By Bwambale Joash, Skylight Youth Development Organization. IUPAC 2019 Next Generation Agri-Summit Participant
Agriculture, especially crop farming, remains the backbone of most African economies. 77% of Africa’s population are youth and are believed to be the future of food security, yet only a few of these youth see a future for themselves in agriculture or rural areas (where farming is practiced).
They are busy looking for jobs in urban centers rather than following their parents into farming, creating a looming workforce gap.
Besides, the youth willing to practice agriculture encounter several hurdles in trying to earn a livelihood; though still relatively cheap, pressure on arable land is exponentially increasing in many parts of Africa due to sharp increasing population, making it difficult to start a farm.
Youth also often lack access to credit, and many other productive resources necessary for farming. Even though such hurdles can be overcome, isn’t urban life much better? Perhaps, but not if you cannot make a living there. In developing countries particularly in Africa, rural youth find themselves in such a situation.
Whereas most of the global food is produced by ageing smallholder farmers in developing countries, aged farmers are less likely to adopt the new technologies needed to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, and ultimately feed the growing world population while protecting the environment. Hence, we need to re-engage youth in agriculture. Can this be done?
To address this, CropLife international invited 50 youth from all over the world to attend a one-week IUPAC next generation agricultural summit alongside the IUPAC conference at Ghent, Belgium. I was fortunate enough to be among the 50 youths who participated in this Summit. During this week, I participated in a number of events and training including personal and team leadership, networking, project planning, innovative project fund raising, project pitching and field excursions to crop protection research centers.
As a founder of a youth organization in Uganda called Skylight Youth Development Organization (SYDO,) where we devote most of our efforts on youth attitude change and provide a “learning by doing” training to unemployed and school drop-out youths on applied commercial farming. The summit was a learning and a very motivating experience to continue inspiring many more youth into agriculture. I believe the skills learnt and the knowledge acquired will be of great importance in realizing the organizations vision. Our vision is that the youth will be at the forefront championing agriculture in Uganda by 2025.
SYDO involves and inspires as many youth as resources allow. Since most of the work is done on a voluntary basis with no funding, on average we train 68 youths per year. We are a team of six young professionals from various backgrounds volunteering to run the organization. Our work is driven by the passion for agricultural development which we believe can only be attained through changing the youth’s attitude towards farming.
You can be part of this change by starting the same in your community or by supporting the already established SYDO. We believe “we are the future and the future is today”. Join us to create an impact not only in Uganda but in the whole world. We can feed the 9 billion people.
For more information or to support, contact:
Bwambale Joash, Skylight Youth Development Organization, firstname.lastname@example.org, +256778212050
Bwambale Joash is a student at the Pan African University institute of water and Energy sciences – Algeria pursuing a master’s degree in water Engineering conducting research in Precision Irrigation modeling for crops. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Mechanisation and Irrigation Engineering from Busitema University Uganda and a post graduate diploma in Applied Agriculture from Rupin International Agricultural Centre, Israel.