Youth reject handouts, debate development options

Caps: Left to right: Ms Judith Babirye, the woman MP for Buikwe, sings as singer Bobi Wine, the MP Kasese Municipality, Mr Centenary Robert, US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac and Rakai Woman MP Juliet Kinyamatoma, dance along during the annual youth festival at Makerere University last Saturday.

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The role models. US Ambassador advised youth to work hard if they are to achieve desired goals


The need for youth to engage in agriculture was the major highlight of the 2016 youth festival as young people sought answers combating the high levels of youth unemployment in the country.

Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world yet youth unemployment stands at more than 75 per cent. The World Bank projects about 500,000 people entering the labour market every year in Uganda with 64 per cent of the unemployed aged 24 and under.

Under the theme: “Engaging young people in agricultural value chains: opportunities, success stories and key policy recommendations”, the more than 3,000 participants according to organisers discussed how they can gainfully engage in agriculture, a predominant sector of employment in the country.

The youth drawn from different parts of the country, including universities and the informal sector, made several recommendations, including changing their mind-set on agriculture and creating opportunities in the sector that make agriculture attractive to the youth.

“We don’t want handouts from government,” said Mr Bunnya Wakibu, the Team Leader at Open Space Centre, “What we want is a youth partnership with government and other stakeholders to support young people live to their full potential.”

Speaking at the event, US Ambassador to Uganda Deborah R. Malac urged the youth to “develop careers in finance, marketing, logistics, and many other areas that support agricultural production- and help add value to products, develop the economy and create jobs for thousands of more Ugandans.”

Through the Feed the Future Youth Leadership for Agriculture programme, the US envoy said her government was trying to leverage Uganda’s enormous potential in agriculture.
“In four districts, we are working with youth to demonstrate that a career in farming is both rewarding and prosperous- and doesn’t just mean spending time working in the field,” said.

She, however, said the youth in Uganda had to work hard with commitment if they were to achieve any desired goals.

“The jobs, the prosperity, and the opportunities that you seek-none of them are going to appear magically before you. No one- not your government, the United States, or anyone else- are just going to hand them to you. You will have to work for them,” she said.
Narrating her journey from music to parliament, Buikwe District Woman MP Judith Babirye urged the youth to pursue goals beyond their individual careers.

The celebrated singer, who said she takes farming seriously, asked the youth to find time to visit her farm.

Singer Bobi Wine, who together with Ms Babirye, entertained the youth with their various hits urged the youth to rise up to the occasion and get involved in the affairs of their country.

“13 years, since I graduated here I have never got a job for what I studied. I think it is a good thing and that is why I come back to you, to tell you that we should actively get involved in the affairs of our country,” he said.