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Towards inclusive agri-skills development for smallholders in Uganda: the case of Abim, Lira and Soroti districts
Paper long abstract:
This paper argues that in order to render smallholders in Uganda competitive in agricultural markets, there are a number of factors to consider in developing their skills. Besides agri-skills, the need for a repertoire of soft skills is necessary to complement the technical skills. On the other hand, the focus on imparting only agronomic skills without regard for the skills necessary for healthy competition along the rest of the value-chain excludes smallholders from comprehensive skills development. This study was conducted in three districts of Abim, Lira and Soroti and data was collected with aid of questionnaires and key informant interview guides. With the assistance of farmer-support organizations such as Share an Opportunity Uganda, Abim Women Together in Development (AWOTID), Agency for Sustainable Rural Transportation (AFSAT), SORUDA, and PEP under PAG in the study areas, a representative sample of farmers from each district was identified and interviewed using a questionnaire. Of the sample, respondents included youth, women, persons with disabilities. The study targeted farmers involved in cassava, maize and millet value chains which are the major income earning crops in Karamoja, Lango and Teso regions. The technical field staff of government agencies involved in providing capacity-building support to farmers were interviewed to ascertain the nature of training interventions extended to farmers. Respondents from these agencies included staff of National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Operation Wealth Creation (OWC) and Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF). The study also involved Uganda National Farmers Federation (UNFFE), a national network involved in empowering farmers as well as a sample of NGOs involved in training farmers in the study areas. In addition, the review of the National Agricultural Extension Strategy was corroborated with findings from the field collected through interviews with different stakeholders. The study findings revealed that effectively addressing skills gaps of small-scale farmers calls for well-designed capacity building interventions with a clear mission. Given that smallholders face an array of skills and knowledge deficiencies, a comprehensive training needs assessment is the logical starting point to plug these gaps. The needs assessment will need to profile not only the basic crop production skills which different farmers lack but also other skills gaps that need to be addressed to empower all farmers to access profitable markets.
Youth employment, knowledge and the labour markets; knowledge and society [initiated by Edukans with INCLUDE, ISCTE-IU Lisbon and Advance Afrika (Kampala, Uganda]]