The Role of Youth in Scaling Agricultural Technologies and Innovations

The Youth Symposium is a national platform for young farmers from diverse backgrounds ranging from for youth actively engaged in agribusiness or youth who potentially want to join the agricultural sector; the symposium amplifies voices of youth towards farmer-led agro-industrialization development. This year, UNYFA held the 2nd edition of the National Youth in Agribusiness Symposium themed The Role of Youth in Scaling Agricultural Technologies and Innovations’; a theme which was derived from the overall 27th Annual Agriculture trade show theme which was ‘Agricultural Technologies and innovations for farmer-led agro Industrialization.

Mr. Jurua Jackson, the vice president of UNFFE, who represented the UNFFE president at the symposium said that the symposium is right on the spot to turn the energy of the youth into productive force; he said that youth have the energy, the brains, they can think of new ideas and have new insights. True to form, these innovative youth were at the symposium and they showcased their agriculture technologies and innovations. Fundi Bots, a tech start up that mentors young people in robotics was in attendance and they wowed the audience with their automated irrigation system which was developed by interns who are doing their training with Fundi Bots. Mawa Enterprises showcased their worm farming technology as an alternative protein source and NARO presented the various improved seed species that they have developed.

With an attendance of over 1500 people, the symposium lived up to its expectation of offering a platform for youth to network and share information and creating insights on how to motivate, inspire and encourage school going youth on better livelihoods emanating from agribusiness. Schools in attendance were Jinja College School, Wanyange Girls School and Kira College Butiki. In the schools debate, Wanyange Girls School and Kira College Butiki, showed their vast knowledge of agriculture through the arguments they brought forth. Debating on the motion; can the Youth play a role in scaling agriculture technology and innovation? The main point of argument was that the youth have access to technology but based on how much majority of youth have misused the technology at their exposure; are youth able to play a role in scaling agriculture technology and innovation.

The diversity of participants required an inclusive program for all to be fully engaged so that their ideas are brought to table. At the symposium, besides the debate, the agribusiness quiz was another session that was inclusive of all categories of people, inclusive even those without a background in agribusiness. The quiz engaged students, youth in agribusiness, agribusiness technocrats and the ‘dreamers’ (youth not yet engaged in agribusiness).

Having the right people listening at any platform is very important. At the symposium, UNYFA was honoured by the presence of Dr. Kamukama Charles, Senior veterinary doctor and Senior Economist and Planner who represented Mr. Pius Wakabi the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) at the symposium and expressed his gratitude for the willingness of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries for their readiness and willingness to discuss the issue of agricultural financing.

Also present at the symposium was Bank of Uganda and commercial banks who are major stakeholders in the financial sector. The deputy director Agricultural financing from Bank of Uganda talked about the Agriculture Credit Facility which she said is a facility by the central bank to support farmers. This scheme started its operation in October 2010, with the aim of providing medium and long-term financing to projects engaged in agriculture and agro-processing, focusing on commercialization and value addition. Fatuma Namutosi who was panellist said that young people, you need to start doing something and not just wait for opportunities. She was recognised by FAO as a Youth champion in Agriculture because she was running an agribusiness that adds value to pumpkin and she is currently working with over 1000 youth and women. Her message to the youth was “Be prepared”