Edward Kisekka has confessed that prior to trainings that enlightened him about the possibilities of earning a living in agriculture, he haboured bias, considering agriculture dirty and conservative, writes EDGAR R. BATTE
Edward Kisekka is a go-to person for farmers who require spraying services for their gardens.
He owns a rechargeable pumping machine courtesy of Agali Awamu Agribusiness Association (Zaabta), a cooperative entity that offers extension services to farmers.
For each acre of land he sprays with pesticide, a farmer will pay him Shs20,000.
He can spray two acres of land a day which earns him Shs40,000. If he got farmers calling on him to spray their crops every day, he could earn Shs1.2m.
Prior to acquiring the motorised pump, the manual pump required four people to cover an acre of land.
They would be paid Shs500 per loaded pump of pesticide, which was meagre.
The training he acquired from Zaabta, and equipment thereon, has opened Kisekka to the opportunity of contributing to agriculture as an extension service provider.
“Youth do not necessarily have to own land in order to engage in agriculture. They can provide planting, spraying and pruning services which makes them active in the agriculture value chain,” says Godfrey Mayambala, chairperson of Zaabta.
Youths in agriculture
According to Pascal Imarachi, the Local Council chairperson of Ziroobwe Sub-county in Luweero District, efforts of young people involved is commendable given the high unemployment rate.
Kisekka confesses that prior to trainings that enlightened him about the possibilities of earning a living in agriculture, he haboured bias, considering agriculture dirty and conservative.
“I considered agriculture a source of side income and a job for those who had failed to make it in other careers. Today, I am an ambassador, using the knowledge I have acquired to encourage fellow young people to join the sector rather than maraud,” the 24-year-old further explains.
“The future millionaires and billionaires of Africa are not going to come from oil and gas, they are going to come from agriculture as a business. We want young people to understand that agriculture is a business. It is not just a way of life,” explains Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), and former minister of agriculture in Nigeria.
A World Bank report titled, ‘Developing Uganda’s Agri-Food System for Inclusive Economic Growth’, observes that the challenges notwithstanding, Ugandan agriculture has enormous potential to transform the economy and make farming much more productive and profitable for Ugandan smallholder farmers.
Agriculture is a strong pillar to Uganda’s economy. Locally grown food crops contribute significantly to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Contextually, according to figures by Food Agricultural Organisation (FAO), food crops accounted for 72.4 per cent of agricultural GDP in 1985 and 65.3 per cent in 2000.
“Many of my fellow youth looked at us as non-progressive. They were eager to receive hand-outs and as such kept waiting for projects that would enable them work less and earn. I have been able to achieve a lot over time,” Kisekka, who is also a tomato farmer, and a Senior Six dropout, adds.
“We are showing them that success can be achieved through engaging in agriculture. Some of them are learned; they are graduates. If you want to develop Uganda, and Africa, we should involve the youth because they are energetic. Every year, universities are producing graduates and agriculture should be top on their choices,” Imarachi adds.
At a continental level, the African Development Bank spent $300m to support young people in agriculture, capping on the fact that the future of food in the world will depend on what Africa does with agriculture.
“Africa holds 65 per cent of the uncultivated arable land left to feed nine billion people by 2050. Its’ vast savannahs are the world’s largest agriculture frontier, estimated at 400 million hectares. But only 10 per cent of this is cultivated. That’s a mere 40 million hectares. There is absolutely no reason for Africa to be food insecure. Africa must become a breadbasket for the world. Unlocking this enormous potential of Africa’s agriculture must be at the top of global food security agenda,” Dr Adesina says.
“It is this vision that drives our new engagement on agriculture at the African Development Bank. The Bank will be investing $24b, over 10 years, in agriculture, to implement its Feed Africa Strategy,” Dr Adesina explains.
Two of the key challenges young people face is access to machinery and farming implements in addition to effects of climate change, access to farming land and seasonal drought.