|Farming on the Katrine Project, photo by www.theguardian.com|
As we always say that young people are the future of the world and there are the presidents of tomorrow as my class teacher audibly stated it more times than I could remember. In my view that is 100% true especially when you are from a country like Uganda where over 78% are below 30 years (Uganda Population Report 2012) thus the youngest population in the world. This has created one of the highest dependency ratios in the world which has lead to the vicious cycle of poverty in which many Ugandans are trapped.
Unemployment in Uganda is from 64% to 70% and with a quota of 400,000 youths released to compete for roughly 9,000 jobs. Semiskilled youths are having a rough time finding jobs as their institutionally qualified counterparts are at 30% certainty of getting one (ACODE, 2014). There is migration of youths from the rural to urban areas for work and this has affected social services in those areas. They have not been lucky in getting those jobs, this has lead to an increase to unemployed youth in urban areas, most of them are now associated with gambling and drug abuse. There is underutilization of labour in Uganda this has lead to a loss in education and training investment, low tax base, constraint in economic growth and high cost for social assistance ( MoGLSD, 2011)
Agricultural sector is the biggest employer in rural areas and youth have shun it in recent time preferring work in urban areas as low – wage labourers in industries, motorcycle riding and matutu(taxi) driving. Ugandan government is trying to promote agriculture by issuing soft loans and grants through programmes like National Agricultural Advisory Service (NAADS), Saving & Credit Cooperatives (SACCOs) and Youth Livelihood Fund. The issue of mindsets has to be adjusted for the unemployed youth to benefit from the various programmes of NAADS, SACCOs and Market Stalls (Ocici, 2014). There has been some improvement due to the stable economic growth, where the poverty rates have reduced from 56% in 1992/93 to 22% in 2011/12 (World Bank, 2015)
Just imagine attracting young people into agriculture which employs over 80% of the 34 million people, Uganda would be able to feed the world. So far the above is impossible but with the right mentorship, training and partnership, I believe young people can transform agriculture. What young people have done in Nigeria can be replicated in Uganda to promote agribusiness. Inspired by this story How To Promote Youth-Led Agribusiness Society