Mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into agricultural extension cannot succeed unless the policy environment exists. First and foremost, there is need to sensitise Ministry officials in-charge of policy making to appreciate the rationale for mainstreaming HIV/AIDS messages into agricultural extension.
The study has pointed to information gaps, which ought to be put in consideration when designing HIV/AIDS messages for extension workers. The messages should as much as possible bring out the link between HIV/AIDS on agricultural production, and the link between HIV/AIDS and fishing. In particular, for HIV/AIDS and agricultural production, the messages should be able to help farmers in obtaining the following:
High yielding or improved seed varieties
Weed resistant crops
Non-labour intensive crops
Plant/animal diseases or pests
Improved farming husbandry skills
Post-harvest handling/storage of agricultural products
Marketing or prices
Training: The study findings have revealed that extension workers are not involved in HIV/AIDS work, and also are not equipped with relevant knowledge and skills to take on HIV/AIDS work. Extension workers need to be trained/sensitized so as to be empowered on how to deal with HIV/AIDS issues when dealing with the target populations. This would instill confidence among the extension workers on how to introduce and deal with HIV/AIDS issues in the ongoing activities. If HIV/AIDS is to be mainstreamed into agricultural extension, extension staff capacity building will be one of the first priority areas. Thus, capacity building for extension workers has to be carried out in the first phases of mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into extension work. In particular, the following aspects need to be emphasized:
HIV/AIDS communication and dissemination techniques
Communication and interpersonal skills; One informant noted, "in disseminating HIV/AIDS messages, language will pose serious problems as landing sites have got people of various ethnicity, each with a different language"
HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention
Opportunistic infections, and simple management
Basic counselling techniques and psychosocial support
Earlier it was indicated that HIV/AIDS affected families often lose morale to work as they witness the beloved members of the household deteriorating in health and eventually dying of HIV/AIDS related illnesses. This loss of morale is translated into low productivity as gardens, animals and fishing become neglected.
Mobilisation skills have much to do with the timing of disseminating HIV/AIDS messages to farmers and the fishing folk. For instance, using the seasonal calendars, it becomes
Nutritional issues for PLHA
Blood testing procedures and concept of protected sex.
All the extension staff met had undergone several training workshops and seminars. However, none of the seminars and workshops was reported to have focused on HIV/AIDS. Thus, as an entry point to streamlining HIV/AIDS into agricultural extension, training of extension agents through organized workshops
Logistical Support: Currently, the extension staff is faced with problems that impinge on their performance of designated activities. To mainstream HIV/AIDS into agricultural extension will necessitate logistical support for extension agents. Although support is obtained from the mother department, there are specific logistics that are required for HIV/AIDS work. These include visual aids/materials, training manuals, stationery, and transport where not available.
In mainstreaming HIV/AIDS into agricultural extension, IP/FAO and MAAIF have to enlist support and expertise from agencies and organizations, which are already involved in related HIV/AIDS activities. There is need to work closely with Uganda AIDS Commission (UAC) to identify potential resource agencies.
Education in nutrition from Uganda, ©FAO.