NARO has designed a youth empowerment action plan starting from the primary level of education to the university level to make sure they have a love and passion for agriculture. NARO designed the annual youth writing competition in agriculture and sets agriculture questions for primary schools, secondary schools, and university institutions.
The Director General NARO, Dr. Yona Baguma made these remarks during a presentation at the ASARECA Agricultural Ministers Conference that was held from May 17–19, 2023, at the Speke Resort Hotel in Munyonyo.
“The goal here is to build a love for agriculture and for youth to engage in agriculture with passion, and in life, whenever you do something, you do not have passion for, you will never succeed.” The other thing NARO has done is in the area of skilling the youth; a number of programs have been designed for selected enterprises like horticulture, rabbits, and piggery enterprises. All these are to provide enabling and meaningful practices in agriculture for young people to make them successful agricultural entrepreneurs.
Dr. Yona emphasized the need to understand and appreciate what is deterring young people from agriculture: the tragedy of the perceived small profit margins from agricultural enterprises and the huge risk that surrounds the type of agriculture we are practicing in the country. We are dependent on nature, and whenever youth are trying to engage in agriculture, they are at risk of suffering a loss. The challenge is how we ensure the youth perceive agriculture as a valuable business enterprise.
NARO has set up an incubation hub in Mukono ZARDI, where we are incubating ideas from the youth and also incubating products with the youth with the goal of creating industries. There, we have a guiding principle: one idea, one industry, one technology, one industry. We have these youth as incubators, and our aim is to have an incubator move out as an industry contact point. The meeting was also informed that, out of these, some youths have set up industries in peanuts, avocado seeds, cassava, and sweet potato flowers. NARO is also investing in agro-mechanization, reducing drudgery. Because of the technologies developed by NARO, like the maize, groundnut, and rice thresher, the time taken to thresh a ton of maize and rice is a lot shorter, and this has attracted more youth to agriculture.