Extension workers are experts who advise farmers to improve their agricultural practices by checking crop failures, livestock diseases, pests and vectors.
They are also supposed to provide agricultural statistics, regulatory services, agricultural planning and quality assurance for food security.
In the absence of specific training in extension work, most countries, especially in Africa, recruit extension workers from a pool of graduates who have only studied courses related to agriculture.
Regional experts meeting in Kampala to review the impact of agricultural extension and advisory services in Africa proposed the elevation of extension services to a postgraduate qualification.
The proposed curriculum was unveiled to the experts in Kampala at the Eastern Africa Agricultural Extension and Advisory Services Policy Dialogue.
Kristina Davies from the Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services said the curriculum would produce extension workers with not only technical but also functional skills to guide farmers.
“We are not looking at the old fashion of extension service. The curriculum spells out new roles and capacities that an extension worker must possess,” she stated.
In 2014, Government disbanded the NAADS structure in all the districts to pave way for a ‘single spine extension system in order to make more efficient to avoid duplication.
Under the system, NAADs exists as a directorate in the ministry of agriculture, in is known as the Uganda Agricultural Extension Service.
During the reform process, the NAADs secretariat was reduced from 87 experts to 33, in order to create a smaller think-tank that oversees the work of agricultural extension workers.
Dr Silim Nahdy, the director of the African Forum for Agricultural Services said the current model of extension services in many countries, including Uganda was old-fashioned.
“At a global and continental level, there is a large pool of research and technology that is not being used because of a broken pipe of extension,” he stated.