“As Agromax, we designed a six months hands- on training program targeting youth between 18-35 years..."
Agriculture must be trained to the youth as a vocation if food security is to be enhanced across the country. “If Uganda is to cement food security, youth must be given a reason to engage in agriculture,” Hans Peter van der Woude, the Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
He was launching a dormitory that will house youth being trained in agriculture at Agromax recently. He pointed out that if young people are trained into embracing agriculture as a business, then the future of agriculture will be bright.
The dormitory was constructed in conjunction with the Kingdom of the Netherlands, AVSI and the SKY programme. According to Samuele Otim Rizzo, Chief of Party, SKY, the programme identifies gaps in agribusiness entities and then builds their capacity to deliver marketable skills to the youth.
Hands on course
“As Agromax, we designed a six months hands- on training program targeting youth between 18-35 years. Under our Earn as you Learn Youth Apprenticeship Program that is funded by AVSI through their Skilling Youth for Employment in agribusiness(SKY) initiative, participants receive intensive practical training pertaining to commercialization of agriculture and creation of their own sustainable income generating enterprises,” said Rony Joseph Oved, Director Agromax. He added, “This is our strategy to curb the rampant unemployment that plagues the youth in our country,”
The training is done under a well-structured schedule. “We developed a comprehensive training curriculum reviewed and approved by qualified agronomists and specialists in the different fields. We effectively utilize the expertise of both in-house and external facilitators with a balance between the art of crop production and humanities. This holistic program imparts skills relevant to successfully managing any enterprise and creating qualified farm managers and agripreneurs,” he says
Rony explained that the main focus under this program is the investment clubs, farm management and entrepreneurship. According to Rony, the trainees receive a good balance of practical and theoretical principles. It combines both sciences and humanities to develop them cognitively. Three months in, the participants in this programme have a good understanding of different production methods such as Greenhouse management, nursery operations, forestry (clonal eucalyptus), tissue culture and the like. They are able to identify common pests and diseases, determine costs of production, carry out market research, and conduct a cost benefit analysis of different enterprises. Regular fertigation has given them an appreciation of adequate nutrients required for plant growth.
“We focus on the production of high value crops such as zucchini, English cucumber, cherry tomatoes sweet pepper that fetch a high price on the market,” he said.
With value addition and proper storage one is able to extend the shelf life of a product.
“Participants under this programme also earn from their production work through our collection hub that is a wholesale market platform for produce. This income is tied to the investment clubs that we are mentoring them into forming. It will be utilized as startup capital for their agribusinesses,” said.
According to Vanessa Tandekwire, the project manager there is currently 24 youth undergoing training.
“We currently have 24 youth whose intake started on the 06th June 2016 to Dec 06th 2016 and we are expecting another 24 in the next intake,” she said.
The selection criterion is not necessarily based on agricultural experience or academic qualification but on the passion to learn and develop oneself through agribusiness.