YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE FOR DEVELOPMENT WORKSHOP REPORT
OCTOBER 17TH 20
The Youth in Agriculture for Development workshop organised by the Initiative for Youth Empowerment and Transformation (IYET) brought together over 80 participants to share insights into youth-led agricultural transformation for economic development. Participants included government ministries, departments and agencies, development partners, national and international NGOs, private sector, academia and youth.
The workshop was opened by the Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs, Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, who mentioned that the workshop on youth in agriculture could not come at a more opportune time given the glaring challenge of widespread youth unemployment in Uganda.
At the workshop, all participants agreed that youth-led agricultural transformation is possible, but requires addressing the bottlenecks that limit youth participation in agriculture including: attitude towards agriculture, access to finance, availability of youth-friendly extension services, skills development and an enabling environment.
Participants had a feel of the employment situation, challenges and opportunities for young people in agriculture. In addition, participants were presented with the policies, programs and strategies that support youth employment in agriculture. What is required to create impact is coordination of efforts of all involved stakeholders in support of youth-focused initiatives; leverage market linkages with private sector; facilitate technical training and extension support; create economies of scale through youth groups; and change mind-sets, among others.
The drivers of youth-led agricultural transformation discussed at the workshop include: access to finance; access to information; investment in research and development; creation of an enabling environment for private sector to succeed; youth inclusion in development processes; formation and strengthening youth groups; and increasing agricultural education.
To create a responsive policy environment for youth-led enterprises, informal and formal youth structures need to be involved in policy design and implementation. Youth should be seen as partners and not just beneficiaries, which creates trust between youth and the government.
Within a responsive environment, there must be strengthened youth involvement and competitiveness in agricultural value chains and market systems. In order to achieve this, it is important to: include the private sector in youth programming, establish demonstration farms for youth; encourage youth groups to capitalize on the benefits of collective action; provide market oriented skills development and training; and invest in mind-set transformation, among others.
Access to finance remains a significant challenge to youth participation in agriculture. Therefore to improve financial inclusion of youth in Uganda, the workshop participants recommended: value chain financing; linking Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLA) to banks; increasing youth financial literacy; and use of technology to aid saving.
Negative attitudes towards agriculture is a critical challenge to youth participation in agriculture. Stakeholders need to invest in mind-set/behaviour change among the youth in Uganda for sustainable youth-led agricultural transformation. Mindset transformation starts at early childhood development, and must continue through the primary and secondary education of young people.
At the end of the workshop, participants wrote down commitment letters regarding how they will continue to support youth in agriculture.
Uganda has one of the world’s youngest populations – 77% under the age of 30 years, and 23% of the population between 18 and 30 years. Uganda’s large population of youth highlights the challenge of youth unemployment which is a key barrier to development in Uganda, and an important policy concern. However, the growing youth population in Uganda represents enormous opportunity for economic growth and social development.
The high youth population is an opportunity for a youth-led driving force in agriculture and agribusiness enterprises that would contribute to transformation of Uganda’s sub-national and national economy. Moreover, agriculture is receiving attention not only as an important contributor to GDP, but also as a major sector that can offer solutions to youth unemployment in Uganda.
Youth face many challenges in engaging in agriculture and agribusiness including inadequate access to land, lack of credit, improved technologies, practical skills, good quality inputs, reliable markets, to list a few. Prioritizing investment in youth in agriculture, and in agricultural transformation by providing both farm and off-farm opportunities along the value chain, is important for leveraging on agricultural transformation for economic development. In addition, investment in youth employment, education and skills training, sexual and reproductive health, mindset change, can turn the large youth population into a driving force for positive transformation and growth in all sectors.
As youth are a key resource for economic development, adequate strategies must be put in place so that Uganda can reap a demographic dividend from its declining mortality and fertility rates. There is therefore need to provide clear, coherent and practical pathways for engaging youth in agriculture through developing and implementing youth-friendly agricultural policy plans and initiatives.
In realizing the challenges of Uganda’s high youth unemployment, and recognizing the opportunities for youth in agriculture, this multi-stakeholder workshop focused on discussions to generate evidence and learning aimed at turning the high youth population into a driving force for economic development through agricultural transformation.
