A woman at a juice stand speaking to youth.

Nurturing Youth Agripreneurship in Uganda .

During an agricultural career exhibition organized by and for youth in Uganda, future agripreneurs, farmers, and agribusiness professionals learned to harness the wide variety of professional development opportunities in the sector.

Uganda is home to the world’s largest youth population, with more than 78 percent of its total population below the age of 30. Although unemployment poses a challenge to this vast demographic, the agriculture sector is ripe with opportunity. It contributes approximately 26.3 percent to the country’s gross domestic product and drives food security. But youth underestimate agriculture as a viable career beyond subsistence, family-owned farming. Negative perceptions of agricultural livelihoods persist despite the sector’s variety of market-driven careers, from information technology to business development. So how can youth harness “agripreneurship” as a path to prosperity?

Agripreneurship is the marriage of agriculture and entrepreneurship. It creates an innovative space for youth to exercise managerial skills and business acumen, all while generating growth and income in the agriculture sector. But the journey toward a rewarding agricultural career is competitive. Each year, 400,000 youth enter Uganda’s labor market and compete for only 80,000 formal jobs. Without the skills needed to engage the evolving agricultural value chain, access to formal opportunities is limited.

“Working in agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be working in a field all the time. You may work in finance, marketing, management, and numerous other fascinating, challenging jobs."

U.S. Ambassador Deborah Malac

As future agripreneurs, farmers, and agribusiness professionals, in- and out-of-school youth have a valuable role to play in the agricultural value chain, whether in production, post-harvest processing, or even retail. To encourage youth engagement in Uganda’s agricultural sector, USAID’s Feed the Future Youth Leadership for Agriculture (YLA) activity, implemented by Chemonics, is promoting workforce-readiness and market-driven skills development.

To provide a first-hand look at what the agriculture sector has to offer, YLA hosted Agrikool, an agricultural career exhibition organized by and for youth. A full-day showcase of professional development through agriculture, Agrikool drew more than 1,800 youth attendees and more than 90 exhibitors in Mbale, Uganda.

Agrikool encouraged attendees to pursue an agricultural career by highlighting the potential and future of agripreneurship and sustainable farming in Uganda. From machinery to marketing, youth agripreneurs in Uganda take on diverse opportunities along the agricultural value chain.

During Agrikool’s “Pathways Track” demonstration, youth walked along career “track stations” that were chronologically arranged to represent every stage in the value chain, while also showcasing the many career options that today’s agribusinesses offer. Exposure to these tracks interrupts a common perception among youth — that agriculture is not viable as a primary income-generating activity, and that agriculture is not cool.


youth enter Uganda’s labor market every year


exhibitors at Agrikool


youth attendees at Agrikool

After learning the diverse entry points to a career in agriculture, youth can proactively engage the sector as a channel toward economic prosperity. For example, with a motorcycle — or “boda boda,” as they are known in Uganda — a young man or woman can become a transporter between smallholder farmers and post-harvest enterprises like millers or roasters. Or, with bookkeeping and business management skills, youth can manage a buyer’s warehouse or distribution center.

In Uganda, youth acquire most of their know-how and knowledge about agriculture by working in subsistence, family-owned farming. But through Agrikool, youth learned the variety of agricultural pathways leading to financial independence. At the exhibition, U.S. ambassador to Uganda, Deborah R. Malac, celebrated the breadth of opportunities in Uganda’s agricultural sector.

“Working in agriculture doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be working in a field all the time,” said Ambassador Malac. “You may work in finance, marketing, management, and numerous other fascinating, challenging jobs.”

For Uganda’s growing number of youth, events like Agrikool showcase the support, mentorship, and resources available in an agricultural career path. Despite the challenges they may face along the way, introducing youth to the many possibilities of agripreneur livelihoods and careers in farming and agribusinesses is the first step toward seizing economic opportunity.