The government has rolled out the second round of the Youth Inspiring Youth in Agriculture Initiative (YIYA), a nation-wide competition aimed at promoting youth employment in the agricultural sector by fostering role models of youth agripreneurs.
The program, which is implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
It was launched in 2017 as part of the National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture (NSYEA), which was created to increase decent jobs for youth in the agri-food system.
The purpose of the Strategy is to guide all state and non-state actors in Uganda to engage and create decent employment for youth in Agriculture.
In line with the implementation of NSYEA, a National Technical Coordination Platform was established to support the implementation of the NSYEA.
Within the frame of the NSYEA implementation, in 2017, through the National Technical Coordination Platform, FAO in collaboration with the MAAIF and the Young Farmers Champions Network (YOFCHAN), launched YIYA.
The Minister of State for Fisheries Hellen Adoa in a Thursday news briefing revealed that the success of the Round One of the YIYA initiative had activated the launch of the second edition.
In the first round, 25 best youth agripreneurs were selected and awarded as Round One Youth Champions (YC). The award package included cash support and opportunities to attend technical training, exhibitions of agricultural products, and policy dialogues related to youth employment in agriculture.
In the second round, the National Technical Coordination Platform has invited youth aged 18-35 years to take part in the 2020 competitions.
This time, 270 youths (2 per district) will be selected, announced, and awarded as agriprenuers at district and regional levels.
The 270 youth agriprenuers will be subjected to further screening to select 135 district youth champions nationwide ensuring a gender balance of 68 female and 67 male youth. From 135 district youth champions, 35 national youth champions will then be selected.
All the 270-district young agriprenuers will be documented, recognized as national young agriprenuers and provided opportunities to engage in peer-to-peer support activities with other youth, according to the ministry.
The final 35 national and 135 district champions will get an award package that will include: opportunity to attend a week technical training at the NFLC training center, as well as opportunity to participate in national exhibitions of agricultural products, and policy dialogues related to youth employment in agriculture.
In addition to the training at the NFLC training center, the 35 national champions will also benefit from other national and international trainings and policy dialogues.
Uganda’s population as of 2017 was 37.7 million of which 75.2 % were below 30 years, according to the 2016/17 Uganda National Household Survey.
The large youthful population creates both an opportunity because of the potential demographic dividend from abundant labour force and future demand but it also comes with unemployment challenge if the youth bulge is not well planned through appropriate investments that can generate decent jobs.
Most of the unemployment challenges in Uganda is caused by a mismatch between skills required for labor markets. In addition, the limitation in accessing investment capital makes it difficult for the youth to tap into the available opportunities.
The public sector jobs available are very few and can absorb all the graduates who enter the jobs market annually. It is estimated that over 600,000 graduates enter the job market every year.
The Youth champions will be acting as role models and agribusiness change agents to inspire a generation of youth agripreneurs to produce food, reduce hunger and create employment for other youth.
In 2017, 25 Youth Champions were selected and publicly recognized for their achievements and awarded as national youth champions.
“This model has proved to be successful, and now we would like to scale up the youth champions to become a national wide mentorship program,” Minister Adoa said.