Involvement of youth in irrigated vegetable production is changing attitudes towards agriculture in Northern Uganda

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

In Northern Uganda, agriculture has often been considered as a dirty job and as something, that is taken as a last resort for those who have failed in other aspects of life. Odokopira Geoffrey used to have this perspective. He had to walk for 9 km to get to town and work in a petrol station as a pump attendant. He had no clear knowledge of vegetable production and was reluctant in going into agriculture, even though he used to see members of his community participating in a few agricultural activities under a group called Rwot Aye Layab, which was supported by local authorities. 

The GIZ programme Promoting Rural Development in Northern Uganda (PRUDEV) included Rwot Aye Layab in its activities, in the year 2020,  to support small-scale irrigated agriculture, a field of activity that is being implemented by AFC since June of 2019. AFC supports some 1,020 small-scale farmers, organized into 53 groups via 26 community-based trainers, which are trained and coached by AFC local staff and external advisors. The irrigated production puts a special focus on horticulture during the dry season (cabbage, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, eggplant and watermelon), when market prices and marketing opportunities are high. 

Geoffrey joined the Rwot Aye Layab group and since the other group members knew him since childhood and were sure that he is a responsible person, they entrusted him the role of community-based trainer and soon he started to attend the related capacity building events, organized by AFC project staff. Geoffrey was trained on irrigation and planting techniques, proper seed selection, pests and disease control, amongst others. Now, he is not only advising his group, but also another group of small-scale producers in the community where he comes from. 

Geoffrey has mastered the art of staggering production of his vegetables. This, according to him, helps in maintaining his buyers. As soon as he is finished selling lot A, of for example cabbages,  lot B will be getting ready for sale. Geoffrey has the special attribute of being practical in nature. He is producing cabbages, tomatoes and watermelon for sale in the municipal market throughout the year. His economic success made him change his attitude of looking at agriculture as being for the old and failed persons in life to a change agent, training adults and youth in his community. ‘I have managed to buy 5 female goats and 1 male to multiply and paid the school fees for my younger brother. I intend to take my daughter to pre-school in town next year, since as you can see in our village we do not have pre-schools or nursery schools around even the primary schools are not less than 4 km from here. I have known the goodness of education and I must work hard to see that my children get to school and finish well. All these are attributed to trainings I get from staff of PRUDEV and the exposures given to me’. 

For more information about the project contact: Matthias.Webendoerfer [at] afci.de