The President however said the model may not work for small holder farmers
President Yoweri Museveni on Sunday launched a new agriculture model that will increase productivity and alleviate the prevailing high unemployment across the country.
The new agriculture project also known as the Songhai model, was introduced to Uganda from Benin in West Africa. Uganda's top officials in the Ministry of Gender accompanied by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) officials supported Prof. Godfrey Nzamujo to introduce the Songhai model at the National Rehabilitation Centre, Kampiringisa.
"I launch the Songhai model as an alternative science to the chemical science," said Museveni, adding that this alternative would rely more on nature as opposed to chemical fertilisers and pesticides. "If we use it properly it will help us."
However, Museveni said the model may not work for small holder farmers. "We should not forget about the economics of production. Even if you apply the Songhai model on one acre of land, it will not help to produce enough food and income," said Museveni.
He encouraged large scale farmers to take it up. "It helps to improve yields especially for the large-scale farmers," Museveni said.
Museveni said the farmers had fragmented their land and that farmers have land which is as little as three acres.
"The youth in northern and eastern Uganda should go for rearing of fish on the edges of swamps," he said.
He was speaking during the National Youth held at the National Rehabilitation centre, Kampiringisa in Mpigi. The celebrations under the theme; "Safe spaces for youth," attracted youth from all over Uganda.
The meeting was attended by Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister, Nakiwala Kiyingi, state minister for the youth, Godfrey Kiwanda and Amelia Kyambadde. MPs including Beatrice Anywar attended.
Museveni also inspected exhibitions including making of bread, making of shoes and handicrafts. In addition, the youth making flour and starch from cassava also exhibited. In the parade mounted by the Uganda Police Forces and Uganda Prison Services also attracted youth working in different sectors including jua-kali, the national building association, Maganjo millers who have invested in value addition. Museveni also planted Prunus Africana, which is used to treat prostate cancer. He was supported by Tom Okello and the staff of the National Forestry Authority (NFA) to plant the tree.
Museveni emphasized skilling the youth and capital as the way out of youth unemployment. He said provision of equipment for the youth would also reduce on importation of different products such as shoes, syrups and mobile phones. This will save Uganda's foreign exchange.
He said the country was losing by selling maize grain to neighbouring countries and importing maize flour as well as animal feeds. "How do we have the surplus of maize and then import animal feed?" wondered Museveni.
He said workers in the public service want a pay raise and that it will not be granted. He said the money that would have been given to public service together with the money saved from foreign travels would be used to but equipment for the youth.
Rosa Malango, UN resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative, said that Uganda with a population of 39 million people and nearly 78% of that below the age of 30 years, there is need for creation of more programmes and platforms to provide young people with safe spaces.
To enhance the young graduates' employability and bridge the transition to work, the UNDP in Uganda and the UN volunteer programme in collaboration with government have developed a programme-Uganda graduate volunteer scheme.
"The project aims to contribute efforts of addressing persistent employment challenges faced by Uganda's young graduates."
According to Nzamujo who heads the Songhai model team, the model relies on microorganisms as well as irrigation to improve productivity of the soil.
He said this would not increase the productivity of the soil but also increase incomes and fight poverty among the population.
The current generation of the youth is the largest globally. In Africa, 200 million people are aged between 15 and 24, making it a continent with the youngest population in the world today, according to the advocacy strategy of the National Youth Advocacy Platform in Uganda.
Over 75% of Uganda's youth are engaged in vulnerable work, often characterized by inadequate earnings, low productivity and difficulty conditions of work.
Lillian Aber, the National Chairperson, the National youth Council led a team of youth from her organization to award Museveni a medal for empowering the youth. Aber's team also awarded Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Prime Minister of Uganda, Pius Bigirimana, and the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of gender
She said that the youth have benefitted from the livelihood youth project, the women fund, National agricultural advisory Services and Operation Wealth Creation.
But like Oliver Twist, Aber demanded for more from Government. She said they need employment in Government including the cabinet and a bigger budget to reach the youth.
She also said Government should change the education curriculum where students are given skills that would help them as they look for employment. Aber also appealed to Government to expand the Songhai model into all districts of Uganda to help the youth to fight poverty.