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Youth in Agriculture for Development

Summary

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
  • 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
  • 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.

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.

The Objectives of the workshop were as follows;

  • 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
  • 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

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