Agricultural Extension Services and Food Security in Abim District
Okengo, Oscar Burton
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Agriculture is one of the most important means of livelihood for the majority of the population in developing countries, since it acts as a source of employment to nearly ninety percent of the rural poor. However, in order for agriculture to achieve its desired objective of increasing productivity and hence food security, it needs to be supported by an efficient extension service system. This study aims at examining this relationship between extension services and food security in Abim District, Karamoja region. The study combined ethnographic research design with descriptive surveys to explore the linkage between agricultural extension services (availability of improved husbandry practices, disease and pest management, post harvest handling and marketing of agricultural products) and food security. Random samples of 126 farmers were selected for the interview. In addition, four Focus Group Discussions (FGD) and six Key Informants (KI) interviews were also conducted. A correlation analysis was done to ascertain the level of relationship between availability, access and quality of extension services and food security, in addition, a multi-linear regression was conducted to determine the extent of the relationship. The key findings were, one there was a direct relationship between agricultural extension and food security. Two, incidences of food insecurity were too rampant within the community due to limited access to extension services as only 27.8 percent of the respondents reported having access to extension services, limited livelihoods assets such as livestock holdings, land resources as well as farming implements. The result showed that, most farmers appreciate the importance of extension since most of them indicated interest in embracing the program, except that, there were no personnel providing these services. Finally, there was a clear relationship between agricultural extension services and food security since improvement in the three key aspects of extension (availability, access and quality) would lead to a 75 percent chance improvement in food production. In conclusion, the research confirmed that, food security, though directly linked to agricultural extension, is a multi-dimensional in nature, in that it is affected by both food consumption related factors and non- food related factors. This therefore implies that, for any intervention to succeed there is dire need to integrate all these factors in order to achieve success.