- To identify drivers and evidence gaps for youth led agricultural transformation and economic development
- To explore pathways that will ensure effective participation of youth in agriculture through enabling policies and programmes
- To create synergies, networks and coordination of efforts of stakeholders who support youth in agriculture and review alignment to government programs
The Youth in Agriculture for Development workshop was attended by about 80 participants, who were invited from Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Development Partners, NGOs, Private sector actors, Academia, Youth and Media. Participants started arriving as early as 7:30 am. Upon registration, each participant was handed an IYET workshop information pack, and a card on which participants wrote down the key intervention and geographical areas of their operation, as well as their expectations. The meeting started with an icebreaker, participants were asked to introduce themselves to their neighbors and identify three things they have in common.
The meeting was opened by Mr. Francis Kisirinya, the Chairperson of the IYET, who is the Director Corporate Services, Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU). He welcomed the participants, and thanked them for honoring the invitation to the workshop themed youth in agriculture for development. Mr. Kisirinya introduced his colleagues serving on the IYET committee as follows:
- Ogwang Yafeesi – Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries
- Marcelina Busomoke – National Youth Council
- Francis Arinaitwe – Youth Representative
- Kisa Kasifa – Youth Representative
- Godfrey Wamani Bagamba – Ministry of Education and Sports, Science and Technology (MOEST)
- Pamela Kabahesi (Secretary of the committee) – Office of the Prime Minister (OPM)
- Richard Adiradira -Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC)
- Gabriel Karubanga Amooti – Makerere University
- Etyang Naphtal – The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) CLUSA International -Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (YETA)
- Jane Lowicki-Zucca – Goal Uganda-Driving Youth-led New Agribusiness and Microenterprise (DYNAMIC)
- Judith Mutabazi – National Planning Authority (NPA)
- Cyprian Mugisa –Uganda Manufacturers Association (UMA)
- Sanyu Phiona – Development Research and Training (DRT)
- Johnson Kagugube – Development Research and Training (DRT)
- Peace Nganwa – Development Research and Training (DRT)
Mr. Kisirinya gave an overview of the Initiative for Youth Empowerment and Transformation (IYET) as an advocacy and dialogue group associated with Youth Forward initiative, a program being implemented in Ghana and Uganda in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation. The IYET provides a platform to advocate for improved and diversified economic opportunities for the young people involved in agriculture. Through interactions with various stakeholders, IYET seeks to address the challenges of youth in agriculture, enabling stakeholders to better understand and respond to the needs of the youth in agriculture in Uganda.
In his remarks, Mr. Kisirinya informed the participants that a large percentage of the youth live in the rural areas with agriculture as their primary resource of livelihood. Agriculture offers assures opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship therefore providing diversifies livelihoods for youth.
Mr. Kisirinya encouraged all present to participate actively in the meeting, share ideas, experiences and lessons learnt to meet the workshop objectives and expectations. In closing, Mr. Kisirinya urged participants to work and contribute towards making a positive difference in the lives of the youth by encouraging them to participate in agriculture.
1.5. Opening Remarks: Minister of State for Youth and Children Affairs Hon. Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi
Hon Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi opened her remarks by thanking the participants for taking a keen interest in youth livelihoods. She thanked IYET for organizing the workshop on youth in agriculture for development and applauded the PSFU for chairing the committee. “Youth in agriculture for development could not have come at a more opportune time given the glaring challenge of widespread unemployment among youth”, Hon Nakiwala noted.
Agriculture through its value chains has potential to translate into several employment opportunities. The majority of developed economies in the world advanced as a result of growth in the agriculture sector. She noted that the government of Uganda believes that if economic development through agricultural transformation was possible in developed countries, then Uganda also has the potential to achieve economic development through the same agricultural transformation. This can be realized given Uganda’s conducive environment for productive and sustainable agricultural growth.
Hon Nakiwala stated that the government of Uganda through its agencies has taken a number of steps to address the youth unemployment challenges through initiatives like the Youth Livelihood Program, Youth Venture Capital Fund, Uganda Women’s Entrepreneurship Program and Operation Wealth Creation among others. The programmes aim to improve the socioeconomic status of young people through creation of opportunities to ensure that they lead dignified lives. It is strongly believed that these programs will embrace agricultural initiatives and that government remains willing to offer support to their ventures.
Implementation of youth focused livelihood initiatives has not been without its fair share of challenges but Hon Nakiwala noted that government remains committed to ensure their success. This calls for comprehensive partnerships and collaboration among all stakeholders to work together and share good practices and lessons youth programming.
