By Guest Writer
OPINION: In the previous weeks, Thomas Tayebwa, the deputy speaker of parliament, was in the media calling upon the Ugandan government and other stakeholders to engage young people in productive work.
This is because the country has one of the youngest populations in the world, with over 70 percent of the population below the age of 35. In my opinion, it is a good idea that needs to be taken into consideration.
According to a 2021 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), youth unemployment is currently three times higher than that of adults in all regions of the world.
No wonder most youths are always engaged in unproductive activities such as betting, drug abuse, and theft that are not developmental for the country.
Agriculture should be considered one of the productive activities that youths should get interested in because it is a green economic activity that is friendly to the environment.
Besides, it is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, employing about 70% of Uganda’s working population, according to estimates by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), and contributing about 27% of the GDP.
However, the sector does not favor the youths because there are challenges such as the inability to own or access land, inadequate access to financial services for agribusiness start-ups, limited access to markets, limited involvement in policy making, and a lack of technical know-how to be effectively employed in the sector that prevent them from participating.
The factors that have caused the majority of youths to migrate from rural areas to urban areas in search of jobs have forced some to leave Uganda, the pearl of Africa, for other countries in search of jobs to earn a living. Unfortunately, when the Ugandan youths get to other countries, some get maltreated both physically and sexually, and others end up losing their lives.
In fact, these movements will continue as long as the government does not come up with a plan to address the escalating unemployment rates among youth.
The UN World Health Organization predicts that by 2030, 6 out of every 10 people will live in a city, and by 2050, the proportion will increase to 7 out of 10 people, suggesting that more youths than ever before will be moving to cities and towns to seek jobs, leaving few behind to work in rural areas (FarmAfrica, 2013).
I therefore plead with the government to make the agriculture sector attractive by providing the youth with land and friendly financial services since these have been the major challenges hindering them from participating in the agriculture sector.
Availing them with land and friendly financial services will enable them to engage in different agricultural projects such as piggery and poultry, as agriculture does not necessarily mean digging.
The government needs to advance the agriculture sector by making use of IT infrastructure since most of the youth are social media enthusiasts who would want to use IT in their daily activities. IT infrastructures aid in remote sensing, improved productivity, weather forecasting, and climate-smart farming.
Lastly, the government should come up with both physical and digital training programs to make the sector noticeable and attractive to youths since most of them do not know how to be effectively employed in the agriculture sector.
It will be through these training programs that the youth will be able to share their views on how the agriculture sector can be improved.
The author is Hildah Nsimiire, a researcher at the African Institute for Energy Governance.
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