By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA- YALTA (Youth in Agroecology & Business Learning Track Africa), with financial support from IKEA Foundation, is implementing a three-year 2020-2022 initiative aimed at supporting 6,000 young agripreneurs to apply agroecological principles and to co-create networks around them, in view of contributing to the increased sustainability of food systems and youth employment.
However, according to Mugisha Richard the Country Project Manager YALTA, the success of this initiative is highly dependent on working closely together with a variety of stakeholders such as; CSOs, research institutions, Government institutions, academia, farmers, policy makers, financial institutions, youth groups, private sector (agripreneurs) and local and international media.
During the year 2020, the initiative commissioned a survey to identify best practices, main challenges, existing financial mechanisms, relevant stakeholders and existing programmes and initiatives on the nexus of agroecology, youth and business. One of the study findings indicates that; Agriculture remains the main source of livelihood in Uganda, presenting an avenue for promoting inclusive and equitable growth for Ugandans.
Therefore; exposing the youth to successful agricultural businesses founded on agroecological principles is an integrated solution to contribute to the sustainability of food systems, youth employment and socio-economic transformation of Uganda’s economy (Yalta survey 2020).
2021 Youth Caravan
YALTA initiative hosted and implemented by the Participatory Ecological Land Management (PELUM) Uganda in collaboration with; Knowledge Center for Organic Agriculture in Eastern Africa (KCOA), Advocacy Coalition for Sustainable Agriculture (ACSA), Central Archdiocesan Province Caritas Association (CAPCA), Community Integrated Development Initiative (CIDI), Uganda National Young Farmers Association (UNFCVP) are organising a National Youth in Agroecology Caravan 2021. Whereas the caravan follows the overall objective of gaining practical knowledge, skills, and approaches through peer-to-peer exchanges and learning from youth-led agribusiness enterprises. It will also include strategic field exposure visits and climaxing with a Youth in Agroecology Symposium.
Mugisha Richard said the caravan will introduce youth to the principles of agroecology, practical skills as well as agroecological business development.
“It will also support knowledge transfer through sharing and learning from real-life experiences of successful and scalable agroecological business models,” said Mugisha.
He explained that the caravan will also provide a platform for interactive policy dialogue on issues that affect youth in agroecology in order to achieve an improved policy environment.
The caravan will bring together 40 youth (from the 4 greater regions of Uganda), male and female aged between 18-35.
The initiative will support rural and urban, start-ups and progressive entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector especially those involved in production, value addition, agro-input supply and agro-processing.
Mugisha explained that the caravan targets young innovators, marketers, youth leaders who are already passionate and motivated about their businesses and are ready to be change-makers in developing sustainable and scalable agroecological business models.
“The caravan is 5 days learning journey for 40 participants aboard. However, because of the insecurity and safety issues around the COVID-19 crisis, we will make sure that social distancing and other SOPs are carefully adhered to. To this effect, therefore, the Caravan will be structured in the following ways” he said.
Mugisha explained that the engagements will include live streaming on Facebook and other platforms. “This media engagement is aimed at building momentum of the Caravan. The Social Media Ambassadors and influencers 4AE: This team will throughout the Caravan keep updating the public and featuring the activities at source,” he said.
Strategic Field visits and exposure
These will be visits to pre-selected field farms/firms where Agroecology is vividly practised. The field visits are aimed at imparting practical skills and knowledge on AE, and business and at the same time gathering issues that will inform the Youth in Agroecology Advocacy agenda.
National Youth in Agroecology Symposium: The Caravan will climax into a National Youth in Agroecology Symposium in Kampala at Hotel Africana. This will bring together stakeholders in Agroecology, academia/learning institutions, Government ministries, agencies and departments, media, the private sector and the youth among others.
This is aimed at reflecting and drawing specific policy recommendations to government and relevant stakeholders on strengthening youth in agroecology and their contributions to the sustainability of food systems in Uganda.
More about YALTA
The YALTA initiative targets youth in Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda, while it follows a market-based approach and convenes a wide range of stakeholders, from seed distributors to academia and from farmers to policy makers. All sharing a wide range of knowledge and experiences to push for collective advancement, from identifying the major issues to co-creation of solutions.
Agroecology is a way of reshaping food systems, from the farm to the table, with a goal of achieving ecological, economic, and social sustainability. Indeed, a transition is needed towards more sustainable food systems that produce more, with more socio-economic benefits and with less environmental consequences.
We see agroecology as a promising way to support this anticipated transition since it combines climate-resilience with a business perspective; getting more out of the soil and other natural resources through sustainable, context-specific practices.
“We also see youth as crucial players in this field since there will be no sustainable, future-proof food systems without youth as a major driver, yet the involvement of youth in agroecology is still limited. Therefore; to effectively realize a transition towards sustainable food systems with solid business opportunities for youth, there is a need for connecting young people with successful agroecology practitioners and introduction/exposure to viable and bankable business models.