Model Farmers for Sustainable Organic Agriculture Practices

Over the past years, the focus on the approach and channels of delivery of extension and advisory services has evolved through different stages. These changes have been driven by a changing context in resource availability; climate change; new developments in information, communication, and production technologies; the entry of new actors; and increasingly globalized and vertically integrated agri-food systems. There is a renewed interest in exploring different extension and advisory service delivery models to better serve the changing agricultural development context. This renewed interest is accompanied with a desire to revive community-based approaches of extension service delivery, with farmer-to-farmer extension now as a dominant approach in many African countries.

In Uganda, the model farmers’ approach has been adopted by many CSOs (Civil Society Organizations) to address the inadequate government extension service delivery due to the high ratio of extension worker to farmer which is established at 1:5000 as opposed to the global benchmark of 1:500. The situation has persisted since 2013 when the National Agriculture Extension Strategy (NAES) was developed and has recently been exacerbated by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context, Model Farmers (MF) are understood as farmers that continually demonstrate increased productivity per unit area, while diversifying and integrating farm enterprises for food security and income generation at household level. These translate into their ‘good practices’, which are replicated in the community through peer-to-peer learning. This strategy has proved to contribute to increased extension service delivery and or coverage in addition to improved technology transfer and use. Nonetheless, with the agribusiness orientation, MFs are playing a significant role in organizing farmers towards collective and sustainable markets for their produce. 

In the year 2022, ACSA profiled and documented 12 model farmers drawn from member organizations countrywide specifically the following CSOs; Skills Oriented Development Initiatives (SODI), Bidhampola Community Development Association (BICODA), KULIKA Uganda, Nnina Olugero Foundation, Homeland Agro-tourism, Caritas Lugazi, PROMETRA Uganda, Mityana District Modern Farmers Ltd (MIDMOF), Uganda Youth at Risk Development Network (UYDNET) and Agency for Integrated Rural Development (AFIRD). The criteria for selection of model farmers was based on; the level of farmer development, uniqueness of sustainable organic agriculture practices employed, specific agricultural innovations, and the level of production among others. Farmers’ enterprises included seasonal and perennial crops, livestock and agro-processing of produce. 

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