On 21st June 2014, Mr. Goan Yakub, a local citizen from the National Resistance Movement Party in Kabarole District indicated how the NAADS (National Agriculture Advisory Services) program was aimed at agro business and commercialization of agriculture. “The NAADS program aimed at agro business and commercialization of agriculture. The program was also after uplifting the local citizens from poverty through improved agriculture by sensitizing them and providing them with equipment. However, it is very unfortunate that 80% of the funds were spent on salaries and holding meetings in expensive hotels by the technocrats”. Mr. Goan was discussing on ToroDev’s supported ‘Orukurato Program’, a 2hr weekly radio program that discusses issues of accountability every Saturday (08:00 – 10:00) pm on HITS FM.
During the discussion, Mr. Goan further showed his support to the President’s proposal of using the army to implement the NAADS program. “Article 208, close 2 of the Uganda National Constitution reads that the UPDF (Uganda People’s Defense Forces) shall be non partisan, national in character, patriotic, professional, disciplined, productive and subordinate to the civilian authority as established under the constitution. This shows that the constitution allows the army to participate in the country’s production”.
The live radio discussion was also attended by Mr. Mitsera Kasukali, the Executive Director of CABS (Community Agro Business Capacity Services) in Kabarole District and Mr. John Byabazaire, a local citizen of Kabarole District.
Mr. Mitsera participated in the live radio discussion by highlighting how the NAADS program has a lot of mistakes that need to be corrected. “NAADS came as an extension arm for PMA (Plan for Modernization of Agriculture). PMA was structured into seven pillars where NAADS carried some of the content like research, rural financial services, market processing, natural resource development, supporting physical infrastructure, among others. However, NAADS remained a strong pillar even after the collapse of PMA. Therefore, the structure of NAADS should be reviewed so as to correct all the mistakes that are affecting its performance”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Byabazaire indicated how NAADS was not a good program for developing Ugandans. “NAADS is not a good program for developing countries like Uganda. It is a liberalization policy and needs to be reviewed. Ugandans should not be taken as beggars by the government through giving them free equipment, under the NAADS program. There should be ways of creating motivation among farmers like improving markets, value addition, creating bank loans, industries for processing, among others.
Local listeners also participated in the live radio discussion through call ins to raise their issues and concerns. “If generals do not perform well, to whom will they be accountable?” asked Aguma, “There is a lot of sectarianism in Uganda”, said Afande, “Technocrats have been segregating when delivering NAADS services”, said a caller from Kyegegwa District, “The NAADS program has been helping the rich only”, said Francis from Kijura Town Council in Kabarole District, “UPDF should take over NAADS because it will reduce on the funds that are wasted on extension workers”, said Kalenzi from Mbarara District.
The live radio discussion was moderated by Mr. Kasigazi Willy Donanto and is supported by SIDA/CIPESA and SPIDER/Stockholm University on a project aimed at using appropriate ICT tools to promote democratic engagement in the Rwenzori Region, Western Uganda.