In the 1990s, developing countries, including Uganda, witnessed wide-ranging reforms in the agricultural sector. In Uganda, these reforms included, among others, liberalization of trade in agricultural inputs, services and output; privatization of state-owned enterprises that supported production and marketing; and downsizing of civil servants who provided extension services. The reforms had both positive and negative consequences. Some of the negative effects of the reforms were income inequality and an increase in the proportion of the very poor in the early 1990s (Muwanga 2001); the collapse of public extension, credit and marketing services (Semana 2004); and falling agricultural productivity, according to the Ministry of Agricultural, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF 2010).
To overcome the negative consequences of agricultural reforms, the government of Uganda, with support from the World Bank and other donors, restructured the country’s extension system, as part of the Plan for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA), from unified public extension to a public-private partnership (PPP) extension system. The reforms of the agricultural sector culminated in 2001 with the establishment of the National Agricultural Advisory Services Organization (through an act of Parliament, the National Agricultural Advisory Services Act of 2001) as a semiautonomous agency of the MAAIF, to manage the 25-year National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS) program.
In the PPP arrangement, the government contracts out extension services’ provision to private individuals and agencies, which were hailed as an efficient means of delivering services to only those farmers who would demand the service, hence creating a demand-driven extension system that would minimize costs (World Bank 2001). Moreover, under the PPP extension system, it is envisaged that the central government will initially shoulder a greater share of the cost of extension services provision but later gradually shift the cost to the local government and the farmers through their organizations— thus making extension services demanddriven by the private sector.