With the current population growth rate at 3.24% annually, total population expected to double in the next 20 years and youth continuing to shun agriculture, Uganda’s food security is at risk. The Ugandan labor market is able to absorb only 80,000 new workforce entrants out of the 400,000 youth entering the labor market each year. Youth represent 83% of the country’s unemployed. Yet youth engagement in agriculture is declining amidst rising youth unemployment levels.
According toMr. Khamutima Tumwebaze, significant gains are possible from more active engagement of youth members of farm families; youth represent more than 50% of the total farm population, from which less than 10% are currently paid for their efforts. “On-farm youth also face empowerment challenges; when working their parents’ land, less that 5% of youth report being able to make decisions regarding work and crop cultivation.” he asserts. However, he is more concerned about particular youth challenges like access to finance which he says is estimated to be only one third of other sector actors. “While youth are more likely to have access to land in the North, they lack the capacity to prepare it and lack access to basic machinery including oxen, tractors and common agricultural tools”, says Khamutima.
Block Farming Brings Youth Together.
YOFACO is mobilising youth in agriculture via the use of block farming. This one-year project, funded by Feed the Future’s Commodity Production & Marketing Activity (CPMA), targets 4,000 young maize and beans farmers in 10 districts across the four regions of Uganda. The project aims to establish a total of 160 block farms with 33 block farms already established in Mubende, Masindi, Oyam, and Lira.Follow @newslexpoint
The initiative is to act as an example to inspire fellow young people to engage in agriculture.
The program includes training of youth in agribusiness skills and group dynamics, assisting members in forming block farm groups, and linking them to competitive markets and agro input dealers for genuine products and in this aspect YOFACO has successfully linked its members to Pearl Seeds for contract farming of maize and beans seeds.
Initial results of the program are promising. Over 9,200 farmers have been trained on group dynamics, leadership and governance as well as in seed multiplication systems and good agricultural practice (GAP). Two tons of Longe 5 maize, three tons NABE 4 & NABE 15, 600Kg of DAP and Urea, 21 sackets of Victory 72 wp, and 4 litres of Weed All herbicide have been given out to 33 young farmers groups under the project. A total of 180 acres of maize and 106 acres of beans foundation seed have been planted in Mubende, Masindi, Oyam and Lira.
Practical member ervices: YOFACO’S Knowledge Exchange Program
YOFACO has exposed its members to new agricultural opportunities through hands-on farm visits and farmer-to-farmer knowledge sharing.
Youth Inspiring Each Other
YOFACO organises monthly coffee nights where people come and taste different blends of coffee with the objective of increasing local coffee consumption. Successful young farmers use this opportunity to share experiences and an influential person is there to provide advice to the hundreds of young farmers who have attended these events. This has also been an effective way to increase YOFACO membership.
Talent Development 2015, YOFACO put in place an initiative that focuses on the nurturing of talents of young farmers and agribusiness through sports – with the ultimate goal of creating business opportunities in the agriculture. This led to YOFACO winning the Uganda National Coffee Football Tournament, which came with several opportunities that included mass awareness, branding and exposure.
Access to finance is important for youth in agriculture and so is financial literacy. YOFACO is expanding young farmers’ financial literacy capacity by partnering with GIZ to promote Financial Literacy among the young farmers in Uganda.
In 2015, a TOT to train 24 YOFACO staff and members in Financial Literacy who are now training their farmers’ VSLA groups all over the country. In addition to that, financial literacy awareness campaigns including for the Muslim community. Two members of YOFACO have upgraded to certified financial literacy trainers recognized by bank of Uganda to further this cause of empowering young farmers with financial literacy skills.
Approaching Climate Change
YOFACO is concerned about the risks to Ugandan agriculture posed by climate change and is currently promoting climate smart agriculture among school children. This has included the formation of 8 young farmer clubs in different secondary schools and delivery of on-farm trainings for producers of passion fruit and coffee. Three YOFACO members have also been trained as District Climate Change champions.
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