The agriculture ministry has started training extension workers from district local governments on the implementation of the micro-scale irrigation programme.
The one-week training workshop is taking place at the National Farmers Leadership Center, Kampiringisa in Mpigi district.
State Minister of Agriculture Fred Bwino represented by the director of Agriculture extension services in MAAIF, Dr Patience Rwamigisha, opened the training.
Bwino, in his message, said the training is intended to enrich the capacity of the district local governments in implementing the farmer field school approach of training farmers in irrigated agriculture, agronomy, marketing and imparting mindset change in local farmers across the country.
“After this training, we expect you to go back and disseminate this information and skills you have acquired to our local farmers through the farmer field schools established in your local areas, mobilize and motivate our farmers to participate in the government programs like the PDM, and others intended at uplifting their standards of living,” part of the message read.
Rwamigisha cautioned the trainees on laziness in implementing government programs yet their salaries were enhanced, saying they should not give any excuse for not performing.
According to Rwamigisha, the agriculture extension workers have a duty to change farmers’ mindset to embrace irrigation, since seasons are no longer predictable due to climate changes.
“Government introduced the micro-scale irrigation program to help smallholder farmers cope with the ever-changing climate, it is, therefore, our duty to disseminate this information to the local farmers to embrace irrigation so that their lives can be changed,” Rwamigisha said.
John Bosco Okwaja, the principal National Farmers Leadership Center, noted that this training is mainly targeting the district agriculture officers, senior agricultural engineers, and senior agricultural officers from selected districts.
According to Okwaja, the trained extension workers shall be responsible for effectively establishing and running the farmer field school in their local governments after the training.
“We are imparting these trainees with skills and capacity to help them effectively implement the farmer field school approach of training local farmers in irrigated agriculture. We hope the knowledge and skills will help them embrace this program and as well change their mindset, ” Okwaja said.
He, however, called on the government to increase funding for the institute to offer better services to the country.
Micro-scale irrigation program is one of the recent interventions by the government to help farmers cope with the ever-changing seasons.
The program helps farmers to purchase and use micro irrigation equipment on a co-fund basis where the government contributes 75% and the farmer remits the 25%, the program is supported by the World Bank through the Uganda Intergovernmental fiscal Transfer Reform program Additional Financing (UGIFT-AF)
Titus Nuwamanya, the principal engineer in charge of irrigation at the National Farmers Leadership Center, said the micro-scale irrigation program beneficiaries will be provided with additional agricultural extension support to make optional use of their irrigation investments.
“The reason we are training these extension workers is that we are to rely on them to pass on the much-needed support in on-farm water management, irrigated farming, farming as a business, value addition and marketing to local farmers through the implementation of an intensive farmer field school program,” Nuwamanya noted.