National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises (Nucafe) is opening up opportunities for university students through the Union’s internship placements.
The move is aimed at skilling youth in agribusiness and give them the knowhow required by private and public sector employers.
Executive director Joseph Nkandu explains that Nucafe takes on interns from different academic disciplines and universities to equip them with a set of skills targeted by players operating from different nodes of the agricultural value chain.
This is to help beneficiaries broaden their employability and innovativeness through this hands-on initiative.
“We target to impact the agriculture sector through generating a new breed of human capital comprising young and educated people for the future of our economy.”
Nkandu made the remarks during an induction, coaching and mentorship training for more than 50 interns from different universities across the country.
They will be allocated different roles within the countrywide management fabric of Nucafe; at the secretariat, processing facilities and member associations and hubs.
Beneficiaries are students in fields such as food science and technology, agro-processing, engineering, human resource management, statistics, business and economics.
Nucafe has more than 200 farmer associations, cooperatives and estates in five main coffee growing regions. There are more than 200,000 farming families with a million individual farmers. This gives the leverage to create an essential network with academic institutions in provision of hands-on training opportunities.
The strategy is spearheaded in partnership with AVSI Foundation, which works to enhance sustainable creation of employment for the youth through the Skilling Youth for Employment in Agri-business (SKY) project.
Nkandu says developing Uganda as a country dependent on agriculture requires a young generation that is attracted to and embraces farming. This is through creating a shared value where participants especially farmers are winners and the best beneficiaries in terms of revenue.
He notes, “Entrenching scientific means into agriculture for improved production and productivity requires the academia to be part of the process.”
Deus Nuwagaba, Nucafe’s entrepreneurship manager, points out that the growth of agribusiness presents enormous opportunities. The population constitute demand that must be served thus the need to tap into such prospects.
By 2010, agribusiness in African was worth $313b and projected to hit $1trillion by 2030, an opportunity that must be pursued.
Charles Ocici, a senior business development expert at Enterprise Uganda, argues that getting the youth into agribusiness is a key tool to boost employment and make a significant contribution to national development.
The study, Lost Opportunity? conducted by Action Aid International Uganda, Uganda National NGO Forum, and Development Research and Training (DRT) indicates that 62 per cent of Uganda’s youth are jobless. It shows that 12 per cent of youth aged between 12-30 are chronically poor with higher poverty rates among 12-17 years old as compared to the 18-30 years old, the irony is that the most energetic and would be productive age group is not adequately contributing to economic activities.