MUSHROOM PRODUCTION AND PROCESSING FOR SUSTAINABLE YOUTH EMPLOYMENT presented at INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM AND EXHIBITION ON AGRICULTURAL DEVELOPMENT 04 – 08 November, 2013, SERENA HOTEL – KAMPALA, UGANDA by by YOUTH EMPOWERMENT IN ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (YEED UGANDA) JOSEPH TAREMWA, BSC. HOT (AGRIC), PRACTICING FARMER, P.O BOX 27104 Kampala, Uganda +256-774949776/+256-701949776 Email:[email protected] Skype:jtaremwa1 Background Youth Empowerment in Enterprise Development (YEED Uganda) is • An agro-based company • Started in 2009 by the youth while students at MUK • To equip youths with practical agribusiness skills for sustainable employment. We train the youth in mushroom production, buy from them and process into mushroom soups and porridges. YEED Uganda YEED Uganda Impact • Increased mushroom production and introduced new and high paying varieties like shiitake • Has created employment opportunities to the youth. • Trained over 68 youth groups in mushroom production, practical entrepreneurship skills and practicing Farming as a Business (FaaB) • Been recognized both nationally and internationally by UNCST, younger achievers’ award, ILO etc • Trained over 68 youth groups in mushroom production, practical entrepreneurship skills and practicing Farming as a Business (FaaB) Challenges faced 1. Lack of a well-equipped processing plant with exact and massive production equipments 2. Inadequate startup capital 3. Competition from well-established international companies 4. Unfavorable policies on agribusiness financing 5. Unstable business cash flow How to attract and retain youth agribusiness. Attracting and retaining the youth in any agribusiness sector is an urgent task at hand and requires a multidisciplinary approach. Policy makers, NGO’s, must articulate a new vision of agribusiness that can be attractive to the young people and align with their aspirations and interests. a) Changing the image and perceptions about agribusiness in the face of the youth. b) Access to and affordable agricultural credit is a key factor. c) Redirecting the extension system towards Farming as a Business (FaaB) d) The government policies should feature the concerns of the youth in agribusiness sector. e) Efforts by the government and agri-support agencies to make inputs such as hybrid seed, fertilizers, basic mechanization and agricultural market information available and affordable.