Youth Engagement in Agriculture in Uganda: Challenges and Prospects
Musa Lwanga, Mayanja
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The Ugandan population is to a large extent comprised of a high and increasing cohort of young people, close to 78 percent of the population is below the age of thirty. Evidence reveals that youth engagement in agriculture is declining amidst rising youth unemployment yet the services and industrial sectors despite growing at considerably faster rates have not created enough jobs for the burgeoning youthful labour force. This may have implications on food security, unemployment, and underemployment and may undermine the government efforts to drive economic growth through agriculture. Using data from the Uganda National Panel Survey data of 2005/6 and 2009/10, we examine youth employment dynamics across the different sectors and further provide insights into the determinants of youth participation in agriculture. Using the Uganda Census of Agriculture 2008/09, we further document the challenges and constraints inherent to the youth in agricultural production relative to adults. The findings reveal that youthful farmers are concentrated more in agricultural production. Furthermore, a relatively lower percentage of youth use improved inputs (such as improved seeds, fertilizers, agricultural chemicals and veterinary drugs). With this poor rate of adoption of appropriate inputs, productivity is likely to remain low and constrain the youth to subsistence farming. Furthermore, the youth are disenfranchised in the ownership and management of critical assets in agricultural production, especially land. Land tenure issues continue to impede many youths from engaging in agriculture, with the majority of youth using land without exclusive ownership rights. In addition, the results point to the fact that the youth are less likely to access credit, extension services and social capital (farmer group membership), all key factors in agricultural transformation. The in-depth analysis results seem to suggest that the youth with at least secondary education, males (both married and unmarried) and those youth residing in households with a large share of adults are less likely to engage in agriculture.