By Prossy Nandudu, 06 Jun 2015, New Vision (Uganda)
The minister of education, Jessica Alupo has asked university students to embrace agriculture as a commercial enterprise that will not only create for them employment but will transform the country into a middle income economy.
“If we do it commercially we can produce a lot of products for sale and earn from them as exports in addition to creating employment for yourselves and other students coming from universities looking for employment,” said Alupo. She was on Tuesday addressing 204 agriculture students going to Israel in September for internship.
“Many of you have been in class studying agriculture but we think the programme will enhance your skills more. When you go there observe discipline and ask all the questions and learn so that when you come back you become architects of transformation in agriculture” said Alupo. The students are heading to Israel under an agreement between government through the ministry of education and the Agro studies, an Israeli organization that provides apprenticeship in agriculture, combining advanced studies and hands on ‘learning by doing ‘ in various fields.
At the same function, the deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr.Earnest Okello Ogwang said that more than 80% of Makerere university population is youth who must benefit from the Agriculture apprenticeship programme in Israel. Yaron Tamir, the chief executive officer of Agro studies, said that moving Uganda’s agriculture forward requires joint efforts with experienced countries in the sector like Israel.
Supporting the sector through students internship programme will ensure new breed of interested parties in agriculture who can easily transform the sector. He told students that the internship programme is an intense one because it entails hard work. “We are going to teach you agriculture particles the way we know it and there are no shortcuts to it because it’s a practice and hands on session,” said Tamir.
He said that by the time students come back, they will be totally independent and will become successful farmers having acquired practices skills on the farm. “If you are a farmer you don’t need to be poor, farmers in Israel are rich because they don’t grow what their parents grew, ten years ago. For example ten years ago, Isreal was growing mangoes ,ten years later they were not profitable and are now focusing on avocado for export because its profitable at the moment ,five years later, it will be something else so that is how agriculture and farming should be conducted,” adds Tamir.
The programme coordinator, Issa Agaba adds that a total of 490 students from seven institutions applied and only 204 emerged successful. The seven participating institutions include Busoga university, Kyambogo university, Busitema university, Bukalasa agriculture college, Bishop Stuart, Makerere University, Afrisa college of agricultural and environment sciences, college of Natural Sciences among.