Agriculture is the backbone of the East African regional economy, as it accounts for about 32% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth in the agriculture sector helps raise incomes, create employment opportunities, reduces poverty, and accounts for about 70% of employment opportunities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Despite being a field vibrant with innovations driven by young people, those engaged in agriculture are typically elderly, and the number of youth with jobs in agriculture continues to drop. Why are young people shying away from agriculture? How can agriculture be made ‘cool’ for the youth?
Agribusiness is one of the gold mines youth must discover. Elderly farmers have carried out agriculture on majorly a subsistence basis, rendering todays youths little to learn from their practices. Involving Africa’s youth in rural development, and agriculture will boost food security on the continent like in one of the strategies below:
Considering 10 acres of land, one can buy or easily hire it for 10 years for 3 closely related and commercially rewarding agricultural activities. Land for agriculture is largely available almost everywhere in rural Africa either for buying or hiring (leasing). On 10 acres, one can plant improved variety maize, rare pigs in one corner, and plant
trees on the same piece of land. Maize is harvested by 120 days producing a minimum of 3000kg per acre, making 30,000kg of corn. This can be sold raw at Ugx 1000/= earning the farmer a minimum of Ugx 30,000,000 (US$ 8,500), however, one can make more out of the same when corn is processed into maize flour. Corn worth 30,000kg produces 21,000kg of maize flour and about 7000kg of maize bran.
Maize flour can fetch (21,000kg x Ugx 1,700/=) Ugx 35,700,000/= (US$ 10,200) on wholesale price. The cost of growing improved variety maize for one season (120 days), including the cost of hiring land is a maximum of (US$ 2,429), leaving the farmer with US$ 7,771 profit in the first season, plus feeds (maize bran) for over 1000 piglets for 6 months at 1kg per day per piglet. Without piglets on the farm, one can sell the maize bran for a minimum of US$ 1000 however; using the maize bran for piglets can be more rewarding.
Pigs have a gestation period of only 112-115 days with one of the highest rates of reproduction in animals. Pigs can birth up to 15 piglets at once. Pigs are sold after 6 months weighing 60kgs per animal on average. The revenue potential is estimated at US$ 120,000 per year if one can produce 1200 pigs of 60kg in a year. The total capital investment for the pig project is US$ 17,750 and operating costs US$42,708 per year. The operating cost can reduce drastically if the animal feeds are readily available from the maize bran produced from the farm. The first season for the piggery business fetches US$ 60,000 and subsequent seasons can fetch an average US$ 80,000 profit per 6 months.
The business initiatives can fetch altogether an unprecedented US$ 155,542 with an investment of US$62,887 in the first year! Yet, the profit grows as the operational costs go down. The second year and subsequent years up to the 4th year of the project, the annual operational costs reduce to a maximum of US$ 47,000 while profit will increase to a minimum of US$ 170,000 per year!
Besides all this, the same piece of land can have eucalyptus trees that mature in 7 – 8 years, earning the farmer US$ 388,000 with a total investment of US$ 13,020 for the entire 8 years!
By: Joshua Musasizi