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Youth in Agroecology National Caravans

Agriculture presents a unique opportunity for youth to create decent work for themselves and others. With the current impacts of climate change and global warming, sustainable agriculture is a solution to find a good balance between the need for food production and the preservation of the ecological system within the environment. Therefore; introducing youth to successful agricultural businesses founded on agroecological principles is an integrated solution to contribute to the sustainability of food systems, youth employment, and socio-economic transformation. That is why the YALTA Initiative in collaboration with different partners organized the Youth in Agroecology National Caravans.

A Youth Caravan is an activity that introduces youths to successful business models or links them to successful individuals or organizations such as SMEs businesses, research and academia institutions, innovative business models, etc. The youth caravans were held in March - April in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia with the aim of gaining practical knowledge, skills, approaches, through peer 2 peer exchanges and learn from youth-led agribusiness enterprises, exposure field visits to youth-led and successful farms/firms within and beyond their own horizons. Several partners and experts encouraged the youth to opening up their minds to the new ways of engaging in the agroecology business, taking into consideration the good quality of the products/service. They were advised to start small and expand based on the market size. Development partners shared available opportunities and financing institutions promised a strong collaboration with youth to secure investment capital.

“According to a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) study, 80% of the currently 2.3 million Youth who are unemployed are young adults between the ages15 & 34 years (World Bank, 2014).”

In Uganda, 40 youth gained insights on how to apply agroecology principles by conducting a learning visit to different enterprises like Kwagala Farm, Excel Hort Agribusiness Incubation Center, Gudie Leisure Farm, IBO Mixed Farm, and Delta Bees that ventured into the beekeeping, banana farming business, and they also got insights on how to integrate their farms with agrotourism. Youth developed a joint issues paper, presented to policymakers for agroecology enabling environment in Uganda.

The Kenya Youth and Agroecology Caravan also engaged both youth and partners; provided a platform for sharing and learning from real-life experiences by youth from different regions of the country. One group of partners spearheaded the Western and Riftvalley caravan while another group of partners spearheaded the Upper Eastern and Lower Eastern regions of Kenya. Youth participants visited different businesses including GBIACK (training center bio-intensive agriculture), Africa IPM (agroforestry and integrated pest management), SACDEP (college of sustainability), and also visited CIFORD a community engagement platform for farmers engaged in agroecology. The caravans saw over 60 youths undergo training and experience in the topics of Regenerative agriculture, organic farming, access to finance, policy engagement, soil fertility, agroforestry, access to markets.

The Rwanda the Youth Caravan was held in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Rwanda. YALTA partners within the consortium helped to identify places to be visited by the youths and facilitated over 50 youth to learn more about agroecology as a business, field visits held at Uburanga Agro-processing Company, IREBE Social Development ltd, and HUMURA Agroecology Center. The learning visits provided a platform for sharing and learning from real-life experiences by youth agripreneurs with successful & scalable agroecological business models like mushroom farming, fruits&vegetables grown in an agroecological way, and basics of processing soaps from avocados. The emphasis was also made by engaging policymakers and researchers for the review of the educational curriculum of universities and TVETs taking into account agroecology as a course.

The youth caravan in Ethiopia included field visits to “Push and Pull technology” sites, drip irrigation systems, sharing experiences on vegetable organic farming at TVET college, and learning visit to Wonchi Ecotourism site where youth learned about ecosystem management and agroecology practices. Youth and partners exchanged ideas on the agroecology policy brief and discussed challenges faced by youth in the implementation of their businesses in agroecology.

A big thank you

To everyone who participated in these caravans including youth, YALTA partners in Rwanda (Three Mountains Learning Advisors, Youth in Agribusiness Forum, Rwanda Organic Agriculture Movement, Agriterra Rwanda, Help a Child Rwanda, SNV Rwanda, University of Rwanda/CAVM College, YEAN, and UNILAK University), YALTA partners in Uganda (PELUM Uganda, KCOA, ACSA, CAPCA, CIDI, and UNFCVP), YALTA partners in Kenya (Africa Agribusiness Academy, Agriterra, EAFF, Practical Action, FAO, PELUM Kenya, SNV, and World vegetable Centre) and YALTA partners in Ethiopia (Fair&Sustainable). Your collaboration made this caravan a success! Together we can promote Agroecology and empower our youth to achieve sustainable food systems.

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