Tuesday, November 27, 2007

(HERALD) Farmers struggle to access extension services

Farmers struggle to access extension services
By AShwert Kugara

SOME farmers are finding it difficult to access critical extension services at a time when such support is essential owing to inadequate resources and unattractive conditions of service for field officers. The acting director of Agriculture Research and Extension Dr Joseph Gondo told Herald Business that lack of technical information on farming would cripple efforts to effect a speedy turnaround of the economy through agriculture.

He said that farmers might have fertile land, adequate inputs and tillage but without expert guidance, they might fail to produce as expected.

Dr Gondo cited mobility problems as one of the major obstacles hindering the effective discharge of duty by field officers.

"The department received cars and bicycles to cater for our service delivery but they were not adequate basing on activities that we are going to carry out on the ground," he said.

He said that transport shortages have seriously hampered services delivery especially among newly resettled farmers who rely heavily on these services.

Extension officers have failed to attend to farmers’ problems on time.

"Cars were distributed at district level and not all districts benefited. Although bicycles are helping us at the moment, they are ideal in mountainous and sandy areas," he said.

Dr Gondo said the current situation of two officers operating per ward was far from satisfactory. Four officers are ideal per ward.

He attributed the shortage of workers to unattractive conditions of service.

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