Attended by participants from over 12 African countries, the 5th Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension week was held at Munyonyo Commonwealth hotel in Kampala. The 7-days conference which started on November 14, was officially opened by Gen. Moses Ali, Uganda’s second deputy prime minister who was accompanied by Frank Tumwebaze Uganda’s Minister for Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) among other dignitaries.
The conference was attended by participants from Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Mali, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria. Others were from Zimbabwe, South Africa, Malawi, Ethiopia and those who were attending the session virtually. The African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) is a Continental body that brings National Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services (AEAS) under one umbrella.
Dr. Patrice Djamen the board chairman for AFAAS appreciated the support from Uganda government in organising the Africa-Wide agricultural extension week. Giving a brief background of AFAAS, Dr. Djamen said AFAAS was established in 2004 as a leading organisation in terms of promoting agricultural extension and advisory services. “AFAAS is a continental body under which we aim to actualize the goals that we have set at the national, continental and global level through quality services. We are also geared towards making sure that we meet the needs of the farmers including food security, poverty reduction and improving livelihood,” he explained.
The launch was attended by over 30 participants representing various AEAS actors in Government, Civil society, academia, and private sectors in Uganda. AFAAS Executive Director Dr. Silim Nahdy, underscored the relevance of partnerships for the African-Wide Agricultural Extension week and its contribution to the agricultural sector in Africa and beyond. “The synergies between AFAAS, MAAIF and the development partners are strong,” remarked Dr. Nahdy adding that the fifth Agricultural Extension Week is a timely event to deliberate on issues in agricultural extension from different perspectives.
Ruth Khasaya Oniang’o the chairperson for Sasakawa Africa Association said the ultimate target of all discussions are the farmers at the grassroot. Delivering a speech for Dr. Makoto Kitanaka the president for Sasakawa Africa Association, Oniangó underscored the importance of Sasakawa saying, it aims at addressing the issues of food security and enhancing agricultural extension services. “The challenges surrounding Africa’s small scale farmers and rural communities changed drastically as we expanded our area of work to cover the whole value chain instead of working just for crop production,” remarked Onyang’o.
Eng. Silvester Anthony Matemu, the Executive Director for Nile Basin Initiative underscored the importance of water to agriculture and life generally. He noted that 99% of Uganda’s land area falls within the Nile basin region. “In order to address the main challenges related to water, the Nile basin initiative is implementing a study on water security, environmental sustainability, climate change adaptation and water governance,” he said, further expressing commitment in increasing coordination and collaboration in water-related activity plans.
Maj. Gen. David Kasura Kyomukama the MAAIF permanent secretary said, whereas the Agriculture sector in Uganda contributes 26.2% of the Gross Domestic Product and about 64% of the exports, it remains predominantly subsistence in nature. He implored AFAAS and all governments to commit to address the underlying challenges that limit production, markets, processing as well as bridging the gap between the public and private sector. “The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that the agricultural sector is resilient and able to provide food,” noted Mj. Gen. Kyomukama adding that extension is the heart and soul of the agriculture sector and an engine for social economic transformation.
Frank Tumwebaze, the minister for agriculture, animal industry and fisheries said, all players and stakeholders ought to make agriculture sexy and attractive to the youths who comprise the majority of the population. “We need to develop a component of farming education and make agriculture sexy. We always depict older persons as though they are the only ones involved in agriculture. We should portray agriculture as being cool,” implored Tumwebaze.
Gen. Moses Ali, the second deputy prime minister who was the chief guest, called upon African nations to invest in processing agricultural produce before exporting them. “Africa should not be a consumption centre, but rather an agro-processing centre. For example, we must export processed coffee than raw ones,” Gen. Ali appealed, adding that Africa has the youngest population in the world hence agriculture should be a strong tool for creating jobs.
Besides strengthening interactions between policy-makers and investors to develop fruitful partnerships, the Africa-Wide Agricultural Extension Week is routinely organized as a platform for sharing experiences and learning amongst professionals of different disciplines with a stake in AEAS. The first week was held in Gaborone, Botswana in August 2013 on the theme “Value Chain Approach in Agricultural Development: Coping with new demands for Agricultural Advisory Services”. The second week took place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in October 2015 on the theme “Reinvigorating Extension Services for Market-led Agriculture within the Context of the Malabo Declaration.”The third week was held in Durban South Africa October/November 2017 on the theme “Scaling up climate-smart agriculture: integrating youth, women, and the digital revolution,” while the fourth week was held in Abidjan Cote d’Ivoire in 2019 in November 2019 under the theme “Private Sector and Agricultural Advisory Services Synergies for Sustainable Agricultural Development in Africa.”
This year’s event was organised under the theme “Effective Agricultural Extension Systems for Sustainable Agripreneurship in Africa.”The fifth edition of the Africa-wide Agricultural Extension Week 2021 was co-hosted by partners with support from the European Union’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), The World Bank, and other partners.