Uganda stands proud as a nation with boundless potential and advantages. With a youthful population that comprises over 78 percent of its citizens, this advantage has been overshadowed by the looming spectre of youth unemployment, a challenge that threatens to darken the dreams of countless young people. As the sun sets on crowded city streets and tales of despair echo through urban alleys, there emerges a glimmer of hope—a path to prosperity that is rooted in our very own soil: agriculture.
Picture the bustling streets of Kampala, Mbale, Mbarara, and Fort Portal, teeming with young souls who have fled their villages in search of livelihoods. These cities, once seen as beacons of opportunity, now host a grim tale of unrealized dreams and unfulfilled aspirations. The streets have become their canvases, but not for art or innovation. Instead, they paint a grim picture of crime, drug abuse, and shattered lives.
It was during a heart-to-heart conversation with an old friend, a fellow youth who found himself disillusioned by the city’s elusive promises, that I truly understood the power of returning to our roots. Elone’s story unfolded like a beacon of light in the darkness. Faced with a stark choice after university, he chose the path less travelled—a journey back to his village, back to the land that held the promise of a better future.
Elone embraced commercial farming, transforming his small piece of earth into a haven of opportunity. What was once mere soil now thrives with life—a testament to the potential that lies within the embrace of agriculture. With determination and hard work, he not only lifted himself out of poverty but also provided employment to over 30 individuals. As the earth yielded its bounty, so did his heart, and he proudly pays his dues to the government.
Listening to Elone’s story at our school reunion, a realisation dawned upon me. The societal stigma attached to rural life and the fear of being labelled as “villagers” had been holding us back. Our parents’ lands, those very expanses we had often overlooked, held the keys to our liberation from unemployment’s clutches. Elone’s story resonated deeply, as it highlighted the truth that embracing our roots is not synonymous with failure; instead, it is a leap towards empowerment and success.
In a world that often equates success with a corporate desk and a city skyline, Elone’s journey reveals a different narrative. He traded the corporate corridors for lush fields, and in return, the land rewarded him tenfold. With his commitment, Elone now earns UGX 15 million from his thriving dairy and poultry enterprise. A stark comparison to the hypothetical 2 million shillings he might have earned in a corporate job, this vividly illustrates the value that lies within the embrace of agriculture.
Uganda’s vision for prosperity is painted with vibrant hues through initiatives like Operation Wealth Creation. These programmes provide the logistical support needed for subsistence farmers to flourish. As the youth of Uganda, it is our duty to seize these opportunities and position ourselves as beneficiaries of the Parish Development Model. We must transform ourselves from labourers in subsistence farming to creators of commercial success.
Commercial agriculture, with its modern techniques and methods, serves as the bridge to this promising future. President Museveni aptly notes that commercial farming thrives on collaboration and employment. As we cultivate the land, we also cultivate livelihoods, offering our fellow youth a chance to break free from unemployment’s chains. It is through such endeavours that we can bridge the gap between aspiration and achievement.
As young Ugandans, we stand on the precipice of transformation. The key to unlocking our potential lies not solely in urban promises, but in the richness of our villages, the embrace of agriculture, and the unity of purpose. Let’s cultivate a prosperous future, tilling the soil with our dreams and reaping the rewards of our collective efforts.