The country of Uganda is largely made up of small farms that grow coffee, tea, vegetables and other agricultural products. With the necessary expertise, many young people could look forward to a promising future in agriculture. Such opportunities often remain unused, however, because farming lacks in prestige and is seen as suitable only for the uneducated.
To improve the living conditions of a new generation of small farmers in Uganda, the Jacobs Foundation and the Hanns R. Neumann Stiftung launched the Youth Development Project, which operated in Uganda from 2013 to 2016. It provided specialized training for young people to enable them to support themselves by running a small business.
In 80 so-called Youth Farmer Field Schools, over 1,700 young people were trained in practical agricultural methods while also attending courses in financial planning and the management of a microenterprise. The Youth Development Project was originally conceived as an initiative for promoting education and integration into the labor market, but it gradually expanded to strengthen social cohesion in rural communities and raise participants’ standard of living. Incomes rose significantly, and the rate of property ownership increased as well. Children became more likely to attend school throughout the year, and women were given the opportunity to play a greater role in decision making, allowing them to assume more responsibility within their families. Attitudes toward agriculture became more positive, and interest in it increased.
The secret to the project’s success is the acquisition of knowledge in various interconnected areas. Through their practical agricultural training, the young participants learned how to earn money; in financial planning courses, they learned how to handle money; and in management training courses they learned how to invest money wisely.