Nutrition education competencies of agricultural extension workers in Uganda

Purpose: To determine the nutrition competency level and training needs of agricultural extension workers (AEWs) in Uganda. Design/Methodology/Approach: A cross-sectional survey was conducted in four districts with 61 private and 163 public AEWs. Data were collected using self-administered structured questionnaires and analysed using means, Chi-square and Mean Weighted Discrepancy Score. Findings: AEWs require 9 core competence domains: Basic nutrition; Nutrition needs of household members; Hygiene and sanitation; Post-harvest handling; Planning and resource allocation among others. AEWs were above average competence in most (8) competency domains. Private AEWs perceived themselves to be more competent ((X = 4.26) than the public AEWs (X = 3.77), χ2 (224) = 20.1182, p = < 0.01). Prioritized needs by public and private AEWs were; Understanding nutrition needs of different household members, Farming systems that promote nutrition and Postharvest handling and food safety. Practical Implications: Pre-service and in-service training of AEWs should focus on the identified core competence domains and the priority training needs respectively, depending on the organization contexts. Theoretical Implications: This study demonstrates that the competency profile of AEWs should include community based nutrition education. Situations where private AEWs have higher capacity than their public sector counterparts, present an opportunity for cross-learning. Originality/Value: Community based nutrition education has been traditionally the mandate of health sector ministries, and the capacity requirements of AEWs who are not nutrition experts has been contested. This study provides empirical evidence regarding nutrition education competence needs of AEWs to enable them ably complement other sectors in multi-sectoral nutrition policy contexts
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East Africa
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