Increasing youth engagement in agriculture in Northern Uganda

Project

KIT conducted a qualitative study to better understand youth engagement in agriculture for the DFID-funded NU-TEC Market Development Programme. More specifically, the study focused on youth dynamics and opportunities in sunflower and soya markets. It also highlighted business models and strategies to foster private sector linkages and youth engagement in land preparation, seed production, storage and aggregation.

Summary

The NU-TEC Market Development Programme aims to integrate youth into agricultural value chains by brokering the relationship between the private sector and youth producer groups and cooperatives. KIT’s research suggested strategies and business models in areas where youth have incentives to actively participate and where there is a business case for firms to pursue practices that are more inclusive for youth. The research was based on literature reviews and focus group discussions with vulnerable youth living in the Lango, Acholi and West Nile sub-regions. It also included semi-structured interviews with members of the private sector, cooperatives, government and development partners.

Results

The study focused on sunflower and soybean markets. It looked in particular at the interconnected markets of seed, land preparation, storage and aggregation as entry points for youth in agriculture. The study proposed the following youth engagement strategies and business models:

  1. Youth-led mechanisation for land opening and on farm operations. This can build around a service-led intervention model to enable youth to invest in mechanisation services as a business.
  2. Youth engaged in local seed business and distribution agency. Youth can be engaged in specialised agricultural production ventures like seed production and as agents for delivery and distribution systems.
  3. Production through demand-driven approaches to harness youth energy. Youth can be supported to engage in contract farming, building on forward contract arrangements, with oilseed buyers & processors.
  4. Participation in storage and aggregation markets. Youth can function as buying or delivery agents in trading systems. For instance, the company engages youth as buying agents and facilitates them by pre-financing and mentoring. To improve the link between production and aggregation, youth producer groups can be supported with the provision of small bulking houses. This allows youth groups to act as primary aggregation centres.

Success factors

Group approach: Interventions to facilitate private sector engagement with youth should not target youth in isolation but as part of a group.

Working with existing and established cooperatives and associations: Youth that could benefit from robust inclusion are those fully integrated in current farming structures in the communities which are: producer groups, cooperatives and savings associations. Operating within the context of the existing institutional and social structures provides youth with credibility and is more likely to attract the private sector.

Role models: A strong point in the business models that KIT designed is that they hinge upon using role models to offer peer learning support and apprenticeship learning for youth to engage in farming as a business and adopt good agricultural practices.