Agency For Transformation

$20m agriculture program to benefit Northern Uganda youth

The MasterCard Foundation has launched a programme aimed at reducing poverty levels among youth in northern Uganda, through promotion of the agribusiness value chain to create jobs.

The programme which is to be implemented under the MasterCard Youth Forward initiative and the Driving Youth-led New Agribusiness and Microenterprise (DYNAMIC), will initially focus on 1000 youth in eight districts of northern Uganda.

“Both male and female youth in Northern Uganda are enthusiastic about undertaking agriculture as a business, both on and off farms, as  they see the income and growth potential, and most are already involved in some way,” said Jane Lowicki-Zucca, the DYNAMIC programme director.

This was on the side lines of the programme launch at the Kampala Golf course hotel.

She said more than $20m (sh67.5b) has been set aside to help the youth in northern Uganda to fight poverty through strengthening agricultural market systems and engaging both the public and private sectors.

She said a recent survey revealed that youth are highly interested in engaging in agriculture as their principal means of earning a living, but face many barriers to increase productivity and earnings.

She explained that the programme’s primary objective is to support youth in the North to move from subsistence to productive and profitable farming, through facilitating agri- business links between the private and public sector actors.

Agriculture is recognised by the government as a source of growth, employment and poverty eradication both in the National Development Plan II and the Vision 2040.

She said youth in northern Uganda are already playing strong roles in agricultural markets and are highly interested in engaging in agriculture as their principal means of earning a living, but face many barriers to increased productivity and better earnings.

According to Emmanuel Otim, the project’s deputy programs director, the biggest limitations to the youth’s agribusinesses include the lack adequate skills, good quality inputs, capital, market connections, information and parental support.

He said the program will also include partnerships with formal and non-formal financial institutions to develop and promote products for youth, supporting savings, investment and growth in family-run agribusinesses and youth-driven microenterprises.

“We are not going to provide handouts or provide direct services, but instead, we shall be   working in partnership with the private sector, government, youth, parents and other stakeholders to identify and leverage opportunities for youth engagement along agricultural value chains in sustainable ways that are both good for business and good for youth development, “he said.

Source: Sunday Vision