Hon Nakiwala encouraged the participants to use the national multi-stakeholder workshop as a platform to identify the drivers and evidence gaps for youth-led agricultural development. She asked the participants to explore the various options or pathways for effective youth participation in agriculture, and recommend means of effective coordination of stakeholders who support youth in agriculture in Uganda.
In her concluding remarks, Hon Nakiwala encouraged young people to work hard, remain focused and take advantage of the many opportunities in the agricultural sector. She urged youth not shun the agricultural sector because it contributes highly to the economic transformation in Uganda. She called upon the youth to take up the youth in agriculture challenge and become agents of mind-set change among your fellow young people. She also thanked IYET for organizing the development workshop and for the keen interest in youth economic empowerment.
This session explored the contextual issues around the workshop theme – youth in agriculture for development. Presented in form of key note addresses, this session covered the four main topics.
2.1. Employment situation, challenges and opportunities for young adolescents and out of school young persons in Agriculture
Presented by Mr. Francis Mwesigye – Research Fellow at Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC)
The presentation focused on the findings of a study by EPRC carried out with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Key highlights are as follows:
- Uganda has a very young population with about 77.6 percent of its population below the age of 30, of which 56.7 percent are children below 18 years. This is mainly attributed to the high fertility rate of about 6 children per woman in 2014 (UBOS, 2016).
- 79 percent of Uganda’s population lives in rural areas where poverty levels are highest with farming as the main source of livelihood (NPA, 2015).
- Youth are not only larger in number, but are also the least unemployed. Youth unemployment (11.1 percent) is higher than the national average unemployment rate (9.4%). In comparison, unemployment remains highest among female standing at 13.7 percent compared to their male counterparts (UNDP, 2015). Across the age cohorts, it remains highest among the age group 14 to 17 years, estimated at 14.5 percent in 2012/13 (NPA, 2015).
- The Government of Uganda has committed to address youth unemployment through a number of initiatives among which include:
- The 1995 Youth Entrepreneurs scheme (YES)
- The 2005 Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP)
- Youth Venture Capital Fund initiated in 2011
- Youth Livelihoods Programme,
- Northern Uganda Youth Entrepreneurship Project (NUYEP) among others.
Until recently, most programs targeted youth between 18 and 35 years, excluding young people of 14-17 years who are out of school and are of the legal age to work (14-64 years). Only the Youth Opportunities Program that included young youth (16-35 years) although it lacked an agricultural component. As it is still assumed that youth aged between 14 and 17 years are still in school, the programs continue to exclude over 19 percent of youth.
- According to perceptions obtained from focus group discussions of the study, Karamoja has the highest number of out of school young persons aged 14-17 years at 63%, and Northern Uganda at 50% comes second. The authors’ computation of the school to work transition survey estimate that at least 83 percent of the out of school rural young persons had never completed primary education. Lack of school fees is the main reason why many young people drop out of school.
- In terms of employment, 4 percent of youth were considered employed. Agriculture was their largest employer with at least 96 percent engaged in agricultural related activities. The out of school young people who were paid employees received meager wages in informal employment, the majority of whom were female.
- The main challenges faced by the out of school youth employed in in agriculture were:
- Defaulting on wage payment
- Working hungry
- Exploitation in the form of working long hours and subjection to physically straining work
- Lack of protective gear exposing youth to injuries and hazardous chemicals
- Lack of appropriate tools
- Long distance to land
- Sexual abuse and harassment
- Challenges that limit youth engagement in agriculture include limited access to land and limited access to credit/loans (85% are unable to borrow)
- The study conclusion and key emerging policy recommendations included the following:
- The Government of Uganda should support the out-of-school to acquire specialized skills by enrolling them in vocational training institutions.
- The out-of-school 14-17 year olds are sometimes subjected to physically strenuous activities and are made to work for long hours, sometimes without food. The Employment Act, 2006 prohibits harmful employment of children; including work that exposes a child to physical, psychological, sexual abuse, work underground, dangerous heights, & dangerous machines.
- Young people should be supported with access to land which is a crucial factor of agricultural production.
- There is need for Government to fast track implementation of strategic interventions for increasing agricultural productivity; as this would aid movement of excess labour force to upper nodes of agricultural value chains which pay more and are attractive to young people.
