TO FARM OR NOT TO FARM : 

what opportunities exist for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business? #Blog4Dev

Agriculture is the single largest income source for rural dwellers. Unfortunately, it cannot meet its potential if productivity isn’t increased and value chain opportunities aren’t explored and improved.

Uganda as a youthful country and agriculture based economy has by far a higher rate of youth unemployment. Working is a necessity for the young people to relieve the pressure on the economy; in the current structure such situations create a high dependence burden. 

Currently efforts in subsequent steps are being put in place in agriculture as a business rather than a development platform in Africa. Quick fixes are being prioritized rather than paying more attention to the rural development which is by far sensitive to the migration of youth to urban areas. 

Each agricultural system represents a different combination of markets, environment, land, labor, capital and other inputs. A holistic approach that provides technical, business, entrepreneurial, financial and life skills that will change the agriculture perspective in Uganda from subsistence farming to economic prosperity and entrepreneurship should be promoted.

Data collection is one of the key and sensitive areas that should be emphasized as we talk of sustainable agriculture development. Different regions have different practices and disciplines in agricultural chains. Digging deep enough for unique insights, fighting the mind set of accepting risks without knowing much. This should be the first step in rallying youth into the field by being at the forefront of ensuring references in-case of any challenges, especially focusing on the rural out of school youth first. 

Climate change presents real challenges and opportunities concurrently. Solutions being fronted and how to improve them cannot be done by the elderly but the new and innovative dare spirited youth. The irrigation outlook at large is a whole different complex environment which presents a range of prospects if well-structured and packaged according to the target markets cultures and capabilities.

Soil science is a critical aspect that should be focused on in each and every region. Amid the continued population growth, land is becoming scarce by day and this implies agriculture won’t be practiced only on a large scale as years pass. Organic agriculture will be an option thus low resource requirement, no high budget to start, hence doing a lot with small land pieces hence high production. 

Community group systems should be initiated if relatively high prices for commodities are to be realized. The future belongs to the organized, currently middle men enjoy a high profit margin compared to farmers. These groups create solutions, from building their bargaining capacity, contract market agreements with buyers, working favorable loans to jobs in the whole chain; financial experts, marketers, to market stalls and distribution. 

The other sensitive resource is financial services; credit management, savings, and the whole value chain for agribusiness. This field requires experts putting into place favorable researched solutions. With the acquired education, have you been able to improve your parents’ agriculture practice/business in any way? This should be a challenge question to every learned youth with an agricultural background. 

Current innovations improve production by only 3-5%, this is not enough to influence change in practices. Youth innovators should be groomed though they must appreciate each of the factors which represent constraints for agriculturalists. Improvements must apply to variables that drive the business model. 

Agriculture has enormous potential for not only reducing joblessness rapidly but eradicating poverty through creating enough value to share across the full chain.

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