The perceived contribution of extension workers in Meeting farmers’ information needs in Busimbi Subcounty, Mityana District
MetadataShow full item record
Since the colonial era, successive governments in Uganda have implemented policies and programs aimed at availing agricultural extension services countrywide. Key functions of agricultural extension include transmitting knowledge, information, skills and technologies, and facilitating interactions among actors in the agricultural sector for the cardinal purpose of improving farmers’ welfare. Up to 54 percent of Uganda’s rural households rely primarily on subsistence agriculture. Information is said to be powerful in terms of empowering people to achieve their full potential. This study aimed at establishing the perceived contribution of extension workers in meeting farmers’ information needs in Busimbi sub-county, Mityana district. A cross-sectional mixed methods survey was carried out. Up to 380 subsistence farmers living in 21 villages were interviewed using a structured questionnaire. Seven agricultural extension workers based at Mityana district and Busimbi sub-county headquarters were interviewed using an interview guide. Qualitative data was analyzed by thematic categorization while quantitative data was analyzed using Microsoft access and excel computer programmes. Findings showed that the agricultural information needs of subsistence farmers concerned modern farming practices (62.1%), pests and disease control (52.4%), good seed varieties, fertilizer application, crop prices and financing opportunities. On average, only 24.4% of subsistence farmers perceived extension workers to be making a contribution in meeting their information needs. The socio-demographic factors found to influence farmer perceptions were gender, membership in farmers’ groups, level of education, major source of income and level of income from agriculture. It was established that, the higher the level of education and income of a farmer, the more positive were the perceptions about the contribution of extension workers in meeting their information needs. Male subsistence farmers and members in farmers’ groups exhibited positive perceptions about the contribution of extension workers. The major constraints hindering information flow between subsistence farmers and extension workers included lack of knowledge on how to access extension workers, long distances to the sub-county, absence of extension workers, and poor facilitation/low funding of extension services. There is need to increase the staffing levels and facilitation of extension workers as well as motivate farmers to work in groups. Socio-economic empowerment of farmers is critical to increase uptake of extension services.