2.2 The Contextual Framework for the Youth in Agriculture in relation to National Development Strategies
Presented by Judith Mutabazi -Senior Planning Officer, National Planning Authority (NPA).
The presentation focused on the Government of Uganda planning frameworks, youth programs and projects, and existing opportunities.
- Uganda’s growth is driven the by services and manufacturing (7%), and agriculture (1.6%) sectors. There is renewed focus on the agricultural sector in Vision 2040 and NDPII which identify agriculture as the priority sector to steer socio-economic transformation.
- Agriculture has a great multiplier effects which spill into other sectors – employment, raw materials, income and market for non-agricultural goods. In addition, agriculture sector holds potential for gainful employment and income for youth who are unemployed, under-employed, or seeking employment outside agriculture.
National planning frameworks
- The Comprehensive National Development Planning Framework (CNDPF) approved in 2007 guides the planning process in Uganda, and calls for iterative, participatory and inclusive planning. The CNDPF outlines the principles and guidelines to be followed in developing national and decentralized long and medium term plans in Uganda.
- Vision 2040 calls for “a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”. It recognizes that Uganda has a large youthful population which is poorly educated and skilled. Accordingly, youthful labour force offers great potential to drive envisaged growth and transformation. Vision 20140 aspires to skill youth with globally competitive skills to attract foreign direct investment.
- National Development Plan (NDPII) 2015/16 – 2019/2020 whose theme is “strengthening the country’s competitiveness for sustainable wealth creation, employment and inclusive growth”, strives to propel Uganda towards middle income status by 2020. The NDPII seeks to improve the capacity of youth to harness their potential and increase self-employment through production, productivity and competitiveness.
- The Agriculture Sector Strategic Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20 guides investments in the agricultural sector to achieve NDPII – aspiring towards a competitive, profitable and sustainable sector targeting an annual growth rate of 6% for 5 years. Regarding youth, Agricultural Sector Strategic plan strives to:
- Change the attitudes among rural youth to practice agriculture as a business and adopt improved practices and innovation;
- Train youth in agro-enterprise development;
- Target skilling youth in fabrication, operation and maintenance of agricultural machinery and tools; and
- Support youth in agro-processing and value addition.
- Uganda National youth policy, 2016 (15-30 years)
- National Employment Policy (NEP) 2011 considers employment of the youth in decent work.
- Youth Livelihood Program
- Youth Venture Capital Fund
- Promotion of “Green” Jobs and Fair Labour market in Uganda (PROGREL)
- Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP)
- Skills for production, enterprise, development and wealth creation (SPEDA)
- Support to the implementation of skilling Uganda Strategy (BTVET).
Agricultural policies and laws
National Agricultural Policy Plant Varieties Act, Animal Breeding Act 2001, Agricultural Extension Policy 2016, Plant and Seed Act, 2006, National Fertilizer Policy 2016, Control of Agricultural Chemicals Act, 2006, NAADS Act 2001, NAR Act 2005.
Other youth-focused programs include Universal Primary Education, Universal Secondary Education, Students loans scheme, District quota system, Financing ICT innovations and Operation Wealth Creation.
Challenges in policy and program implementation
- Limited institutional coordination of implementing institutions;
- Low uptake of research;
- Limited partnership between the government, private sector and NGOS;
- Limited involvement of the different target groups (bottom-up approach);
- Lack of M&E reporting systems and data tracking – tracer surveys, National Labor Market information systems.
Opportunities in the policy and program environment
- Implementation of existing agricultural research;
- Strengthening agricultural institutions for effective coordination and service delivery;
- Capacity building programmes (skilling, business development – value addition, agro-processing, entrepreneurship);
- Access to agricultural finance with specific options for youth & women farmers;
- Existing support from private sector & development partners;
- Increased access to and sensitization on use of critical farm inputs.
Presented by Yafesi Ogwang Assistant Commissioner Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF).
The presentation focused on the role of Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) in youth in agriculture for development.
Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world with 78% of the population below the age of 30. About 23% of the population is between 18 and 30 years. 64% of the unemployed persons in Uganda are youth.
