The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Frank Tumwebaze, has urged the youth to take advantage of the opportunities offered under the Parish Development Model (PDM) and start income-generating activities, especially in commercial farming.
Tumwebaze, who was accompanied by the animal industry state minister Bright Rwamirama, was addressing leaders in Kiruhura district during the ongoing sensitisation drive for the PDM across the country.
He told the leaders that the PDM is aimed at bringing resources (money) closer to the people for wealth creation and the fund is going to be revolving to enable many people to benefit.
The minister advised the people of Kiruhura to engage in the production of fast-maturing crops such as cabbage, hot pepper, tomatoes and onions in addition to the traditional crops like coffee and bananas and dairy farming which is a major enterprise in the region.
“Land is a universal factor to the success of the PDM. Due to the limited land in the region, I advise you especially the youth to grow crops that do not require large pieces of land, mature quickly and are profitable with a focus on vegetables,” Tumwebaze said.
He warned the people to desist from formation of adhoc groups with the aim of accessing the funds under PDM to use them on non-developmental things. He advised the leaders at all levels to monitor and follow up the groups which are going to benefit from the PDM program to ensure that they are genuine.
Tumwebaze advised the youth to take advantage of the opportunities that the PDM has to offer and ensure that they are not left out.
He was responding to a complaint raised by the Western Youth MP Edson Rugumayo who said the youth are not given special attention in the PDM programme, yet they form the biggest percentage of Uganda’s population and workforce.
Rugumayo intimated that following the scrapping of some youth programs like the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP) in favour of the PDM, Government needs to give special attention to the youth in the PDM to ensure that they are not left out.
Tumwebaze advised the youth to work closely with their leaders at all levels especially those on the PDM committee and ensure that their interests are catered for in the allocation of resources.
During the same function, Tumwebaze flagged off the distribution of 540 in-calf heifers to youth leaders at the local government councils in fulfilment of a pledge by President Yoweri Museveni to support youth leaders with heifers for improved household food security and income.
The President made the pledge to the youth leaders during the presidential campaign trail in 2021 when he met them to discuss several issues concerning the youth in the country. In fulfilment of the pledge, the Government, through the National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), procured the first batch of 540 in-calf heifers targeting 540 youth leaders in 135 district local governments (DLGs), 11 cities and 56 municipalities.
In each district and city, three people on the youth council were selected to benefit and these include the chairperson of the district/city youth council, the secretary for finance, and the secretary for women affairs. At the municipality level, distribution of the heifers will begin with the chairpersons of the division/municipality youth council.
While flagging off the heifers, Tumwebaze cautioned the youth beneficiaries to manage the animals very well saying it was enough start-up ‘ntandikwa’ that the Government has given them to improve their household incomes.
Rwamirama also advised the beneficiaries on proper management of dairy cows, saying they can only give you what you have invested them. He said if the animals are well fed and cared for, they will give the youth more milk.
The chairperson of the National Youth Council, Jacob Eyeru, commended the Government through NAADS for partially fulfilling the presidential pledge and asked for full implementation by ensuring that all the 18 youth leaders in every district receive the heifers as promised by the president.
“I thank Government for availing the 540 heifers for the three youth leaders in every district, municipality and city and its my prayer that resources are availed to NAADS to ensure that the remaining heifers are procured so that all the 18 youth leaders benefit,” Eyeru said.
Maguta Byabutaho, the chairperson of Kazo district youth council, who received the in-calf heifer at Kiruhura district headquarters, appreciated NAADS for giving him the dairy cow and pledged to take good care of it to increase his household income and become a model to the youth in his district.
Grace Kazigati, an agribusiness development officer with NAADS who represented the executive director of NAADS, said all the beneficiaries of the 540 heifers were trained in dairy cattle management.
During the training, the youth leaders were equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, and information required to effectively manage dairy cattle projects as well as to orient their mindset towards farming as a business.
“NAADS, together with MAAIF and the district local governments, we organised a three-day training for all the beneficiaries, and we believe that the knowledge and skills they obtained will help them to take good care of the animals and get value for the sh1.5b invested in these heifers,” Kazigati said. Delivery and distribution of the heifers to the youth leaders has commenced in all the 176 beneficiary local governments.