By Faith Barbara Namagembe, Brondon Abraham Ssennono & Joshua Mulindwa updated at 2033 EAT on Thursday 28th Oct 2021
KAMPALA- The minister of State for Kampala and Metropolitan Affairs, Hon Kabuye Kyofatogabye through his representative Lillian Nakkazi, Administrator at the office of the Minister on Wednesday launched a Youth Empowerment and Development in Commercial Agriculture Project (YEDCA) at Nakawa Division Hall under a theme “Refinancing youth businesses to strengthen youth involvement in Agribusiness.”
Delivering his key note address she stated; “I wish to convey my sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all our development partners: AGRO FRESH, POST BANK, YOUTH COALITION FOR SDGs, and UGANDA FARMERS’ FEDERATION for the initiative to support the youth who are interested in participating in Agriculture for the uplifting of their livelihoods. I also wish to thank the youth leaders of Nakawa Division as well as the youth of this area for having readily embraced the program when my office approached them.”
This intervention is indeed very timely because it is addressing a subsector where the youth can be engaged in a variety of activities and circumstances in which their interest can be piqued and they can be trained to become active and not passive market actors. It is important to note that the youth are very easily attracted to the agricultural sector most especially the quick but not easy money side of agriculture such as vegetable and fruit growing. However, the lack of support for this age bracket as well as the urban farming sector has hindered many from participating in agriculture.
The demand for organic agricultural produce is on the increase worldwide and yet it cannot be fully met by the local suppliers. Those that are engaged in the sector are earning up to 3000USD per month and still, the demand is still great. This has led to a need to come up with innovative interventions to the approach towards Agriculture from the tradition i.e owners of miles of land are the only ones accessing financing and yet it is possible to have small holder farmers coming together and bridging the agricultural products gap. When I say this intervention is timely, it is indeed timely!!
As we come up with all these youth inclusiveness interventions, it is very important that we understand the target we want to support, to work with and do business with. It is also prudent to define them and know who they are along with their characteristics relating to business and background. Equally important for us all is to realize that the youth are between 75%-85% of the population. But they have been stereo – typed into get – rich – quick schemers. The youth leaders will testify to the incorrectness of this stereotyping. In order for us to successfully work with these youth, we must break the stereotyping and work with them at their level. Get to know them, their constraints, their desires and the direction they would like to take the project instead of dictating our ideas on them. It is imperative that they become active and not passive market actors
It is therefore important that as we deliberate on the enhancement of the financing aspects of youth in agriculture that a holistic approach is adapted to address key constraints that negatively influence /sway the sector. Once these are addressed, the sector will be influenced by the youth and the key market players will make it far more vibrant and dynamic. The agreed upon approach will thus positively influence the market actors and facilitate growth.
Let us together examine the constraints that the youth have faced in their journey in agribusiness:
Access to Inputs, Irrigation and institutional support, Lack of information, Market engagement and linkages, Engagement on platforms (inclusion and participation both digital and physical), Synergies, Group leadership and dynamics, Sectoral engagements and support, Social, mindset and behavioral changes, Extension services, Financial Literacy and Access, Unfriendly policies and attitudes towards the youth and Limited awareness creation on access to products/support.
He wished them fruitful deliberations and thanked them.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of AgroFresh Uganda, Mr Laban Joshua, an account the Organiser of the youth Empowerment and Development in Commercial Agriculture Project Launch, said he has been in farming for over years now and he understands the language of money.
“With the statistics, youths are over 75% of Uganda’s population which is a big deal and needs to be focused on. Approximately, 3-5% are involved in the commercial farming.This means, in areas of 75%, we only have 3-5% and the percentage is not that big. So we need to proceed and ofcourse there is a need fined out why we have less than 5% of the youth involved the commercial farming.
We have the new years agenda of 2030 for Sustainable Development Programs and therefore,we normally read the reports and fined out why the youth of the vulnerable group are not engaging themselves in agriculture.thrre was an identification that these youths have various challenges.That is say,
2.Lack of enough training skills
3.Fake agricultural goods.
These are the pillars that made me stand out for Uganda.