Acknowledging viable employment and income earning opportunities remains a critical challenge that youth face, there is potential for the agriculture sector through promotion of a culture of innovative entrepreneurship among Ugandan youth to increase employment. MAAIF aims at contributing towards changing the attitudes/mind-set among rural youth and communities to perceive agriculture as a viable business option. MAAIF developed a National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture, with support from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The priority intervention areas of the strategy are:
- Strengthen the enabling environment for youth employment,
- Improve youth education and learning,
- Support youth oriented agriculture extension,
- Promote and support youth agricultural entrepreneurs as an incentive for job creation and income generation;
- To enhance youth adaptation and resilience to climate related agribusiness risks and uncertainties.
Below are specific activities under each of the above priority intervention areas:
Objective 1: Strengthen the enabling environment for youth employment
- To Strengthen the policy and legal framework that address issues of Youth Development (ASSP, Youth Forum, Tax incentives);
- To enhance land access and control by the Youth (Land Fund, Sensitization on access and control);
- To Increase access to financing (Youth Fund, SACCOs, VSLAs);
- To increase access and use of ICT for youth agriculture;
- Support the youth to access agricultural machinery
Objective 2: Support towards Youth Oriented Agriculture Extension
- Review and adapt guidelines on integration of gender, youth and vulnerable groups into extension services;
- Promote youth involvement through capacity building and linkage to service providers. Identify and assess the unique youth technology and capacity needs.
Objective 3: Improve Youth education and learning
- Support Peer farming education system (Agric. Clubs);
- Support education institutions to organize Youth agricultural clubs and camps;
- Support National agricultural competitions for the youth to facilitate peer learning;
- Promote practical school farming systems, farmer field schools.
- To promote vocational training.
Objective 4: Support Youth enterprise and entrepreneurship
Promote and support youth agricultural entrepreneurs as an incentive for job creation and income generation
- Support the Profiling, showcasing and rewarding of successful youth entrepreneurs
Objective 5: Adaptation to and mitigation of agribusiness risks and uncertainties
To enhance youth’s adaptation and resilience to climate related agribusiness risks and uncertainties
- Support development and promote uptake of best practices, innovations and technologies relevant to addressing agribusiness risks and uncertainties, Smart Agriculture;
- To enhance occupational health and safety among the youth.
Key interventions of MAAIF:
- Capacity building for the youth including vocational training institutions, and incubation centers;
- Encourage usage of family land and sensitization of the family leaders and elders to allow youth access to land;
- Buying, hiring and putting public or redundant land to use;
- Linking Youth programmes to the financial institutions;
- Encouraging ICT in agriculture;
- Enhancing and strengthening the extension services.
2.4 The Impact of youth participation in the agricultural sector on the economic transformation/development of Uganda
Presented by Mr. Mwesigwa Bickie Isharaza, Deputy Chief of Party, Feed the Future.
The presentation responded to the question “what impact can youth in agriculture have on economic transformation?” and was informed by the case of the USAID funded program – Feed the Future Uganda Youth Leadership for Agriculture.
The program aims at increasing incomes, building entrepreneurship leadership, and workforce readiness skills of youth. Using peer-to-peer approaches to mobilize, educate and build credibility among youth, the program focuses on the following programmatic elements:
- Access to and use of financial services and information provided,
- Meet young people where they are,
- Apply age appropriate interventions,
- Demand-led and market responsive orientation,
- Prioritization of life skills,
- Engaging key gatekeepers.
Creating impactful youth initiatives
The following are some ways in which youth agricultural initiatives can be impactful:
- Leverage the links between initiatives
- Facilitate market linkages with the private sector
- Conduct regular market assessments
- Facilitate short technical training and demonstrations to serve rural learners
- Identify mid-chain opportunities
- Design built-in intergenerational benefits
- Create pathways to mixed livelihoods
- Creating economies of scale though youth groups
- Change youth mind-sets
To harness the impact of youth in agriculture for development, programs need to be designed in revers:
- Let demand set the agenda
- Empower partners to grow their networks
- Be private sector driven and with youth in the lead
The panel session was moderated by Ms. Sanyu Rebecca and was composed of 6 experts from government, development partners, academia and youth. The panel discussion topic was, “the drivers for Youth led agricultural transformation for economic development”. Each panelist discussed the topic from their perspective and their working with young people in agriculture in Uganda.
