Despite the growing youth unemployment in Uganda, agriculture, a sector that would have filled the gap, is largely shunned by the youth. This poses a challenge not only to growing unemployment but also food security.
It is against this background that the Uganda National Youth in Agriculture and Agribusiness and Excel Hort Consult, an agribusiness incubation hub, has moved to start agribusiness clubs in institutions of learning starting with primary to universities and colleges. Their aim is to encourage youth to embrace agriculture.
During the official launch of these clubs in Mbarara Town recently, Clinton Oyesigye, the president Uganda National Youth in Agriculture and Agribusiness, said they want to encourage youth to join the agriculture sector for employment and social-economic transformation.
“Not many youth see agriculture as a venture that can transform their livelihood. Many have instead gone into petty trade and riding boda bodas,” he said adding that even the youth who opt for agriculture in school do it as a subject to pass exams.
“In some schools, the young people are driven into school farms as a punishment which ends up inculcating in them a negative view of agriculture,” Oyesigye asserts.
On his part, Excel Hort Consult director general, Prof Alex Ariho, said the partnership is intended to get as many youth as possible to drive the agricultural sector through giving them skills and nurturing in production, marketing and value addition.
“They need to know that agriculture can be a viable sector from where you can earn at a young age and one you do not need to abandon when grown. We need to change the mentality of seeing agriculture as a means of producing food for home consumption only,” said Prof Ariho.
He said they will be engaging club members and offering skills and technologies on irrigation, improved seeds, fertilisers and pests and disease control.
Clubs have already been established in about 10 schools including Rwentanga Farm Institute, Kashari Secondary School, Kakiika Primary School and Kabale Brainstorm.