Youth urged to embrace urban farming

Although agriculture employs a large portion of the labour force, the productivity levels remain low due to the continued use of rudimentary practices, and a high engagement in agriculture for subsistence purposes.

Uganda is renowned for good equatorial climate and fertile soils, factors which make a case for supporting and sustaining the agricultural sector in the country to be quite realistic.

However, Uganda’s agriculture seems to be under performing in comparison to many of the countries that are not as naturally gifted.

The agriculture sector contributes 24.03 percent to GDP and employs 71.9 percent of the labour force, 77 percent of whom are women, 63 percent are youth, with the majority in the rural areas.

According to experts, youth unemployment rate in Uganda continues to soar, with universities rolling out as many as 400,000 graduates annually.

Given the current economic growth, these numbers are too many to be absorbed unless other options, especially urban farming, are wholly embraced.

During an agricultural exhibition in Kira, Wakiso, the executive director of Agrofresh Uganda, Laban Musinguzi said for the young people to embrace urban farming, the government must understand what is entailed in it is capital which can be one way of interesting the young people to join farming.

 “The youth require skills if they (government) can create avenues and partner with us who are in agribusiness, and we do capacity building and training for the youth. I think this can be easy to get results over time and also interest youth in urban farming,” said Musinguzi.

Mugisha stressed that their biggest challenge is post product losses due to poor packaging and storing products in stores that are not temperature regulated.

“We need freezer tracks so that we reduce the wastage. We have over 30% of post-harvest loss so at the end of the day where someone has invested shs100,000, they are losing Shs30,000 so we must reduce the post-harvest loss,” he said.

The exhibition was organised with the intention of bringing together sector players dealing in agricultural inputs, fresh produce and agricultural machinery to showcase their products and encourage young people to join the sector.

Experts said that urban farming can be a potential source of job creation for the growing number of young people in Uganda.

With such a large proportion of unemployed youth, experts said improvement to both urban farming and labour can go hand-in-hand in transforming the economy and creating jobs in multiple sectors through back and forward linkages.

Improvement in the sector can come in the form of modern agricultural practices with better inputs such as irrigation, improved crop varieties, assurance of market for produce and land protection to the farmers.

Experts further believe that the growth of the agricultural sector has the potential to absorb unemployed youth directly through engagement in urban farming and indirectly through providing services in agro-based industries.

The manager of Millennial Farmers, Raymond Mugisha explained that they partnered with Agrofresh in organizing the exhibition so that all farmers who could bring their products would be helped to sell and even market on a large scale.

He however stated that some farmers still use substandard seeds and this has greatly interfered with the production of high quality products.

Mugisha said in order for the young people to embrace urban farming, there is need to make the youths access credit because the youths are being challenged with capital and most of them don’t own the land.

“So, we find that we need to make it so easy for the youths to access capital, then we can influence them to invest in urban farming,” he said.

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