Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) challenges in national agricultural extension systems in Uganda: towards a new model
PPPs are considered as one of the ways to address the global challenges that require collective effort like climate change and food security. This has prompted African governments to recognise PPPs as one of the avenues for promoting effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability in public service delivery and sustainable development. The rationale for PPPs is that they provide higher quality goods and services at lower costs, they promote innovation and adapt to rapid change and are considered to apply entrepreneurial skills or a business case in service delivery. In 2001, the Government of Uganda implemented an innovative farmer owned private driven agricultural extension system which attracted significant government and development partner support. Despite all the investment and support, the principal-agent relationship was terminated before it evolved through its stages. The primary objective of this study was to establish the PPP challenges in National Agricultural Advisory Services in Uganda and to develop a new PPP model for agricultural extension. The study was guided by the principal-agent theory which supports the emergence of the private sector into the delivery of public services and how it has revolutionized public management and introduced new principal-agent governance structures. The study adopted an exploratory design because PPPs are relatively new in Uganda with little information available on research issues addressing their challenges in agricultural extension. A qualitative approach was employed to gather qualitative data through use document review and semi-structured interviews with snowball and purposively selected participants who had over 3 years‘ experience in the NAADS PPP agricultural extension programme. It was discovered that politics punctured the implementation of the PPP while gaps in the policy, legal and regulatory framework affected its evolution. In addition, the programme suffered challenges in contract and performance management. The programme also failed to meet accountability expectations of different stakeholders. The study recommends sector wide policies that support private sector emergence and involvement, establishment of a robust contract and performance management system. In addition, the study recommends an accountability system for PPPs in agriculture. Lastly, a Village Enterprise Agent Model using mobile technology and integrated into the public extension system is proposed for agricultural extension.