By Sarah Nabakooza
The gender ministry is committed to end unemployment among the youth in Uganda.
Speaking during the International Youth Day at Hotel Africana recently, Sarah Mateke, the state minister for youth, stressed that the Government is focusing on empowering the youth to take up agriculture to solve the challenge of unemployment.
“The Government is investing in the young people to take up agriculture as a key factor of solving the challenge of unemployment. A total of 30% of the Parish Development Model (PDM) funds have been allocated to the youth to innovate projects that generate income and improve their livelihood,” she said.
The day was celebrated under the theme Accelerating Recovery from COVID-19 and Full Implementation of the 2023 Agenda: The Role of Youth. She said Government is working with partners, such as AVSI Foundation, Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) and SNV Uganda, among others, to skill the youth in production and marketing.
She said the ventures will not only fight joblessness, but also enhance food security in the country.
Bashir Kasekende, the country project manager CRAFT, articulated the pivotal role that agriculture plays in Uganda’s economic landscape.
He said this financial year, the Government allocated sh110b to the sector, which underscored the significance of agriculture in national development.
According to Kasekende, Uganda’s population stands at 48 million, of which 78% are young people below 35. However, despite the sector’s potential, young individuals face a range of challenges when attempting to enter the agricultural field.
Phomolo Maphosa, the country director of SNV, said some of the obstacles include limited access to education, information and land; inadequate financial services, restricted market access and limited participation in policy discussions.
The event gathered more than 100 young people across the country, along with experts in the field of agriculture, to foster discussions and share opportunities, thus mitigating some of the barriers hindering youth involvement.
Maphosa said such engagements offer a platform to inspire, educate and empower young people to actively participate in agriculture and contribute to the nation’s progress.
Kasekende called on the Government, donor organisations, and development partners to invest in youth-led initiatives, which nurtures innovation and empowers them to build self-sustaining projects and facilitate youth engagement in policy formulation by enabling them to actively contribute to policy-making processes.
Jackie Arinda, the CEO of Jada Coffee, lauded development partners for providing opportunities for youth to access information, share ideas and recognise the profitability of agriculture.
Mackline Nayebare, the CEO of Mackarena Juice and Processors, attested to the transformative impact that came as a result of Skilling in Agripreneurship for Increased Youth Employment (SAY) project, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and implemented by AVSI Foundation on her business.
This enabled her to acquire machinery and significantly expand her production capacity, while also training numerous young individuals.