Written by Valerie Anemba
Young people around the world play a critical role in the future of agriculture. According to the FAO, 60% of the global population depend on agriculture for survival. However, the average age of farmers in the world is currently around 60 years old. At Producers Direct, we aim to encourage and support youth networks from across our Centre of Excellence (CoE) to be involved in agribusiness activities. This can help to change young people’s negative perception of farming, whilst also motivating them to become young entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. In this regard, the CoE youth network at Kayonza in collaboration with Producers Direct, organized a ‘youth in agribusiness’ convention. With an overall objective of motivating youth into joining agribusiness for sustainable development, the convention sought to reinforce the participation of young women and men at the local level to become meaningful actors of agricultural transformation.
The convention was a 7-day event in south-western Uganda that brought together 25 youths from across East Africa. The event commenced with an inspirational forum at Kayonza and afterwards they travelled to Bushenyi district for farm and factory tours, finally travelling back to Kayonza for a regional policy forum. The youth participated in various activities, including a farmer-led training on farm diversification innovations and space utilizations. Through these training sessions, the participants were shown how they could grow diverse crops and enterprises on small acres of land. They visited organizations such as NIFADEC (Ntungamo Intergrated Farm and Diversification Centre) which is a family-owned farm that inspires farmers to diversify in different enterprises, especially, the adoption of coffee farm management and planning.
Additionally, they toured the ACPCU factory where they learnt about the coffee value chain, coffee-cupping and the involvement of youth and women in coffee farming. Furthermore, they went for a farm visit to an ACPCU promoter farmer’s farm, where they participated in a practical training regarding climate-smart agribusiness such as using biogas as a renewable source of green energy and as a high-quality organic fertilizer as well as using the bio-slurry as manure, which is much more beneficial than ordinary manure, as its odorless and pest-repellent. The youth learnt that through climate-smart farming they can attain greater yields using less farm space and money.
The event concluded with a regional policy convention that was attended by community leaders and highlighted the overview of the status quo of youth engagement in agribusiness, at Kanungu district. The youths also shared their success stories as young farmers and launched an agribusiness campaign dubbed “putting food on the table and money in the pocket”.
In conclusion, the ‘youth in agribusiness’ convention was very successful in achieving its objective of encouraging youth involvement in agribusiness. Their exposure to diverse innovative agricultural enterprises, crop-diversification, and climate-smart agribusiness, has helped to inspire them to discover ways that they can play key roles in sustaining and modernizing the agricultural sector. The convention has given these young agripreneurs the impetus to interact and encourage other youths in their own communities to change their perception about farming. They can now share their own success stories and prove that agribusiness is a great source of income and employment among young people. As stated by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the 2017 World Food Prize laureate, ‘the future of African youths lies in agriculture’.