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Youth urged to invest in agriculture

Antonio Querido, Country Representative of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in Uganda has appealed to the youth to invest along the agricultural value chains as a measure to reduce growing youth unemployment in the country.

Querido made the observation yesterday during the launch of the second round of the Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture (YIYA) initiative at the Uganda Media Centre.

“Reports indicate that many capable and productive youth in Uganda tend to shun agriculture due to the risks involved, its intensive nature and low profitability,” he said. 

He pointed out that it will be difficult for investment and development to generate sufficient jobs to absorb Uganda’s large and growing youth population, adding:

“If we are to make substantial progress towards attaining national and global aspirations for sustainable development, it’s important to engage and reengage the youth in productive enterprises like agriculture and agribusiness.” 

He said that FAO in Uganda is working with various stakeholders to address the issue of youth unemployment through a number of interventions aimed at tackling poverty eradication, reducing food insecurity, climate change mitigation and eliminating gender disparities, aimed to promote value addition to benefit enterprises of young people.

The Minister of State for Fisheries, Hon. Hellen Adoa said that government, with support from FAO launched in 2017 the National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture to guide state and non-state actors in creating decent employment for youth in Agriculture.

The YIYA initiative, a nationwide competition aimed at promoting youth employment in the agricultural sector by fostering role models of youth agriprenuers, was launched in 2017 in partnership with the National Technical Coordination Platform and the ministry of Agriculture. 

Adoa said that through the initiative, 25 of the best youth agriprenuers were selected and awarded with cash and technical training as Round One Youth Champions. 

“Due to the success of Round One of the YIYA initiative, the National Technical Coordination Platform is again inviting youth aged 18-35 to take part in of the YIYA initiative 2020. This model has proved successful and we would like to scale up the youth champions to become part of a nation-wide mentorship program,” Adoa said.

The Uganda National Household Survey of 2017 indicates that 75.2% of Uganda’s population is below 30 years. However, many of these young people are either unemployed or under-employed, a situation that the FAO Representative to Uganda believes could be reversed through investment and re-engagement of the youth in Agricultural value chains.

To participate in the second round of the YIYA initiative 2020, youths have been urged to register with District Production and Marketing Officers, district offices of Uganda National Farmers Federation or on the website of Young Farmers Champions Network.

For Khamutima Tumwebaze, a youthful coffee farmer in Western Uganda, member of Mpororo SACCO in Rukungiri and CEO of the Young Farmers Champions Network, the biggest challenge to youth in Uganda is access to financing and inadequacy in the technical knowledge necessary to operate youth enterprises.

“Access to capital and financing is a limitation most young farmers,” he said.

“We are working to support young people come up with innovative business plans, keep proper records and be investment ready because financial institutions don’t invest in high risk areas. So, we try to reduce the risk by organizing young people,” Tumwebaze said.

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