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Empower Youth to become champions in local communities and work together as role models to inspire and attract other youth into agribusiness

We work to attract youth into commercial farming as a solution to youth unemployment through empowerment, financing and market linkages.

Photo of Young Farmers Champions Network
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Uganda has the world’s second youngest population with 83% unemployment rate, 3.03 population growth rate and each year, 400,000 youth enter the labor market and compete for only 9,000 formal jobs and the amount of job seekers expected to triple to 48 million by 2040, coupled 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.

Our idea is to break these barriers and engage youth into farming as a cool and decent business. We organize young farmers into groups, 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, provide input credit and link them to financial institutions and better markets. We are currently working with 1500 youth groups. When youth are empowered and successful, they work together as ambassadors and role models to inspire and attract fellow youth into agriculture as a business in local communities.

This approach is meant to inspire and prove to the youth that agriculture pays 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 are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our target beneficiaries are youth aged between 15-35 years. young farmers are taken through a mentorship program that 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? (1,000 characters)

Most organizations believe its hard to attract youth into farming due to youth limited access to land, finance and market and negative attitudes towards agriculture but for us, we provide a holistic approach that focuses on youth capacity building, access to land through group farming, farm input credit support, finance and market linkages. We also offer cool extension services through social media like Facebook and WhatsApp where the youth group leaders are equipped with smart phones, trained on how to use them to take pictures of affected plants and then our standby online extension officers receive the pictures and advise the farmers accordingly. We also organize annual young farmers football cup and young farmers awards to make agriculture cool to the youth.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Pilot: I have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Young Farmers Champions Network is a non governmental organization with a mission to create a generation of empowered youth agricultural entrepreneurs in East Africa 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. www.yofchan.org

Expertise in sector

  • 3-5 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

At home and school, we used to be punished with a chunk of land to dig and this gave me a negative mindset towards farming. It was 2015 that i visited a friend of mine whose parents were commercial farmers and all his school fees had come from farming. I came to believe that farming is not a punishment instead a job opportunity hence the formation of Young Farmers Champions Network where successful young farmers take the lead to inspire fellow youth into farming as a cool and decent business.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

1. Prosperity. Uganda still faces considerable challenges in meeting its poverty eradication objective of reducing absolute poverty to less than 10% of the population by 2020. In Uganda, the rural areas account for 85% of the population and 94.4% of the poor. Though subsistence, Agriculture supports the livelihoods of 73% of the households.
2. Planet. Agriculture in Uganda is mainly rain fed and based on subsistence farming; challenging the sustainability and food security of farmers and making the sector highly vulnerable to weather variability, climate hazards and climate change. We promote climate smart agriculture to address this by training farmers on crop diversification, small-scale irrigation, permanent planting basins, green manuring, conservation agriculture and agroforestry. In livestock, we promote adoption of improved breeds, improved feeding regimes, grazing land management and integration of biogas.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The organization was formed In 2016 and we have since worked with different partners. We won the Echoing Green global fellowship in 2016 which helped us establish internal systems and test the idea and in 2017, we received a grant from Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to promote decent work for youth in agriculture and organize annual young farmers champions awards where 25 champions were selected from different parts of the country and awarded in appreciation for their great work as a way of inspiring them and attract other youth into farming business. We also worked with Operation Wealth creation that helped us support our youth groups with high quality farm inputs. We are looking forward to work with more stakeholders as government, donors, civil society organizations and youth led associations to help us reach out to more youth, engage them into agribusiness and create shared value.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

In this space, we have different organizations as Uganda National Farmers Federation, Uganda Youth Network whose mandate is to build capacity of youth to engage into gainful employment but unfortunately they stop on trainings but for us we provide a holistic approach that builds youth capacity, provides input credit, finance and market linkages. We are also working in an environment where over 83% of the youth are unemployed hence ready to take up employment opportunities in agriculture.

Geographic Focus

Our focus for this idea will be implemented in Uganda.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

We shall need 30 moths to implement this idea.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • Yes

If Yes, how has project idea changed, grown, or evolved since last year? (2,000 characters)

When we started this idea, our focus was on organizing young farmers competitions and work with the successful youth to establish model farms where fellow youth learn on good agronomic practices hence engage into farming as a business but a long the way, we realized that the youth challenges of limited access to land, finance and market is still the biggest impediments for youth engagement into farming as a business and can not just be addressed by rewarding successful youth instead a mix of building young farmers into champions and engaging the already existing champions to inspire other youth would create more impact and as a result;
1. We came up with an approach to organize aspiring youth into youth groups, equip them with the necessary skills as good agronomic practices, group dynamics, record keeping, post harvest handling and value addition.
2. Input credit support where these youth are given inputs but pay back at harvest time.
3. We also came up with a market driven approach where we engage buyers, come into memorandum of understanding and then organize youth as out-growers of these ready markets.
4. Build capacity youth to be bankable by enabling them come up with business plans, keep records and have audited books so that they can easily access loans.
5. We also came up with cool agriculture extension services through WhatsApp where the youth champions leaders are trained on how to operate smartphones, equipped with one and use it to track the progress of other young farmers gardens and in cace of any problem, the champions take pictures, report to our standby agriculture extension officers by just sending the pictures and receive advice on-spot.

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Photo of Kanika Verma
Team

Q-What is the advantage of demonstration farms? Can such facilities also be provided at existing farmhouses, Which would be a better strategy?
Q- Can current farmers be involved side-by-side with youths?

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