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Young Farmers Champions and Ambassadors Network

Successful young farmers work together as ambassadors and role models to inspire and attract fellow youth into agriculture as a business

Photo of Tumwebaze Khamutima

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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional Beneficiary Feedback in this field

We tested our user experience map on some of our beneficiaries in Kapchorwa district and what came out outstanding was appreciation of our recruitment strategy that involves local leaders, mentorship idea and how it has helped them to improve farming practices, input support and market linkages that has reduced on the cost of production and burden of market search but noticed the need to increase capacity building trainings mainly on mindset so that more youth can be inspired and get on board.

Explain your project idea in two sentences.

We empower, finance and facilitate markets for youth to succeed in agriculture and work together as ambassadors and role models to inspire and attract fellow youth into agriculture as a business.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Our organization is "Young Farmers Champions Network" a non-profit youth led farmer organization.

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

This idea is in line with our organization's mission to lobby, advocate and empower youth with entrepreneurship skills along the agricultural value chain. We have a proven concept and are currently improving the prototype and design to serve our beneficiaries with the best services possible.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

As a country with the world’s second youngest population, youth unemployment rate at 83%, Uganda sits at a critical juncture and its path forward lies in creating employment opportunities in agriculture for its youth which is currently though mostly subsistence contributing 24% to the national GDP.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

Our project idea has a time line of three years. With in the next three years, we shall select over 300 beneficiaries for the young farmers champions and ambassadors fellowship, take them through trainings in good agronomic practices, post harvest handling, group dynamics, record keeping, financial literacy, value addition, support them with farm inputs, crop insurance and link them to direct markets and graduate them as model farmers and ambassadors in their local communities.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

This idea will be implemented by our team headed by the C.E.O Mr. Tumwebaze Khamutima, deputized by the champions coordinator and the business development manager. This team shall work with our district extension workers and the beneficiaries to ensure the project achieves its intended objectives.

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Business Development/Partnerships

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Iterate or improve on my product/service

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We currently measure results through our strong monitoring, evaluation and reporting systems. Every month, we collect reports from our district extension agents on the progress of the young farmers gardens, record keeping practices, financial literacy practices, group dynamics practices, value addition practices and good agronomic practices. We also measure according to the amount of produce sold, number of model farms created and the impact created among the youth as a result of our program.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

For the last full year, we have engaged youth through the Young Farmers Champions and ambassador fellowship where fellows are empowered, supported with inputs and linked to direct markets. The user research has taught us the need to include mindset change trainings in our programs since most youth have a negative mindset towards farming the major reason they keep shunning it for other ventures.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

Our work is based on the assumption that if youth are empowered with good agronomic practices, supported with farm inputs and linked to better markets, more youth will be interested in joining the agriculture sector though access to land by these youth still remain a challenge since Uganda inheritance laws gives parents a mandate to give land to the youth when they are yet to die and at such a time most of their children are no longer youth.

Brief description of YOFCHAN

Young Farmers Champions Network (YOFCHAN) is a network of young farming ambassadors, role models and future influencers working together to shape the agriculture sector. We promote positive images and perceptions of farming among the youth through providing real life examples to young people who may have never considered a career in agriculture, developing confident, independent, reflective thinkers who can share their story and their personal experiences, while voicing their own opinions about agricultural issues in the industry. YOFCHAN equips and prepares its champions through lifetime mentorship programs, agricultural financing and market linkages, and also equips them with unique insights into all aspects of the agricultural supply chain as well as consumer attitudes and trends.

Our vision

A generation of empowered youth championing agriculture in Africa

Our Mission

To lobby, advocate and empower young farmers with entrepreneurial skills along the agricultural value chain

Core objectives

To build youth capacity and enterprises to practice farming as a business

To link the youth to agricultural financing opportunities

To link and facilitate better markets to the young farmers

To lobby and advocate for an enabling environment for youth involvement in farming as a business.

Our model

Young Farmers Champions Network selects youth through an annual call for applications to its Young Farmers Champions and Ambassadors Fellowship that takes a period of three years. Through this fellowship, youth are empowered with good agronomic practices, group dynamics, financial literacy, record keeping, post harvest handling and value addition skills, facilitated with agricultural finance, and market linkages for them to engage into farming as a business and after graduation as champions and ambassadors, these youth gardens work as demonstration farms where other youth interested in agriculture are trained by these ambassadors in local communities. These champions also act as a voice of other youth in agriculture to lobby and advocate for enabling environment for the youth to engage into farming as a business.

After youth are selected for the young farmers champions and ambassadors fellowship, we engage them through our four phase model that involves, young farmers mentorship and enterprise development, agricultural financing (Farm Inputs, post harvest tools and agricultural insurance), Market Facilitation for young farmers produce, lobby and advocacy for youth involvement into farming as business.

Phase 1:

Young farmers empowerment and Enterprise development; Because most of the youth we engage lack capacity to engage into farming as a business, we take the young farmers Champions and ambassadors fellows into capacity building trainings in good agronomic practices, group dynamics, financial literacy, record keeping and business plan writing, guide them on formalizing businesses and open up bank accounts.

Phase 2:

Agricultural Financing for the Youth; After young farmers champions and ambassadors fellows capacity building and enterprise development, we support them with farm inputs, post harvest tools and agricultural insurance to establish farms in their local communities that graduate as model farms after a period of three years.

Phase 3:

Market facilitation and linkages for the youth; At harvest, YOFCHAN takes the responsibility to sell the young farmers produce. We collect the produce, bulk and sell after collecting from all its young farmers operating model farms. We then pay them after selling and this normally takes a period of 15-20 days.

