She has an infectious smile that gives an assuring sense of hope for a better future in Uganda’s semi-arid Karamoja region of Northern Uganda, where droughts are common, with temperatures reaching as high as 40c. But 23-year-old Nakiru Napeyok spends most of her time in the garden growing vegetables and maintaining her tree nursery.
Nakiru, a mother of one child, never had an opportunity for formal education. She says her parents were unable to send her to school due to poverty. She decided to move from place to place, looking for casual work to make ends meet already at a young age. All this was not a pathway to a bright future.
Nakiru is among a number of youth working under AgroMax, a private sector partner supported by GOAL Uganda. Nakiru and her fellow youths received guidance on agronomic practices such as crop farming and on establishing a Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA). As such, she was able to sell vegetables around her village of Lokiraut in Nadunget sub-county in Moroto. On other occasions, she moves with some of the vegetables to Moroto town, where she has established a clientele who often order supplies from her garden.
Supported by GOAL and in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, under Young Africa Works: Markets for Youth Programme, Nakiru graduated on May 4th 2023, among 104 other lead extensionists from Moroto, Kotido, and Abim districts. The participants successfully completed a six-month course at the AgroMax demonstration farm in Nadunget Sub County. This achievement is building on earlier registered successes of the government’s Northern Uganda Social Action Fund Project (NUSAF 3) implemented under the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in the Karamoja region.
The Government’s Role
According to the Assistant Commissioner in charge of Karamoja Affairs, Tonny Ameny, the Ministry of Education has supported the training, assessment, and certification of 105 youth as lead agriculture extensionists.
“This team of extension workers graduated in various fields of irrigation, tractor operations, poultry, apiary, animal husbandry, horticulture, nursery management, and agroforestry. These extensionists will cascade these skills through organised community group training and outreach to more than 28,000 youth across the region,” he noted.
The AgroMax Project Coordinator for Moroto district, Proscovia Akol, puts the task facing Nakiru and other change agents in perspective. Proscovia says that the trained agricultural extensionist youth are now change agents in their communities, with each assigned 15 youths to be skilled in various agricultural techniques and practices.
“In the end, we expect to have a total of 273 registered change agents who will be the driving force in the various communities to bring about the transformation we desire to see in the agricultural livelihoods of the Karamojong people,” she explains. As part of the training, Nakiru is glad to have also gained financial literacy, which she says is helping her to make informed decisions about saving with her VSLA in order to expand her business.
“Last year, I saved over UGX 800,000 (about $215), which has enabled me to plough 2 acres of gardens for planting vegetables, maize, sorghum, and peas as to fight hunger and be more food secure,” she says. Nakiru says she is energised to work even harder in her garden so that she can fill the gap for the demand of vegetables in the Karamoja region.
Are all challenges solved?
Unfortunately, not all challenges are solved for farmers like Nakiru. Prolonged droughts affected her produce on the farm and caused a loss of income. Access to farm machinery as well as to finance for expanding her business are also limiting her efforts to increase her
About the ‘Markets for Youth’
The Markets for Youth Programme is supporting access to dignified and fulfilling work for 300,000 young people in rural Uganda, of which 210,000 are young women, 30,000 are young refugees, and 15,000 are young persons with disabilities. By May 2023, the programme has reached 125,000 youth, of whom 105,000 are in work.
The Young Africa Works in Uganda: Markets for Youth programme is implemented by
together with Private Sector and Civil Society partners, in partnership with