18th February, 2021
Gender, Social and Economic justice could practically be achieved if communities are empowered, resilient and actively involved in income generating activities to bridge the economy gap but also create economic independence especially for the most vulnerable communities to all forms of violence rooted from Gender Based Violence- the power imbalance.
The Youth Coalition for SDGs marked yet another milestone in strengthening her ties and bench marking opportunities to transform the country’s modern economy when they took on a trip to one of the 5 Presidential Demonstration Farms located in Kawumu, Luwero District. The Youth were accompanied by Mentors, UN in Uganda representatives led by the UN Resident Coordinator H.E Rosa Malango, Ms. Elsie Attafuah, United Nations Development Plan (UNDP) Representative in Uganda, Dr. Antonio Querido, The Food and Agriculture Organization (F.A.O) Rep in Uganda, Mr. Deus Tirwakinda UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) Start Facility Manager, Mr. Victor Ochen, The UN Global Ambassador for Peace ED AYINET, and Civil Society representatives; Mr. Apollo Ssegawa E.D CURAD (Consortium For Enhancing Universities Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development), Mr. Samuel Otim Rizzo, Chief of Party Avsi and Mr. Martin Akampurira, Director for Youth JB International.
The Presidential Demonstration farm and State Lodge in Kawumu, was established in November 2016 with the main aim to support Agricultural research, develop new practical ideas to escalate modern Agriculture as a response to Youth unemployment and lack of innovative ideas that brought value to farming. A team of 35 Youth and UN in Uganda representatives embarked on a quest for the community investment approach to shift the mindset of Young People involved in subsistence farming as it had been noted that almost 90% were still living in the non-money economy.
Focusing on promoting the 4 acre model, an intervention where land could be proportionally utilized to grow more than one species of food crops and support integration of food varieties, a team of 4 supervisors headed by Mr. Geoffrey Gandugga the Farm manager categorically guided the visiting team on approximately a 2 hour rotation along the demo-farm as they show cased the different models of farming that included fish farming, vegetable and fruits growing, green house nursery bedding, poultry (Battery Cage and Deep liter system), Cattle rearing, Matooke growing, Mushroom growing and Rabbitry.
It was noted that Agricultural Modernization was only to be attained by meaningfully involving Youth as evidenced by their abilities and existence of an evolution centered on digitalization.
During farm tour, our first and significant stop was on the Fish enterprise seated on 1 acre that included a water source that had been developed since the time when drip irrigation was the only option during the 2016 drought. This enterprise was made up of 4 ponds with a 4 ft. depth in which each of the two comprised cat and tilapia fish, approximately 2500 pieces of fish in each. The farm manager extended the continued grievances in this venture which included predators like eagles, snakes and otters which highly encouraged developing measures like water fertilization to prevent fish from detection, growth of snake repellants around the pond and use of boiled eggs to trap the snakes that seemed the most common predators on the farm. Key notes included that stalking happened every after 4 Months, all the tilapia fish species was sexually reversed to manage overcrowding as it laid over a million eggs in a period of 3 months and there was weekly exchange of water in the ponds to maintain oxidation.
The evolution in Poultry farming
Gone were the days when the best and most practical type of poultry rearing was the free-range system. A cost effective and absolutely labor free type where the mother hen was left to roam all over the community searching for food and yet the biggest fear remained, “in case she never returned?” This system also limited the number of birds being reared as it was done at absolutely no land cost. Well there has been a huge shift on how such issues could be managed.
The Deep litter system.
This specific system of poultry rearing was created to address the challenges the free range system faced. On a well-insulated two square ft. construction, one could rear 500 chicken birds under the supervision of one attendant. Coffee husks is the best litter to be used to avoid risks like food poisoning. The husks can also act as manure for the green house improvement. Day old chicks can survive in this kind of environment as well.
Battery Cage System
The most modern type of poultry rearing holds the capacity of more than 4000 chicken birds. Small cages of two to three hens are built closely with a systemic way of feeding and water provision. The birds are only let into the cages only after a successful vaccination from the New castle disease in 2 and a half months. Learning how to mix the feeds is very vital in managing risks of over feeding and poor nutrition for the birds. It also cuts the costs in purchasing the processed feeds as it was deemed costly, a report from Mr. Gandugga; the farm manager.
One of the key challenges noted faced with vegetable growing was the price fluctuations due to lack of direct connections to the main market centers, noted Mr. Gandugga, the Farm Manager. Wilt was one of the biggest disease barriers in tomato growing especially in Commando F.1 Species much as it continued to prove its resistance to the harsh weather conditions. The issue of fake drugs was being invested by the law enforcers to ensure that each farmer got exactly what they needed.
This trip was concluded by a round table talk that brought together Youth, 2020 winners from the One Million Youth SDGs Solutions and representatives from key UN Agencies led by the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office H.E Rosa Malango, Ms. Elsie, UNDP Resident representative, Food and Agriculture Organization and the Agricultural technical support system in Uganda led by Dr. Antonio Querido. During this round table talk, H.E Rosa Malango commenced by thanking her fellow U.N representatives and the Youth Coalition for SDGs for their continued extra-ordinary efforts to promote the attainment the 17 Sustainable Development Goals a global agenda that had been adapted by 193 Countries all over the continent. She credits the President of Uganda for extending this kind of exposure to the Youth as it came timely with the country’s economic shift. She insisted that Community Investment still remained a priority in attaining Peaceful and Sustainable Communities in Uganda.
Ms. Elsie Attafuah, the UNDP Resident representative portrayed her team’s commitment to bridge the widening unemployment gap in Uganda through continued exposure of Youth to new innovations under the Youth 4 Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship facility in cooperation with Stanbic Bank. Skilling Young People remained a vital tool in building their capacity and also scaling up the Youth Mentorship Program to contribute to the realization of the National Development Plan III. “It was also very vital to identify partnership dimensions and points of interventions to help Youth get practical through utilizing the African free trade in the continental area which has increased by 9%.” She noted. Youth’s involvement in Agriculture in Uganda is between 60%-70% and her on behalf of her team pledged to continue supporting Agricultural innovations through the UNDP Innovation Challenge Fund up to $40,000 USD.
Food and Agriculture Organization representative Dr. Antonio Querido, during his submission at the roundtable discussion emphasized the need for Youth to continue doing the right thing, “It was very vital to promote Agriculture as well preserve the Natural system, this supported scaling up more opportunities along the value chain.” He noted. He encouraged Youth to join commercial Agriculture because approaching Agriculture as a business promoted Youth SDGs Champions. Food and Agricultural Organization provided technical support in showing Youth opportunities of making money through supporting business plan preparations and providing linkage to internal corporations and the international market. He stated as he concluded his submission.
Agriculture & Health
Youth representatives, winners of the 2019 and 2020 One Million Youth SDGs Challenge winners during the round table discussion conveyed their satisfaction, the fact that the food crops demonstrated on this farm were purely organic. Though issues of lack of enough land were continuously raised, they extended their interest in borrowing such ideas to expand their agribusiness ventures in their respective communities to scale up Nutrition Programs. It was also noted that there had been minimum agricultural mechanization which still left labor opportunities such as “emizizi” and “Patana” for the local young people in all the five strategic locations of these demonstration farms around the country i.e Arua, Otuke, Mayuge and Gomba Districts. These demonstration farms also eased referral points and access to agricultural interventions. Agriculture was looked at the next key to industrial revolution in Uganda where scaling up industrial parks in the 18 zones was government’s priority to extend incentives to Youth as they identified their role and position in the country’s economy.
Compiled by Tukahirwa Maurine and Noah Omuya- Youth Coalition For SDGs Members