3.1 Mr. Mwesigwa Bickie Isharaza, Deputy Chief of Party feed the future Uganda Youth leadership in Agriculture
According to Mr. Mwesigwa, the key drivers for youth-led agricultural transformation for economic development are:
- Increasing youth access to microfinance institutions as well as building the capacity of village savings and loan associations to reach out to young people;
- Creation of an enabling environment for the private sector to succeed as the private sector has the potential to drive agricultural development;
- An enabling environment in form of policies that facilitate and promote learning from the innovations in youth and agriculture;
- Investment in research and development;
- ICT infrastructure to linking rural areas and youth to information and services;
- The availability of, and access to reliable data. There are no clear mechanisms or platforms that promote data sharing across stakeholders which calls for urgent attention.
3.2 Ms. Jane Lowicki-Zucca, Program Director – Driving Youth-led New Agribusiness and Microenterprise (DYNAMIC)
Youth in agriculture for development means that agricultural transformation should be driven by young people. Stakeholders in the agriculture sector should create an environment in which youth can participate to lead agriculture transformation.
“Youth-led agricultural transformation must be led by youth and all actors have a responsibility to enable that youth call”
DYNAMIC works with youth to increase their self-employment and resilience in the agricultural markets. The program works towards making markets work for the youth enabling their participation in both input and output markets. The market has potential to offer many employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people through incentives and an enabling environment that attracts youth. Emphasis should therefore be put on promoting the market support functions that would enable youth participation. Some of these include: education and skills development, access to finance, access to information, rules and norms, and policies among others.
The following are some drivers of youth-led agricultural development:
- Access to finance, and in particular digitalization of VSLAs to build traceable credit history and links to formal financial institutions,
- Access to information particularly market prices and agronomic practices,
- Key value skills (business and life skills);
- Promoting value chain approach to agriculture;
- Private sector involvement of youth in agriculture.
Sharing lessons from the study by Plan International that had conducted in 2013 to inform one of their program implementation, Patrick noted that youth-led transformation begins with youth at the center where they participate, in the design, implementation and monitoring of youth programs.
He emphasized the need for shared partnerships because they facilitate interaction between private sector, public sector and the young people. Civil society and private sector need to define and align their program/project values to young people’s needs.
Mr. Ssebowa encouraged stakeholders to support youth groups with business development decisions and skills to run agricultural enterprise as businesses as youth are already forming savings an investment groups.
Mr. Arinaitwe started by responding to one the question “what do youth want?” He noted that young people want to be leaders and to participate in matters that concern them. He also noted that youth-led transformation should begin with consultations with youth.
Mr. Arinaitwe noted that there are a number of progressive youth in agriculture programs. The biggest challenge faced however is lack of extension support, limited financial resources and insufficient evaluation of the impacts of the programs.
According to Mr. Etyang, one of the drivers of youth-led agricultural transformation is collective action of youth through the formation of youth groups and cooperatives. By forming groups, youth can take advantage of the benefits of collective action including collective bargaining power and economies of size.
YETA has adopted the “learn, engage and build” model while working with youth to promote youth-led to agricultural transformation. It is believed that through learning youth will acquire skills for establishing sustainable enterprises and behavior change. Youth engage at different levels with peers, mentors, extensive services and private sector actors to build agricultural enterprises.
According to Dorcus, educating young people in agriculture remains a challenge as most parents, mentors, teachers hope that when they take their children to school they will redeem them out of agriculture. Given the rate of Uganda’s population growth and owing to the fact that there are 3 major sectors with potential to employ young people – service, industry, and agriculture; investment in agricultural education is critical for economic growth. The biggest challenge is that needs to be addressed is the attitude of the population towards agriculture. Evidence from Makerere University admissions shows that agricultural courses are nearly a last resort for students, in case of failed admission in other courses.
The Government and NGOs are increasingly realizing the importance of investment in agricultural education of young people and are working together with universities to improve the content and delivery of agricultural education. There are still a number of stakeholder acting independently, duplicating other efforts. The challenge that remains is to ensure increased partnerships and collaboration for a joint approach to tackling the issues of skilling youth in agriculture.
