Over 5,000 youth in the West Nile and Gulu are destined to benefit from a euro 150m (sh569b) project aimed at empowering them with skills to improve agriculture production.
The Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU), a project funded by the Government, the European Union and other development partners, will boost farmers’ incomes and create networks for them to easily transport their products to the market.
The initiative, which is being implemented by Advance Africa, a non-government organisation with offices countrywide, is also targeting the eradication of poverty and malnutrition in West Nile and Gulu.
Advance Africa has since translated literature used in training the youth into local languages.
Supervised by the office of the Prime Minister, the project is bound to revolutionize the entire chain of production and improve youth livelihoods through farming.
To ensure quality of the agricultural products, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has also been brought on board.
“The benefactors will be equipped with knowledge of the existing 4,500 standards and norms that govern the entire national production system in languages spoken in the country now to include Alur and Acholi,” Andrew Othieno, the UNBS standards development programme enforcement officer, said.
Owing to the initiative, agricultural products, like local eggs, sesame paste, soybeans, groundnuts, fish and free-rang chicken are destined to grace the shelves of supermarkets in Uganda and across the world.
If upgraded to the required standards, the farmers will get better prices and reduce post-harvest losses, Othieno said.
“The package should include detailed information, such as country of origin, net weight, grade, storage instructions and more,” Othieno said, adding: Markets are now very particular about how and where the product they are consuming is coming from.”
Presenting the final product of the translated literature to UNBS, the lead co-coordinator of Advance Africa, Shelia Innocent, described the venture in Gulu and West Nile as a magic bullet.
“It is targeting mainly the youth who are vulnerable to HIV, unwanted pregnancies, early marriages, drug abuse, prostitution, human trafficking, organ transplant and dependence,” Innocent said.
Innocent added that the youth need support to produce quality products, citing honey through beekeeping, egg from poultry, pork from pigs and milk from livestock, among others.
“The benefactors are for instance being taught that eggs should get to the market clean, in uniform size, colour, and at a given time,” she said.
“Do not contaminate your harvest by drying it on bare ground. And when one opts to use solar or electrical appliances, there are parameters that are required during production.”
UNBS senior standards officer Pamela Akwap said: “There are guide brochures in 23 different local languages. The gospel being preached is that it is no longer a matter of flooding the market with products like Odi (sesame paste) moringa, avocado, jack fruit and hot pepper without standards.”