Sugeco graduates planning to introduce commercialize extension officer

28Dec 2021
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Sugeco graduates planning to introduce commercialize extension officer

LEADERSHIP of Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (Sugeco) is working on plans to come up with professional commercial extension officers in the country.

Sugeco board chairperson, Dr Anna Temu speaks to members during an annual general meeting last week. Photo: Correspondent Gerald Kitabu.

The objective is to contribute to government’s efforts to create more employment opportunities for youth, women and graduates of colleges and universities while increasing the number of extension officers in the market.

Sugeco members agreed during their annual general meeting held recently in Morogoro, that there is a need to commercialize extension services so that farmers can access the right and timely services from Sugeco graduates.

“The government alone cannot manage the extension services throughout the country to reach every farmer, we want to show that agriculture and its value chain is all about business. In fact this will create more employment, change the livelihood and transform the farmers,” said Sugeco’s Executive Director, Revocatus Kimario.

The members said the country is huge and the gap between demand and supply for extension officers growing hence the need for partial commercialization of the service. They said Sugeco has a role to play in addressing the shortfall to support the government’s efforts.

Kimario said Sugeco members will train graduate from SUA or any other agricultural colleges in the country to offer professional extension services which will be paid for by farmers with payment on quality and performance.

Citing an example, he said if you have a group of farmers who are farming rice and they are currently getting 20 bags per acre, then if they work with private extension officers and improve their yields, to 30 bags per acre, the farmer can get the first 20 bags he or she used to get and the remaining 10 surplus bags can be shared equally with the extension officer.

The Sugeco chief executive noted that such development will help other farmers to learn from their peers who had hired private extension officers. “Sugeco’s role in this arrangement will be to coordinate, train and equip them so that they provide the best services including being flexible and mobile to reach wherever they are,” he added.

He said there are many graduates who have returned from Israel and United States where they had undergone internships for a period of between 6-18 months who can be engaged to help farmers with new tools, knowledge and skills to run their farms profitably.

Explaining how this exercise will work and start, Kimario said it will depend on demand from the value chain with Sugeco targeting four value chain groups for maize, coffee, horticultural produce and poultry production. The service will start with the Eastern Zone, Southern Highlands and will later extend to other zones of the country.

“The youth are ready; they are energetic and dynamic, creative and very mobile. It’s for us to set up a plan and design the modal on how it will work effectively and efficiently,” he stated saying private extension officers will help speed up commercialization of agriculture in the country.

Earlier on while opening the AGM, a Cooperative Officer from Morogoro regional secretariat, Ester Kisiga urged youth, women and the general public to join forces with Sugeco’s vision to create more job opportunities through agribusiness adoption.

“Sugeco started from a humble stage, but through creativity, it has grown into one of the biggest cooperatives in the country. It has opened doors for every person from every corner of the country to join,” Kisiga said.

He also called on university and college graduates to come forward and join the cooperative so that they can benefit from different training programs such as internships in Israel and the US which are being run Sugeco in collaboration with partners.

“When the youth participate in one program, he or she will be capacitated in terms of hands-on knowledge and skills. The young boy or young girl will be able to start entrepreneurship or agribusiness ventures, employ himself, create jobs by employing other people,” she noted.

Speaking at the same event, Sugeco Board Chairperson Dr Anna Temu urged members to be active and build a culture of visiting their office regularly so that their information can be updated. “I urge you to be active and not only paying your fees. We need your current personal information such as where you work, what you do so that we understand you well and when you encounter any challenge we can be able to intervene immediately,” Dr Temu said.

She pointed out that recently, Sugeco announced key objectives and explained the meaning of Kizimba and how it works but unfortunately many people who attended were non members. “I urge you to be active and air your views so that together we can improve our daily activities and strategic plans,” she added. The AGM was attended by more than 300 members.