For Elina Prisca Nabuzale, 17, a senior five student of Tororo Girls School, basketball was everything. Going for practice at the basketball court was a non-negotiable affair.
Nabuzale was so addicted to basketball that she dreamed of making it to the national league. That is until she was introduced to the agriculture club at school.
“My focus was mainly on basketball. But when I learnt of what my colleagues benefited from skilling in agriculture, which started at our school this year, I was inspired and joined the club. I have no regrets,” she said.
Nabuzale said she can now use a small piece of land to grow crops for both commercial and consumption purposes. She said that among the things she has learnt in skilling for agribusiness is how to make jackfruit cake, jackfruit wine and jam. Others are banana and potato cakes and cookies.
Rachael Nagudi Belinda, a student of Iganga SS, has learnt to make cocktail juice which they named Iganga Girls SS Cooperative (IGASCO) juice.
Nagudi says during her vacation she will use the skills to create jobs other than sit at home. Nagudi said they still have the challenge of pests and diseases, with the situation compounded by the fake drugs on the market. She appealed to the government to fight counterfeit drugs.
Nagudi and Nabuzale were speaking at Lugogo Indoor Stadium recently, where hundreds of students from six selected girls’ schools in the country turned up to exhibit their products at the agri-skilling fair.
The theme was ‘enhancing youth productivity through skilling in agriculture.’ The schools included: Gayaza High School, Luigi High School, Tororo High School, Iganga High School, Maryhill High School and Nyakasura School.
Dr Francis Obita, the food security specialist at AVSI Foundation, said all the selected schools in this programme were mainly girls’ since agriculture is a female-dominated field.
“In skilling agriculture, we focused most on changing the mindset of people about agriculture. We believe when a woman is changed, she can easily change others into agribusiness,” he said.
Obita said the Agriculture Sector Skills Council (ASSC) partnered AVSI for the SKY programme and A1 challenge Ladies Basketball Club to implement a five-year project titled ‘Skilling Youth for Employment in Agribusiness (SKY)’ to reduce the youth unemployment rate in the country and target the agribusiness sector.
He said they have engaged sports in skilling for agriculture which makes people active, motivated and work as a team.
Obita said youths they have mentored have started baking potato, banana and cassava cakes and cookies, which are new on the market, on top of practicing piggery, poultry and horticulture.
“We target youths from 14 to 35 years of age in the eastern, central and south-western region of the country. The implementation of the SKY project is through public-private partnership due to the rules they implement as the biggest employer and have a big resource base,” Obita said.
Obita said SKY is targeting at least 8,000 youths to be trained and about 4,000 should get jobs immediately after skilling.
John Makoha, the AVSI country representative, said they are training youths to use small pieces of land for agriculture and become job creators instead of job seekers.