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Decent Rural Employment

Uganda and FAO launch a new Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture

27/10/2017

On 26 October, the Government of Uganda, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, launched the National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture.

Demographically, Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with 60% of people below the age of 18 and 78% below 30 years old. Yet, additional efforts are needed to fully harness this huge potential demographic dividend.

Youth account for 60% of the unemployed, while three quarters of working youth are in vulnerable employment, cannot negotiate their own wages and, generally, do not hold bank accounts. Even though the national economy relies heavily on agriculture, which employs about 65% of the working population, the engagement of youth in the sector is declining. The young women and men who choose to engage in agriculturer face a wide range of problems, including inability to own or access land, lack of affordable financing for agribusiness start-ups, as well as lack of technical know-how.

Against this background, it is clear that eliminating the barriers for young people to engage in agriculture and in the rural economy is an urgent priority. To address unemployment and underemployment and revitalize the agricultural sector, the Government of Uganda launched the National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture (NSYEA). The Strategy has been developed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) with the support of FAO and a multistakeholder technical working group, through the FAO Integrated Country Approach for promoting decent rural employment (ICA programme). The 5-year strategy has a total budget of Shs52.9 billion, that will be invested to re-engage youth in agriculture and create more and better jobs along agricultural value chains, from production to agro-processing and marketing of agricultural inputs and products.

In particular the Strategy aims at strengthening the legal and institutional framework for youth employment in agriculture, ensuring provision of youth-sensitive agricultural extension services and creating national information centers that will serve as innovation hubs. To support youth agro-entrepreneurship, the strategy also emphasises the need to to set up a Youth-in-agriculture fund to enable rural youth to access affordable financing, trainings, land and equipment required for start-ups. The Government will also work with various national actors to include youth between 15 and 17 years of age who, due to regulative limitations, have been precluded in most programmes in agricultural sector development.

During the launch of the Strategy, Mr. Alhaji Jallow, FAO Representative in Uganda, stated: "The future of Uganda will depend on how development interventions prioritize youth in major sectors of the economy, such as agriculture". Mr. Jallow also stressed that "Although agriculture is not the only means of creating youth employment, being a key sector in Uganda, it has a high potential of providing an alternative means of creating youth employment".

One of the objectives of the Strategy is also to ensure that Uganda's enterprising and innovative youth access proper incentives that help them unleash their potential. As part of these efforts, during the launch ceremony, FAO and MAAIF rewarded 25 youth who have developed cutting-edge innovations in agricultural value chains. The selected "Youth Champions" will act as role models in their communities to inspire other young people through their agriculture and agribusiness enterprises.

The Champions were identified after a nationwide contest in the framework of the FAO-MAAIF Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture Initiative. The context attracted over 500 applicants and the selected candidates received cash prizes that will be used to acquire equipment and essential materials to support their agro-enterprises.

"We are hopeful that these youth will become champions in their respective communities and will help scale up good innovations and business ideas to their peers" Mr. Jallow said.

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