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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Zim’s Agric Youth Desk shines in Uganda

Story by Justin Mahlahla

The Zimbabwe Agricultural Youth Desk will receive an award for Oustanding Contribution to the Agricultural Sector and for implementing various blue prints such as the Malabo Declaration, that calls for youth participation in and through agriculture.

Representatives of the Desk led by Chief Programmes Coordinator in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Mr Nickros Kajengo, are in Uganda for an exchange programme and will also attend the awards ceremony to be held on the 15th of July 2023.

“We are witnessing the good works being done by young people in the agriculture sector. It’s quite pleasing to note that Zimbabwe’s economy, like any other country in sub Saharan Africa, is anchored by agriculture and obviously, we are very grateful to our iconic leader, the President, Comrade E. D. Mnangagwa for supprting the cause.

“As you may recall, some time ago the President and his team was in Senegal for the Food Summit and obviously here in Uganda we want to exchange what we are doing as a country and also copying and pasting what is done in Uganda so that we implement exactly the NDS1 that speaks to making Zimbabwe an upper middle-income society by 2030, through improved agricultural systems,” Kajengo said.

He added, “So we feel the youth are the backbone of the economy, they are the vanguard of the revolution, they are the only ones who are going to ensure as a nation we get out of the illegal sanctions, and this can be done only through hard work. So Uganda’s economy is agro-based and young people earn their income and livelihoods from agriculture.”

Kajengo also noted that the people of Uganda appreciate the land reform programme that occured in Zimbabwe in 2000.

“Definitely it was a success as it drove people out of poverty. It is agriculture that will drive young people out of drug and substance abuse and of course unemployment and brain drain, among other challenges. And of course this is happening when the country is facing some challenges like climate change. We feel some innovations happening in Uganda will also help to improve some of the strategic measures that have been put in place by the government of Zimbabwe, for example the provincial youth integrated hubs. In Uganda they have a similar measure that has been implemented to ensure youths partake in agriculture,” he said.

The chief executive officer of the Agriculture Youth Desk in Uganda, Mr Arinaitwe Richard Rwabwitwa, congratulated the Zimbabwean government for supporting youth-led agricultural initiatives.

“I am hosting a delegation from Zimbabwe the Agriculture Youth Desk from the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe. I must congratulate the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe for the support they are giving the youths in agriculture. The youths have managed to come to Uganda to look at the projects being done in Uganda and we share notes. And the agriculture youth exchange programme is a way to create opportunities and pave a way on how we can fight unemployment, food insecurity and poverty and make Africa a food self-reliant continent by 2030,” he said.

He added, “We are tired of depending in Western countries. As Africans youths, we are energetic, we are strong enough, we have land, we have water, we have everything that is needed for production and we can get markets everywhere in Africa and beyond. So, I do encourage youths not only in Uganda and Zimbabwe, but the whole of Africa, that we come together and work as a team, we fight for our sovereignty, our rights, we fight oppression then we strengthen our economy. I am so irked over the sanctions that are being imposed on our countries. Zimbabwe has been under sanctions; Uganda is now on sanctions, sanctions that are not based on any genuine reason. It is so so hurting and it is due to lack of self dependency. If we are self dependent, we can rely on ourselves, we don’t bother much.”

Mr Rwabitwa also said, “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our iconic President General Yoweri Museveni for the support he has given the youths in the whole country and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my happiness and express my appreciation to our Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa for the support he has given to the development and the empowerment of the youths in agriculture.”

Also part of the Zimbabwe delegation is Deputy Director in the Ministry of Agriculture, Mr Franscis Borgia Vengai, who spoke on the need to strengthen partnerships and exchange programmes between youths in the two countries, with a bias towards value-addition.

“We are in Uganda at the invitation of the youth desk in Uganda, where we are trying to exchange programmes that will assist our youth desk in Zimbabwe in issues to do with collaboration and learning from each other. We are going to also visit prominent young farmers who are into agriculture and also institutions that are into agriculture doing value addition, which is an area we are looking towards developing at our agric colkeges and youth hubs where we are going to look at value addition and employment creation amongst our youths.

“We are quite proud that we have been able to meet some prominent young commercial farmers who are into the business of value addition. We are also increasing collaboration between prominent and versatile youths in Uganda and Zimbabwe.

He noted, “Uganda is a friendly country that is currently in sync with what our President Dr E.D. Mnangagwa is preaching that we leave no one and no place behind. We are learning from them and we are also seeing the fruits of international collaboration, doing business with friendly people. We have seen a lot things that our local youths can take advantage of, in terms of food processing, value addition and employment creation.”

One United Africa president Nicholus Mudzungwa said, “We are currently in Uganda as One United Africa, which is an affiliate of the African Union, in supporting youths in agriculture so that the youth take agriculture as a business and not just an activity that happens each and every year. We are currently with the delegation from the Ministry of Agriculture in Zimbabwe so that we support their initiative under NDS1 so that we make sure that there is food security in our country and in Africa at large.

“There have been problems facing the youths in our country, for example, the President has been at the forefront talking about stopping drug abuse and as you know that as the youths, or One Africa, we can support the President’s efforts in a manner that if the youths are involved, if the youths are educated, we can be able to eradicate those problems.

“In this instance, we have come to Uganda so that we can share information on how the youths are doing it in Uganda, how they are succeeding in Uganda, the varieties that they have, bearing in mind that Uganda lies on the Tropical belt, so they have some varieties which we do not have at home, and which we take opportunity to import as well in Zimbabwe.”

The exchange programme is being coordinated by Uganda Agricultural Youth Desk under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries in Uganda.

Uganda has a National Strategy for Youth Employment in Agriculture and exchange visits of this nature can enable peer-to-peer interaction, as one means of promoting participatory processes that empower young people to improve their own lives.

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