“Militarizing agricultural extension will not work”
President Yoweri Museveni’s directive to Cabinet this week to disband the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) and instead engage former soldiers to provide agricultural extension services, institutions with proper accountability.”
Latigo argued that veterans do not have the required technical competence in the area of agricultural extension or even planning and are therefore bound to fail.
“Who will plan for the activities, who will execute their plans and who will be held accountable for their actions?” Latigo wondered.
Kawempe South MP Ssebuliba Mutumba Mudduawulira described Museveni’s directive as another political interference akin to similar such moves that have dogged many government programmes.
“The problem is not NAADS. It is political interference. This is not the first time the president has been interfering with government programmes.”
“Although NAADS was established as one of the seven pillars of the Plan for Modernization of agriculture, politicians including district councillors had started using it to distribute seedlings for political favours,” Ssebuliba says: “Now they are shifting the blame on to NAADS.
NAADS was established as one of the seven pillars of PMA responsible for providing extension services. However, government failed to adequately support the other six pillars of PMA including; Research and Technology Development, Agricultural Education, Rural Finance, Marketing & Agro-processing, Sustainable use & Management of Natural Resources, and Physical Infrastructure.
Instead of being an advisory service provider, NAADS had turned into a supplier of agricultural inputs especially seeds and planting materials.
Ssebuliba has challenged the government to provide proper accountability of the funds that have been channeled into NAADS rather than simply closing it down and not give tax payers proper accountability.
But not everyone is pessimistic about the involvement of veterans in agriculture. In his recent article about the work of veterans in agriculture, MUBS Economics Lecturer Ramathan Ggoobi hailed President Museveni’s latest outfit known as Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) championed by veterans, as a ‘unique and pioneer homegrown anti-poverty strategy’
Ggoobi hailed OWC as a promising strategy citing the military virtues of pragmatism, accountability, and respect.
Ggoobi wrote: “People tend to take the military more seriously. Those who do not respect soldiers at least fear them. The zonal commanders who are implementing the programmes [of OWC] may not be the most upright individuals but the fact they are coming from an environment where orders must be taken without question, at the end of the task one must account, failure of which calls for prosecution, under military law, some sanity in the fight against poverty might prevail.”
And yet, as Ramathan wrote, OWC activities are meant to banish subsistence farming starting with zones which supported president Museveni during a series of his liberation struggles.
It is such politicization of government programmes and the tendency to benefit a few party loyalists that is often cited by critics as a major weakness that has hampered most government programmes from achieving their intended goals.