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MDGs are your business too!

MDGs are your business too!

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Published by Tusiime Samson

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Published by: Tusiime Samson on Mar 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Urban agriculture extension has taken a demand driven approach because of the market liberalization demands. The study that underpin this policy brief shows that only 18% of the urban farmers receive government extensionworkers on their farms quarterly an indication that the demand driven government extension service may not beregular in urban centres. The demand for ‘need based’ urban agriculture extension may still exist in urban areasespecially where majority of the farmers (78%) are primary school dropouts. Farmers also receive agricultureextension from various actors; civil society actors, private service providers, the media, production departmentsand the Resident District Commissioner oces, presenting a need to coordinate such multiple service providers. The study on the contribution of agricultural policies towards enlargement of livelihood outcomes of urbanfarmers, demonstrates that urban extension service is mainly demand driven rather than need driven. FAO (2005)denes extension as the function of providing need-and demand-based knowledge and skills to the populationwith an objective of improving their livelihoods. The study shows that only 50% of the farmers knew where theagriculture urban agriculture oces were located in their sub-counties. Agriculture extension oces are illfacilitated, as such, extension workers often ask farmers to organize and transport them to the communities. Thereseems to be less appreciation of urban agriculture among politicians to the extent that the ordinances that weremade to control and guide agricultural practices in Kampala, for instance have not been implemented since 2006. The agriculture department budget commonly underperform, the activity plans are not regularly implementedbecause of lack of funding to conduct the agriculture extension. Only 18% of the urban farmers receivegovernment extension workers on their farms at least quarterly. Most farmers (73%) receive agricultureinformation on agriculture from friends and from the public media (59%) compared to government extensionworkers. Kampala has had parallel extension services, conducted by the Resident District Commissioner and thetechnical team at the district/ division with minimal coordination. FAO (2005) noted that extension function is alsoimportant for the welfare of farmers, no matter who performs it as long as it is done satisfactorily. Results of thisstudy show that extension service providers can benet from improved organization, coordination andinter-linkages. The recommendations in this policy brief arose from a research conducted in two urban centres in Uganda i.e.Kampala City Council and Mbale Municipality. This study focused on assessing the contribution of Government of Uganda agricultural policies in expanding the livelihood assets of the urban farmers. The two urban centres areamong the biggest in Uganda. Kampala city is the largest city in Uganda with about 2.3 million people. It is thecapital city of Uganda. Meanwhile, Mbale municipality is among the three largest urban centres in Uganda withabout 70,000 people. The city of Kampala and the Municipality of Mbale experience a natural rainfall cycle thatallows the growth of most foods produced within the tropics. This policy brief argues for agriculture extension reforms in urban centres; concurrent promotion of demand andneed driven agriculture extension; education of both technical and political leaders in local governments on theimportance of urban agriculture to urban economies; institutionalization of farm radio programmes; ensuringguided media information pull outs and intertwining extension with agriculture research. Such policy options willgo a long way to boost urban agriculture extension.
1. Encourage concurrent promotion of demand and need driven agriculture extension
 The current demand driven urban agriculture extension has beneted fewer urban farmers i.e. those who candemand and aord to provide transport to agriculture extensionists to their farms. Despite market led economies,it is important to reform the extension to benet urban farmers who may not fully benet from liberalizedeconomies. Extension is a public service, thus becomes an entitlement to urban farmers.City authorities need to categorise the agriculture community to be able to apply the ‘need based approaches’ onthose who cannot aord to demand for extension services. To do this, there must be clear data base on urban farmers through regular census and data collection. Extensionocials as a requirement must engage in the two aspects of agriculture extension and report accordingly. All urbanlocal authorities should be equipped with relevant numbers of technical ocers including sheries, crop, animal,orists’, agronomists so as to boost agriculture. Urban authorities need to make strong political and nancialcommitments towards ‘need based’ extension to benet majority of farmers.
2. Provide education to leaders on the importance of urban agriculture
Leaders need to appreciate the contribution of urban agriculture to the livelihoods of urban dwellers and to thelocal economies.Although, majority 74% of urban farmers had another source of income other than farming, 16% fully dependedon urban farming as their sole source of income. Thus, urban agriculture supplements people’s incomes but also isimportant for survival for a big percentage of people. The issue of political will is important in revamping urbanagriculture to benet many farmers. The production to deliberately educate both technical and political leaders onthe importance of urban agriculture and the need for support to develop quality extension services. Productiondepartments need to compile brief gures and facts regarding the contribution of urban agriculture to localeconomies and use them to inuence the decisions and actions of urban authorities. The local governmentcommittees on agriculture should continuously educate the entire council on the importance of urban agricultureand lobby for budgets that can perform or functional budgets.
3. Institute farm radio programmes
Results of this study indicate that 59% of urban farmers acquire agriculture information from the media. Theproliferation of several FM radios should be used at the advantage of farmers.As a matter of policy government should require radio management to provide free air space to technical ocialsto oer technical advice to farmers. This could be a call in programme where professors, researchers, experiencedfarmers and other stakeholders can oer agriculture related information to the population.Call-in programmes would help to immediately provide solutions to the farmers. The revolution in informationtechnology should be used as a means in agriculture extension. Information is important to introduce farmers tobetter agronomical and agro-processing practices. The production departments together with marketingdepartment have to manage such air space for the benet of the farmers. Appropriate timing especially eveningsand lunch hours are anticipated to be appropriate times of the day to reach the urban farmers. This study used an exploratory and a case-study design whereby both qualitative and quantitative approaches andmethods were utilised. The study involved review of literature on agriculture, agriculture policies and urbanagriculture policies and practices. Primary data was collected from Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry andFisheries (MAAIF), district and urban authorities, agriculture ocers, community development ocers, farmers’leaders and urban farmers.
4. Avail guided media information products
Quality and validity of information accessed through the media need to be certied.Generally media was viewed as one of the major sources of agriculture related information for urban farmers. Theseincluded news paper pull outs, TV programmes, and Internet information. This is an indication that the urbanpopulation has access to these media platforms. MAAIF together with agriculture teaching and researchinstitutions need to establish mechanisms to control and assure content quality of the news paper pull outs and TVprogrammes. Government need to demand that media houses consult MAAIF on their agriculture relatedinformation products to the masses. The media houses together with MAAIF should organize short courses forparticular journalists to educate them on a regular basis on new technologies for urban agriculture. These are goodpractices that will enable the farmers to be feed on relevant and quality information important to increaseproduction, control pests and diseases and access markets for their produce.
5. Intertwine extension with agriculture research
Extension is an essential aspect for research and development although now are currently being viewed andpracticed independently of each other. Study ndings show that for those projects where urban agricultureextensions have worked together with research institutions and the communities, through an action research,such extension has been benecial. Both farmers and the research institutions gain trust in extension and theextension workers are able to gain research skills.Government should fund urban agriculture researches that focus on developing useful technologies andstrategies relevant to local contexts. The extension should focus on enhancing acceptance and adoption of thosetechnologies by users. The extension services need the backstopping of strong applied agricultural researchinstitutions to eectively serve the farming communities. Therefore the production department need to formally maintain strong working relationships with researchinstitutions located in their locations. The production departments need to coordinate with universities in deliveryof agriculture extension and research outreach programmes. Linkage with research institutions will also enable theproduction departments to access funding through research projects.Urban agriculture can work better with appreciation of agriculture as a critical component of livelihoods of urbanfarmers and urban economies. Government need to utilize the revolution of information technology to reform thegovernment extension service delivery and establish policy guidelines that requires dierent extension providersto oer quality services.

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