In this session, participants were divided into stakeholder groups to discuss and come up with 3 priority stakeholder group interventions to promote/develop Uganda’s agricultural sector in order to contribute to increased sustainable job creation and economic empowerment for youth. The stakeholder groups included: government, private sector, academia, development partners, youth, and international and local non-government organizations. Below are the intervention areas:
Uganda’s policies need to provide a supportive environment for youth-led agribusinesses to thrive. Facilitated by Richard Wanzala of Restless Development, the objective of the session was to explore how policies can contribute to youth becoming drivers of agricultural transformation. The session begun with an overview of what a responsive policy environment means in relation to the development of youth-led enterprises.
The group noted some of the challenges to youth participation as follows:
- Lack of a platform to voice concerns of youth,
- Limited participation in the formulation of policies that affect youth; and
- Homogeneous policies that do not adequately address the challenges faced by the different categories of youth.
Some of the best practices in youth participation in Uganda include:
- The existence of youth policies aligned to national strategies;
- Regular stakeholder engagement in youth policy discussions; and
- The presence of a youth department in the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development which takes the lead youth affairs.
The group agreed on the following top 3 Recommendations for creating a responsive policy environment for youth-led enterprises:
- The policies should be made easily accessible and intentionally publicized to the youth. The policies should be packaged in simplified language
- Both formal and informal youth structures should be involved in policy design and implementation
- Effort must be made to create trust between the youth and government. Transparency must be encouraged at all levels.
5.2 Mind-set/behavior change among the youth in Uganda for sustainable youth-led agricultural transformation
Negative mindsets not only of youth, but also of stakeholders towards youth are a significant limitation to youth participation in agriculture. The objective of the session was to discuss best practices and develop recommendations mindset change for youth-led agricultural transformation for economic development. The session was facilitated by Marcelina Busomoke of the National Youth Council.
The session begun with understanding the meaning mind-set transformation, including the causes of the poor youth mind-set towards agriculture. Different approaches to mind-set change were discussed, including the fact that mindset change should not be limited to the agricultural sector and to youth alone, but to all relevant sectors and stakeholders whose multi-dimensional activities contribute to agricultural transformation for economic development.
Some of the current best practices in mindset transformation are as follows:
- Show casing and profiling some of the youth that have been successful in agriculture especially through fairs to share their success stories and that will motivate others;
- Inspirational talks organized by the various stakeholders at different fora;
- Building platforms that trigger mind-set change. Use of social media to access and acquire market information and to trigger mind-set change;
- Incorporating agriculture into primary and secondary school curricula;
- Providing incentives to inspire young people to engage in agriculture.
The group’s top 3 recommendations for Mindset/Behavior change among youth in Uganda for sustainable youth-led agricultural transformation were as follows:
- Government needs to sensitize and promote agricultural entrepreneurship among the youth by highlighting the opportunities in the sector. Agricultural programmes should be delivered to the youth through social media platforms. Similarly, the government should address the bottlenecks of entry into agriculture, some of which include: insufficient access to knowledge, information and education; limited access to land; inadequate access to financial services; limited access to markets and limited involvement in policy dialogue.
- Access to finance should be an important priority to facilitate youth agribusinesses and sustainable youth-led agricultural enterprises.
- Youth should continuously receive training in financial literacy and business skills as part of monitoring, evaluation and learning processes.
5.3 Strengthening youth involvement, and competitiveness in agricultural value chains, and market systems
The purpose of this session was to discuss how to strengthen youth involvement in agriculture value chains and market systems for youth economic empowerment and economic development, and was facilitated by Ms. Miji Park, Mercy Corps.
The key issues discussed regarding strengthening youth involvement and competitiveness include:
- Initiatives must be youth-led and youth should be involved at the various nodes of agricultural value chains;
- Encourage the formation of youth groups to capitalize on the benefits of collective action;
- It is important for private sector to be engaged and involved in agricultural value chains in youth programming;
- Use of demonstration farms, role models and agricultural trade fairs as platforms for learning and sharing of skills to promote agricultural production;
- Provision of market-oriented (market driven/relevant) skills development and training to make young people competitive in agriculture;
- Investment in mindset change is important to change the attitude of youth towards agriculture;
- Focus on supply and demand, for example subsidizing agricultural inputs. Caution must be taken to steer away from free inputs as these negatively distort markets;
- Youth focused/youth friendly services for example extension workers that specifically target young people, and youth-friendly financial products and services.
The recommendations for strengthening youth involvement and competitiveness in agricultural value chains and market systems were:
- Investment in Public Private Partnerships in areas like the common user production facilities in communities;
- Collaboration with stakeholders to lobby for policy change on selected and agreed priorities;
- Establishment of agribusiness incubation projects away from subsistence farming towards value added and commercial agriculture.
