Involving Youth in Agriculture to end unemployment

Kampala –  Youths constitute up to 77percent of Uganda’s population with the majority aged under 25. This quietly translates to an intriguing question of employment in the national.

The representation of the youth edifies the need to involve them in powering the wheel that will elevate Uganda’s economic development; paving way for an all-inclusive strife to create a difference that will translates to improved livelihoods.

In Uganda, youth unemployment is growing, with each year, 400,000 youth enter the labour market and compete for only 80,000 formal jobs. 75 percent of the workforce and 55 percent of youth in Uganda are engaged in the agriculture sector, and Uganda is addressing youth unemployment, in part, by creating more opportunities for rural youth to become involved in the sector.

The government continues direct efforts to commercialize and liberalise the agricultural sector build momentum for youthful budding farmers to join agro-business. – evidently statistics do not lie.

The agricultural sector registered improved growth rates from 2.8% in FY 2015/16 to 5% in FY 2018/19. Remarkable improvements were especially observed in the food crops sub-sector (maize, cassava and bananas) that grew at an average of 3.7%.

The cash crop sub-sector (coffee, cocoa, cotton, tea) average growth rate of 6.4% and the livestock sector at 2.1%. The fisheries sub-sector recovered from a slump of -2.1% in 2017/18 to 11.3% in 2018/19, due to strict enforcement of fishing regulations.

A close look at the optics, the key to powering the agricultural sector lies heavily on the youths (young, disruptive and entrepreneurial) to tackle the unemployment vice. 

In the just concluded manifesto week, the government clarified the progress registered in the economic transformation and tackling unemployment – highlighting the opportunities created.

The government revealed how they had expedited trade, business and job creation through the various initiative and fostering aids to trade

Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing (65%). Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.

Furthermore, 38% of persons in employment were in paid employment with a higher proportion of males (46%) compared to females (28%). The Agricultural sector accounted for the largest share of employment (36%).

This is a clear indication of the potential of the agriculture sector in empowering the youths and improving their livelihoods.

Access to value addition and auxiliary services has been enhanced to improve prices/rates offering the farmers an opportunity to generate capital for re-investment in agriculture – a resource that motivates them and opens windows to better produce that in turn attracts good prices on the world market upon export.

Minimizing Post Harvest Losses:

Warehouse and Warehousing Infrastructure Standard for Bagged Pulses and Grains has been developed and disseminated.

Quality Assurance Equipment has been provided as common user facilities to assist SMEs carry out Quick Professional quality analysis of their commodities to ensure competitiveness.

In efforts to offset quality questions, Standards of eighteen (18) commonly traded products have been reviewed & harmonised to mitigate rejects at regional level (EAC) and beyond thus mitigating losses.

Industrialisation to drive lucrative Agriculture, value addition

In efforts to drive agro-entrepreneurship, up to Nine factories were commissioned at Liao Shen Industrial Park in Kapeeka. The commissioned factories manufacture, Agricultural products, food items, electrical appliances, shoes and fishnets.

In one of the manifesto achievements, Bukona agro-processors sugar factory and distillery at Lapem village, Koch Goma in Nwoya District was launched in March 2020. The factory has a Green fuel which produces energy stoves that use ethanol got from processed cassava. These are sample achievements of the NRM government in driving value addition in the sector.

Commercializing Agriculture:

Whilst addressing the nation on the commemoration of Labour State House Entebbe, President Museveni revealed that the government has the capacity to create 70 million jobs if the message of commercialized agriculture is taken seriously.

“We are going to create the jobs; the problem is the reluctance to take our advice which has worked. The jobs are there but they will only come in big numbers if we listen to NRM’s principle of social-economic transformation,” President Museveni said.

President Museveni made the estimation of 10 million homesteads in Uganda, of which at least 7million are in rural areas with access to some land.

“Let us take it that 7 million homesteads have access to an acre of land at least because even calculative agriculture can blossom on an acre. I have proof from a man called Nyakana in Fort Portal, he is doing wonders on an acre.  Problems come when you have no kibalo (calculation),” he said.

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