detail - Foundation Office Uganda and South Sudan
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The “Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives” (Think Tank) is an initiative of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung to enhance youth participation in governance and policy formulation in Uganda. It is comprised of highly qualified and committed young Ugandans, who interact and work together on a regular basis to analyze policy issues and develop policy alternatives from the perspective of the young generation. The group members lead by example in the promotion of issue-based and constructive dialogue and debate, adhering to the guiding principles of tolerance and objectivity.
As one of the thematic areas for this year, the think tank has carried out research on the agriculture sector in Uganda seeking to find an explanation for the low participation of youth in meaningful agriculture. Uganda is known as a largely agricultural country. However, the biggest population - the youth – are either not interested in the sector or at least reluctant to join the sector to harness its potential for economic development personally and for the country.
Out of the round 11 million youths in Uganda, over 80% live in rural areas with females constituting the largest share (UBOS, 2010). The cohort of Ugandans between 12 and 30 years is the largest in history and is growing (IYF, 2011). Ideally, the rural areas provide a ripe environment for agriculture given that there are still large chunks of unused land as well as the presence of many youth, who are not productively engaged and are available as labor. This context strengthens the call for a policy around agriculture that addresses the challenged keeping the sector form fully flourishing and realizing is developmental, but especially job-generating potential.
While many young Ugandans seek formal employment in the service sector, it is clearly not large enough to provide a lasting solution to youth unemployment, demonstrated by the fact that the number of people entering the labor force far outweighs the number of jobs available in the formal wage sector (Ahaibwe, Mbowa and Lwanga, EPRC, June 2013). The Young Leaders Think Tank for Policy Alternatives interrogates the available options to absorb the large numbers of unemployed youth. The untapped potential in agriculture provides the opportunity for Uganda to move to another level. The agriculture policy paper looks at the different perspectives and provides workable alternatives. Key debate will be the question how the two strands of developmental theory around agriculture can be combined. One school would put forward an approach of market opening and incentivizing large scale investors to realize quick economic development benefits. On the other hand, agriculture as the sector that shows the most promise for sustainable poverty reduction for the rural population combined with the strong dependency of the Ugandan population on subsistence farming, calls for a policy of protectionism and capacity building of local farms and cooperatives. As these two policy directions are inherently contradictive, the Think Tank will interrogate their validity and the possibilities of building a national policy stand that combines both and creates a hybrid policy to realize benefits for both large scale economic impact as well as rural empowerment and wealth creation.
After thorough discussions and consultations within the think tank, it is important at this point to subject the policy paper to discussion with experts in the agriculture sector. This round table discussion is intended to elicit views from people working directly and indirectly in agriculture to enrich the discussions. The roundtable will target selected experts who will interact with the members of the think tank to put the views presented into perspective.