By Innocent Anguyo
THE government of Israel has offered a total of 31 scholarships to students from Makerere and Busitema Universities to undertake one year Agriculture apprenticeship in the Jewish state.
Of the beneficiaries, 28 were selected from Makerere University while the rest were picked from Busitema University. Female students were barred from the program over alleged misconduct by their colleagues during an earlier arrangement.
The students were yesterday flagged-off to Israel at Makerere University by Education minister Jessica Alupo. They are scheduled to depart on Wednesday next week.
The students will be attached to various farms across Israel in a bid to ensure that they acquire new knowledge and practical experiences from the best farmers in Israel.
On top of being given a comprehensive medical insurance for the entire duration of the internship, each student will also be given a laptop.
The paid apprenticeship combines both theoretical and practical agro studies. The students will receive a salary for the work they will do on the farms and the farms will cater for their accommodation and upkeep in the Middle East country.
According to Issa Mugabo, the brand manager of Makerere, the students selected competitively through rigorous interviews were sourced from the courses of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture and Bachelor of Science in Horticulture.
The students were meant to foot their travel bill to Israel; however, Alupo has contributed $5,550 towards purchase of air tickets for some of the students who could not afford them.
Makerere Chancellor Prof Mondo Kagonyera said the apprenticeship offered the students the enviable opportunity to access modern agricultural technologies and practices that are hard to come by in Uganda.
The program, according to Dr Denis Mpairwe of school of Agriculture, will be comprised of practical work of five days on the farms, and lectures and meetings at a specific centre every Saturday with experts.
At the end of the program, the students will be assessed and awarded Diploma in Agro studies by the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture.
In a speech read by Alupo, President Yoweri Museveni said the apprenticeship program was a fundamental step towards agricultural modernization and value addition for Uganda.
Museveni urged the students to be disciplined, work hard and learn as much as possible about practical and gainful skills from Israel’s modernized agriculture.
“I encourage you to save from what you earn. Take advantage of this unique opportunity to start your own agribusiness when you come back. Also, come back with a business plan,” said Museveni.
The president promised to match the savings of students from the Youth Venture Fund in a ratio of 1:2.
“If you attain at least 75% mark and save equivalent of $1000, we shall match it by $2,000 or equivalent so that you start your agribusiness. This way, I want you to become the seeds of my agricultural revolution towards socio economic transformation of Uganda,” reiterated Museveni.
Alupo handed a national flag to the team leader Husseini Asega and urged the students to promote a positive image of Uganda in Israel.