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Museveni flags 200 off to Israel for agriculture

Last week, President Museveni flagged off some 200 students, who are headed for a one year-internship to acquire agricultural skills in Israel.

Presiding at the formal sendoff ceremony at Kyambogo University, Museveni challenged the students to address their attitude to agriculture.

“The problem of Africa is wrong attitude. The trip to Israel is reminding you to do what you opted to do in agriculture, technical skills and agro-processing. If the trip helps you to acquire attitude change in agriculture, I will be very happy,” Museveni said.

Museveni encouraged the departing students to save the money they earn in Israel, so they can start their own agribusiness ventures when they return.

“If you save one dollar, the government will add to you two dollars, when you come back and be able to start your own agro enterprises. We shall support this because we are looking for farmers,” Museveni said.

In turn, the students pledged to transform the agricultural landscape in the country. Merab Acham, a veterinary medicine student from Makerere University, spoke on behalf of her colleagues.

“We have been always waiting for rain to do farming but Israel is a desert and it’s one of the best countries in agricultural production. So, we believe the skills we shall acquire will help in annual production and reduce on the problems of food scarcity in the country,” she said. “This is a life-changing opportunity to us since most of us have been taught in theory and lacked practical skills.”

The students are drawn from Makerere, Kyambogo, Busitema, Busoga, and Bishop Stuart universities as well as Bukalasa Agricultural College. The students will be attached to various farms across Israel in a bid to ensure that they acquire new knowledge and practical experiences from the best farmers.

At least 1,100 students from 17 countries worldwide are attaining modern agricultural skills in Israel. This is the second batch of students to head to Israel, after a previous cohort of 36, who completed their internship there recently and have just returned home. That cohort also produced the best three students, making Uganda the best.

The regional coordinator for Agro Studies, Issa Agaba Mugabo, explained that the paid apprenticeship for students combines both theoretical and practical agro studies.

“The students will receive a salary of at least $60 (Shs 150,000) per day for the work they will do on the farms and the farms will cater for their accommodation and upkeep in Israel,” he said.

Education Minister Jessica Alupo asked the beneficiaries to be good Ugandan ambassadors, since they had been selected through rigorous interviews.
Kyambogo University Vice Chancellor Prof Eli Katunguka said the students would engage in practical work at the farms, lectures and meetings at a specific centre with experts in agriculture.

The agricultural training programme started in 2011, when a committee headed by Prof Francis Omaswa visited Israel where they learnt that several countries were sending their students there to learn agriculture. At the end of the course, the students are assessed and awarded diplomas in Agro Studies.


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