The USAID Hub in collaboration with its grantee, Akorion Company Limited, trained 6,922 village agents and extension workers to introduce the Village Agent Model (VAM), a new extension services approach, throughout Uganda. The trainees will support the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries (MAAIF) to drive agricultural transformation for greater food security and prosperity.
Speaking at the Hub’s grant closeout event, Beatrice Byarugaba, MAAIF’s Director of the Extension Directorate, said, “This training plays a key role in contributing to economic growth in Uganda as more farmers will increase production which will lead to better household incomes and food security…Jobs will be created both at farm level as well as along the value chain.”
The Village Agent Model uses local intermediaries, or village agents, to provide production and marketing services to farmers, linking them with input suppliers, markets and financial services. Their accessible and affordable services help farmers increase productivity and improve yield quality, allowing them to access more competitive markets and demand differentiated pricing.
This translates into significant benefits for exporters. Ms. Byarugaba explained, “When exporters get good quality products, that means better forex for the country and it helps the balance of trade. Uganda imports more goods than we export. We need to increase our export volumes, but we need quality as well. VAM deals with all the above issues.”
The model encourages stronger relationships along the value chain, between farmers, traders, processors and cooperatives. Actors are incentivized to trust one another, honor agreements and maintain relationships season after season as they all benefit from farmers’ improved crops. Through this synergy, the Village Agent Model sustainably builds a more productive, resilient and inclusive agricultural system.
Following a successful pilot in 38 districts supported by the USAID Feed the Future Uganda Commodity Production and Marketing Activity, MAAIF decided to scale up the Village Agent Model and introduce it to county governments throughout the country. This rollout, however, required a larger workforce. Through the District Production and Marketing Officers, MAAIF mobilized village agents from different districts and ensured representation from each sub-county. Then, between February 25 and April 12, 2019, the Hub and Akorion trained 4,922 village agents and over 2,000 extension workers.
“The training was immeasurable,” said Komakech James, one of the village agent trainees. He added that the trainings on how to prepare a garden, obtain input supplies and access trade imparted knowledge that would secure “better prices for my produce, access to better farming practices and updated information on the current market trend.”
The Village Agent Model will replace Uganda’s current extension services system of parallel, institutionally fragmented public and non-state actors with a well-coordinated, harmonized and regulated pluralistic service. By instituting a system that can better meet farmers’ needs, Uganda’s agriculture sector will become more self-reliant and prosperous, enhancing its contribution to the country’s overall growth and development.