This is done for a period of three years after which the graduated young farmers can choose to continue bulking with us and are paid after selling. Alternatively, we have MOUs with the buyers to keep buying from all young farmers recommended by us on their terms.

Phase 4:

Lobby and advocacy; After three years, these youth graduate as champions and ambassadors and their farms are elevated as model farms and these champions use it as a training center for other youth interested in farming as a business. These champions also advocates for youth involvement into farming business with in local communities and with their support, YOFCHAN as a voice of young farmers advocates for youth mainstreaming in public and private agricultural sector planning and implementation process. We believe that there is nothing about the young farmers without involving them and therefore YOFCHAN works to bridge this gap by representing and ensuring that youth issues are mainstreamed at all levels for the benefit of young farmers.

We also organize monthly Coffee Eve events where young people interface with policy makers, private sector leaders and fellow youth in agriculture as they pitch and showcase their products and organize annual Young Farmers awards to reward most enterprising young farmers.

Explain your idea

My idea is to empower youth to become champions in agriculture and work together as ambassadors and role models to inspire and attract fellow youth into agriculture as a business in East Africa. This idea is already being piloted in Uganda where we have established a Young Farmers Champions Network. We put out a call every year, youth apply both online and through district agricultural production office, we receive these applications and select those youth that fit our criteria and take them through a comprehensive mentorship program that equip them with good agronomic practices, business plans development skills, group dynamics, financial literacy, record keeping, post harvest handling and value addition skills. We have so far selected over 50 youth through an annual call for applications for the Young Farmers Champions and ambassadors Fellowship program who have undergone mentorship, supported with inputs to do farming on a two acre farm and linked to better markets. My idea works to solve the problem of unemployment among the youth in East Africa currently at 60% and 83% among the youth aged between 18 to 30 years in Uganda by attracting and engaging youth into agriculture as a business through a youth to youth approach where youth are mentored, supported with farm inputs and linked to markets for them to succeed and act as agricultural ambassadors and role models in their communities. For example, over 400,000 youth enter the labor market annually to compete for only 90,000 formal jobs in Uganda and as a country with the worlds second youngest population and with one of the highest population growth rate at 3.03%, the amount of job seekers is expected to triple to 48 million by 2040. With an economy that relies on agriculture for economic growth and food security, Uganda sits at a critical juncture and its path forward lies in creating economic opportunities in the agricultural sector for its rural youth. Given that most youth are generally not interested in agriculture as a primary career path, given perceptions of hard work with little financial reward, they associate farming with their parents’ generation (subsistence farmers); poverty (low inputs and low yields); and sometimes punishment. In addition, lack of capital, credit, and financial assets, such as land ownership are disincentives, especially for girls and young women. This is why we came up with an approach that can inspire and prove to the youth that agriculture pays through empowering, financing and linking them to better markets for them to succeed and act as our ambassadors and role models in their communities because most youth believe what they see than what they hear and this is why we support our fellows to establish demonstration farms to inspire and attract youth into agriculture as a business by demonstrating that agriculture pays since most youth are always attracted to invest their resources and time in activities with quick and stable economic returns.

Who Benefits?

Our target beneficiaries are youth aged between 15-35 years. Interested youth apply through our annual call for applications for young farmers champions fellowship and the successful ones are taken through a mentorship program for two weeks twice a year for of period of three years until they become fully equipped with skills to engage in agriculture as a business. The mentorship program include trainings in good agronomic practices, business plan writing, group dynamics, financial literacy, record keeping, post harvest handling and value addition skills. We also support fellows to set up demonstration farms to showcase best and affordable agronomic technologies and practices, link them to better markets, guarantee them to access soft loans and work with government, schools and faith based institutions to offer land lease opportunities to the empowered youth and use social media as whatsApp and Facebook to provide agricultural extension services to the youth by our extension agents

How is your idea unique?

Most organizations that work to support youth in Uganda are not impact oriented, all they do is reach out to communities, get a big number of youth and undertake them into just a one or two days workshop and expect them to acquire the necessary skills to develop their enterprises which has proven unsuccessful. The uniqueness in our idea lies in our approach that addresses challenges that limit youth engagement into agriculture as a business as lack of farming skills, limited capital and better markets by training youth in good agronomic practices, group dynamics, financial literacy, post harvest handling, value addition and record keeping, support them with inputs to set up demonstration farms, link them to better markets, guarantee them to access soft loans and use social media as whatsApp, Facebook, to provide agricultural extension services to the youth. Our strength also lies in our strong governance system that ensures transparency, efficiency, accountability and teamwork

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Piloting: I have started to implement my solution as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about you

Young Farmers Champions Network is a non governmental organization with a mission to create a generation of empowered youth agricultural entrepreneurs by creating jobs along the agricultural value chain. We empower youth to become champions in agriculture and work as role models and agriculture ambassadors to attract more youth into agriculture as a business in local communities. We are based in Kampala Uganda with a vision of expanding our program to Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda with in the next five years. Because of our work, we were awarded Echoing Green Global Fellowship in 2016 to pilot our idea. Our work has also been profiled by Food and Agricultural Organization as one of the unique approaches that can attract youth into farming as a business. We are a team of six full time workers, five part time, four volunteers and five interns. We shall implement this idea as a team headed by the Chief Executive officer and deputized by the Champions coordinator to ensure that this idea is more successful.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

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Photo of Tumwebaze Khamutima
Team

Dear Kate

Thanks for this important question.

Yes, there are many types organizations we are looking forward to connect with towards implementing our project like farmers organizations in general, Conservation /environmental related organizations and community based organizations and we have already entered into memorandum of understanding with some of them like Kaserem Farmers Area Cooperative to promote youth engagement into farming as a business in Kapchorwa district of Uganda.

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