Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Sekandi has urged for a change of attitude among young people towards their involvement in agriculture in Uganda.
He noted that the sector must start to be perceived as one that can offer decent employment even for university graduates.
The Vice President made this appeal Thursday morning while meeting a group of youth under the Youth Leaders think tank, stuff http://daa.asn.au/wp-content/plugins/woocommerce/i18n/locale-info.php an initiative of Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The group met the Vice President along with other technocrats in the Ministry of Agriculture to present policy recommendations on government policies in the sector that could enhance youth participation as well as highlighting the constraints.
Eshban Kwesiga who is part of the think tank pointed out the dismal engagement of youth in commercial farming which he said is worrying given that young people have the biggest demographic.
Worth noting is that most Ugandan farmers are small holder farmers and 70% of arable land in Uganda remains un-utilized.
Key among the proposals is taxation of the vast unutilized land to trigger agricultural production, unifying the parallel agencies dealing in agriculture and introducing subsidies in agriculture inputs.
They also want promotion of farmer cooperatives, establishment of more model farms and empowerment of women.
“While some adjustments need to be made, changing the perceptions of the youth towards farming is what is important. Most of the people who complete university don’t think about agriculture as an employment option,” commented the Vice President.
He suggested that more advisory seminars on agriculture need to be held not only at sub county level but in institutions of learning such as universities.
As part of government interventions to boost production, Vincent Rubarema the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries said; “We have focused on priority commodities like cocoa, coffee, tea and fruits like pineapples, citrus and mangoes. This project will support 1.5 million households that grow these crops in the next three years.”
While the common narrative has been that youth in Uganda have less interest in agriculture, statistics by the Youth Livelihood Program by the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development are divergent.
They indicate that of all the youth who benefited from the Ugshs 58 Billion in funding to groups, 43.4% of the participants invested in agricultural projects and 3.7% in agro-processing.