Esther Alumba is a Canadian Gender Advisor volunteer that has been in Ugandan since January 2017. She has been working with the Uganda Crane and Creameries Co-operative Union (UCCCU) to engage youth in the dairy co-operatives in Mbarara in the South-Western region of the country.
In accordance with one of the objectives of the Uganda Crane and Creameries Co-operative Union (UCCCU), Esther and the gender team are making sure young farmers’ groups are formed within various co-operatives through mentorship activities undertaken by the main co-operatives. So far six youth groups have been formed with more to come before the end of the year.
The rationale for youth interventions is based on the fact that there are fewer and fewer youth interested in farming. As the older farmers age and become weaker, the younger ones (their sons) are expected to be taking responsibility for the farms. Instead they are not interested and more and more are growing up without the dairy farming skills, passion and knowledge their parents had. This gap is a threat to UCCCU and to dairy sector because there is no clear strategy for continuity and sustainability.
Some of the issues around dairy farming include:
- The work is a challenge and there is no technology in place yet to make it easier.
- There is reduced labor to milk the cows.
- Farm workers are not motivated because they cannot earn as much from farming as they would like to.
- Quality control of milk is a challenge with hired farm labour.
Given the above stated issues, there is a need for the government and partners in the country to have a strong strategy for the future.
What VWB/VSF is doing to enhance youth involvement in the dairy sector
- Helping youth to understand the opportunities and challenges that are present in the sector so that they can be able to make informed decisions.
- The youth are being encouraged to take lead in the dairy sector space, for instance being in cooperatives management. This will enable their voices to be heard and policies that favor their growth implemented.