The Ugandan population is mainly comprised of youth with about 78% of the population below the age of 30 years. An uncomfortably big majority of these youth find themselves entrenched in unemployment.
This number is bound to increase if the rate at which institutions of higher learning are churning out fresh graduates continues to exceed the rate at which new jobs are being created.
We have seen chronic unemployment among the youth incite unrest in several countries like South Africa and Brazil. For that reason, it is imperative that Uganda meets this challenge head on before it escalates.
Agriculture should be one of the livelihoods emphasised as a strategy for addressing the problem of youth unemployment. There is notable reluctance for the said youth to engage in agriculture, a topic with which many articles have attempted to theorise and diagnose the cause.
One undeniable fact stands out: farmers are as passionate as we are about the potential for agriculture to transform the youth of this country. Below are suggested ways the country can attract more youth into farming;
Farmers in school outreach
The high attendance of youth brought to the trade shows by their schools is an encouragement. One commercial farmer says she proactively engages schools and requests permission to speak with students about agriculture, its importance and the future opportunities that exist.
It is more strategic to have their children intimately aware and engaged in the agribusiness process from beginning to end (i.e. from working in the field, harvesting, transporting crops to the market, selling crops in the market, to receiving money to pay their school fees…). Youth would benefit from this form of apprenticeship, gaining agricultural skills in addition to their academic education.
Thus, they would be in position to take the agribusiness to the next level if they elect to work in the agricultural sector.
Too often the youth find themselves wandering around Kampala, unable to successfully secure a job upon completing their studies. Parents can provide another option by supporting an agricultural ‘start-up’ project.
The youth could work part of the parents’ land to further develop their hands-on experience in agriculture and keep the money they earn. With the right guidance, they can invest the money they save by purchasing land of their own and expanding their agricultural projects.
In the agricultural sector, clusters are organised according different agricultural products.
The cluster generously invests their time to share their expertise with anyone, especially the youth, who contact them and express a genuine interest in gaining knowledge. Not only does the trainee benefit, but the cluster benefits with the possibility of gaining a new member that would lead to the increased income of the entire group.
Nothing, however, can be more powerful than youth engaging youth. The youth will be more receptive and willing to follow suit if they hear their peers sharing their success.
Moreover, putting into place some kind of agricultural incubation system needs where youth can learn agriculture entrepreneurship skills, like cost benefit analysis and practical farming, would set the youth up for even greater success.
With all these brilliant ideas, and even more out there, we hope those reading this can make them into a new reality that engages the youth to take up the mantel and lead the way for the prosperity of the agriculture sector.