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Mr Vincent Ssempijja, has said.
Mr Ssempijja on Monday said professionals with skills of modern agricultural practices are the solution to land degradation and low productivity.
"We are competing with very many countries engaged in agriculture. We need knowledgeable people to guide our farmers because this is denying Uganda a competitive edge on the market," Mr Ssempijja said.
The minister made the remarks while launching Small Grants for Community Based Organisations project under the Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) programme for Mt Elgon in Mbale Town.
He said, "We have a big gap. Most of the sub-counties have only one extension worker."
He added that in some cases one extension worker services 5,000 farmers. The project funded by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) is empowering communities in the Mt Elgon area to utilise their land in an integrated and sustainable way.
It is currently being implemented in Mbale, Manafwa and Bulambuli districts.
Mr Sempijja said the government would recruit 6,000 agriculture extension workers to address the issues related to land degradation, productivity of soils and poor yields.
"President Museveni directed us to recruit additional agricultural extension workers after realising poor agricultural production in the country," he said. He added that the extension workers will be based at sub-county level to advise farmers.