Youthful coffee farmers in Kasese have been urged to join agribusiness as one way to maximise their earnings.
The call was made a during a one-day training for business incubators in Kasese.
In an exclusive interview with this reporter, at the sidelines of the event, Apollo Segawa, the Executive Director for the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development [CURAD] noted that youths face several challenges making it in the coffee business.
”The majority of the youth don’t own land and have no access to capital,” he said, adding that agribusiness which does not necessarily require one to be involved in primary agriculture might be a good alternative.
He remarked that many youth prefer being nursery operators while some are interested in the tail end of the coffee value chain.
“We have shared opportunities with the youth in Kasese about coffee, starting from nursery operator to consumer use,” Segawa said.
Edward Tanyima , the National Coordinator for Decent Rural Youth Empowerment at the Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] revealed that 78% of the youth graduates aged 18-30 years remain on the streets looking for formal jobs, leaving agriculture for school dropouts and peasants .
“Educated young people should engage in agribusiness instead of leaving it only to the poor and illiterate,” he said.
Tanyima decried the practice of young people selling their small pieces of land in villages in order to buy boda bodas. Rather, he advised, they should pick interest in agriculture or find other investment opportunities and consider engaging in joint ventures with like-minded individuals.
Charles Katson, a coffee farmer argued for specialisation if the cash crop is to meet its potential in Kasese.
“We [coffee farmers] have not specialized in coffee. Most times it is mixed with other crops, and so it has not got as much attention from farmers as it deserves. As a result you can’t even identify coffee farmers. It is important to specialise in coffee,” Katson said.
Value addition key
Salveri Sunday, a young entrepreneur in the coffee sector encouraged youths to prioritise value addition along the coffee value chain.
For instance, the agripreneur revealed that he buys roasted coffee from Bukonzo Joint [Cooperative Union], crushes it, and adds pineapple, sorghum and bananas to make wine.
Sunday, who used to be a street child, has coffee agribusiness to thank for the transformation of his life.
“I was a street boy who used to eat from the dust bin of Margarita hotel but here am, I now employ more than 100 youth. I’ve even sat on the same table with the president of this country because of my entrepreneurship skills,” he said.
While closing the training, Kasese RDC Lt. Joe Walusimbi thanked the organisers for empowering the youth and called upon the attendees to use the knowledge acquired profitably.
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