This session was facilitated by Ronald Rwakigumba, Mercy corps, and aimed at discussing the different options for youth financial inclusion According to World Bank statistics, FY 2015/16, only 22% of the Ugandan population had bank accounts, access to financial services and the ability to borrow. The recent introduction of mobile financial services has improved access to financial services and the number of Ugandans with bank accounts has shot up from 22% to 35%.
Key pillars for youth financial inclusion
In order to increase access to financial services and empower the users of financial services to make rational decisions in their personal finances so as to contribute to economic growth, the group identified the four pillars below:
- Pillar 1: Financial Literacy (FL) to ensure a more financially literate population empowered and equipped to make prudent choices on their personal finances.
- Pillar 2: Financial Consumer Protection (FCP) to promote fair and equitable financial services, increasing transparency, fostering confidence, enhancing disclosures on bank products, providing mechanisms for handling complaints and ensuring privacy of consumer information.
- Pillar 3: Financial Innovations (FI) aimed at establishing an effective regulatory framework for financial sector innovations in order to broaden financial inclusion while ensuring system stability and safety.
- Pillar 4: Financial Services Data and Measurement (DM), whose goal is to monitor and measure financial inclusion indicators of access, usage, quality and welfare or impact of financial services on the lives of consumers (Consumer Protection).
The group also looked at the challenges faced by financial service providers in interpreting and implementing know-your-customer requirements developed by the Bank of Uganda. The group noted the lack of clarity regarding appropriate Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for informal, semi-formal and formal mobile money merchants, schools, churches, mosques and other non-profit entities that wish to accept mobile money payments etc. To address the challenges, the group recommended the following measures:
- Developing an electronic payments gateway to facilitate digital KYC. This will enable financial service providers to access identity information for KYC purposes;
- New financing mechanisms and simplified technology;
- The group also sought the need to identify relevant key financial inclusion indicators to determine the success or failure of the National financial inclusion strategy.
Key recommendations from the group included:
- Value chain financing that improves quality and efficiency in financing agricultural chains by identifying the financing needed to strengthen the chain; tailoring financial products to suit the needs of the participants in the chain; reducing financial transaction costs through the direct discounting of loan; payments at the time of product sale; and using value chain linkages and knowledge of the chain to mitigate risks to the chain and its partner.
- The Village Saving and Loan Associations (VSLAs) should be linked to the banks to have more access to financial services. A few banks with these products like Barclays Bank, Post Bank, Bank of Arica have these products but more banks need to be encouraged to take up this system.
- Strengthen savings and credit cooperative societies (SACCOs). Participants were informed that government is working hard with the Uganda Cooperative Alliance to ensure that the SACCOs are strengthened.
- Use of technology to aid saving e.g. mobile banking system
- Financial literacy is urgently needed so that the youth in agriculture can easily take advantage of the government subsidies, benefits etc. The financial literacy will also lead to behavior change.
- Multi-sectoral approaches so that interventions in health and HIV are integrated into youth agricultural interventions.
6. Closing Remarks Mr. Johnson Kagugube- Executive Director Development, Research and Training (DRT)
Johnsons thanked the participants for having honored the invitation. He appreciated the Minister for having honored the invitation too, recognized the steering committee members of IYET who had organized the workshop. He informed the participants that the aim of the platform is to bring together NGOs, development partners, government, private sector, youth and academia to advocate for improved diversified opportunities for young people so that they actively participate in agriculture. The highlight of the workshop for him was youth involvement in all stages of agricultural development. He urged the youth to act fast upon the knowledge received. He emphasized that the workshop was the first of its kind and that discussions are on-going about making it an annual event.
At the end, participants were requested to assess the workshop. Below are some of the highlights:
- All the participants were very active, passionate about the workshop theme, eagerly sharing their experiences, best practices, doubts and concerns;
- One participant in particular appreciated the excellent youth turn up and engagement in the workshop and was opportunistic that the future will be brighter for them;
- The presenters were outstanding and the topics covered were apt and the way the workshop had been handled by IYET was great, very engaging;
- The breakout sessions to brainstorm on specific topics were greatly appreciated;
- More time for discussion was recommended for future workshops