KAMPALA – Makerere University’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) together with partners under the ACCELERATE initiative have held discussions to boost youth, education and innovation in the development of sustainable Agribusiness.
ACCELERATE is a multi-stakeholder partnership for innovation, co-creation and enabling youth to build sustainable agribusiness informed by evidence-based research and with a global presence.
The dialogue aimed at initiating Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) for blended learning, which should identify the causes, consequences and expected responses for improving the capacity and competitiveness of the youth in Agri-food value chains and solving the challenges of unemployment in Uganda with a global perspective.
Dr John James Okiror the acting principal CAES, said the university prides in such collaborative efforts in solving modern challenges including finding solutions to issues affecting the youth.
Dr Fred Kabi the program coordinator at the University said innovation and entrepreneurship can be one of the solutions to the hard questions of how the university gets involved in solving the current challenge of unemployment in Uganda.
Kabi explained that the major question put to Government under this initiative is whether it can deliberately establish regional incubation centres to engage the youth so that they are able to produce products for the local and international markets.
“All innovations produced at the university need to be harnessed hence the need for government actors to help in lobbying,” Dr Kabi said adding that the organizers went around the country visiting farmers and markets with innovations and organizations involved in value addition technologies like roasting coffee and packaging.
“Because of the international markets”, Kabi said the platform sought partnership from the global North to help form trade links.
“We are trying to expose students and also invite inspirational speakers and this is crucial. Students do not have to dig, they can see what others are doing; package it in an enticing manner to reach internal and external markets.”
He further disclosed that the CAES had come up with a mobility exchange program with Erasmus Mundus where Makerere students on both undergraduate and masters programmes will benefit.
Officials and students also visited Makerere University Food Technology and Business Incubation Centre (FTBIC), the University Farm at Kabanyolo and the Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (CURAD) centre.
Other sites visited included organic farmers at Prunes Kololo and Gudies Leisure Farm in Najjera.
The dialogue was driven under the theme, “entrepreneurship and innovation for the future of Ugandans with emphasis on marketing.”
Kitgum Municipality Woman MP Beatrice Anywar said that the potential of the youth who form the biggest percentage of country’s population has not been fully tapped into.
T he workshop was attended by members from Makerere University, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, the Uganda Agribusiness Alliance, the Agripreneurship Alliance (Switzerland), Gulu University and RUFORUM.
O thers include Rural Community in Development (RUCID), The Open Impact Institute, representatives from the private sector, development agencies, and youth agripreneurship programs among others.