SUGECO want agribusiness vocational centre

18Nov 2021
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
SUGECO want agribusiness vocational centre

IN a bid to increase the number of youth engaging in agribusiness in the country, Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (Sugeco) wants the government to transform Mkongo Agricultural Youth Camp (MAYC) into an agricultural business vocational training centre.   

Program director at CAMFED Tanzania, Nasikiwa Duke (L) talking to young girls who completed training in agriculture production at Mkongo Agricultural Youth Camp in Rufiji district last week. Photo: Correspondent Gerald Kitabu.

Speaking at the graduation of young girls from marginalized section of the society in the country who completed their training at MAYC last week, Sugeco Executive Director, Revocutus Kimario said there is urgent need MAYC into the first agricultural business vocational training centre in the country.

Kimario said because there is no such specialized agribusiness training centre in the country, its time for the government to elevate and invest in the centre so that it can be able to train youth to be able to produce, manage and supervise farm activities.

“Production of high quality commodities and management of farm activities can be done properly if we have a specialised vocational training centre in agribusiness where youth are given knowledge and skills in the field,” Kimario said.

He said the vocational agriculture business training centre will help build competent and skilled youth who will serve smallholder farmers and help transform the country’s subsistence farming into commercial agriculture.

Commenting on the centre where the young girls had graduated, the Sugeco chief executive said MAYC which has been running since 2015, has trained hundreds on various aspects of value chains in horticulture, beekeeping, poultry farming and other commodities.

He commended the 53 young girls from different districts and regions who completed the course with sponsorship from a pro-girls charity called CAMFED. Most of the girls came from Iringa, Morogoro, Tanga and Coastal regions.

“This is a unique experience for us. It is the first time we are running a training focusing on women only from marginalized section of the society with support from CAMFED Tanzania,” he added saying the young girls have learnt how to add value to commodities before supplying markets.

The young girls had been at MAYC for two weeks undergoing hands on training on how to add value to different commodities including fruits and vegetables as well as training in non agricultural activities.

“We expect to see them implementing what they have learnt here at Mkongo camp. I understand that they have developed their own action plan from which Sugeco will use to develop a mentorship and business coaching programs for next six month,” he added.

Kimario said however that there are issues that need support for them to excel naming such things like compliance, standards, registration and formalization of their business so that they can be able to produce and sell their produce to premium markets locally and abroad.

Program director at CAMFED Tanzania, Nasikiwa Duke explained that the organization has entered into partnership with Sugeco to see how they can assist not only those who are at school but also those who have completed tertiary education.

Duke said agriculture is an area where young girls who are still at school and those who have finished or simply dropped out, can employ themselves by changing their mindset which regards farming as an occupation for illiterate people.

“CAMFED also supports young girls attending secondary schools and those who have completed form four. After completing, they joined agribusiness and agro processing. Some of them are aspiring to be occupational farmers,” Duke noted.

Commenting on the challenges they face after been supported, she said they include lack of land and capital to successfully venture into agribusiness ventures. The CAMFED chief executive called on the government to set aside land banks for youth to conduct agribusiness.

“Rufiji district has very fertile land and water that can do well in agriculture be it sesame, cassava whish can be processed before the final product is taken to the market to earn premium prices,” Duke added.

She said CAMFED also support the young girls to access to education and has been working with them after joining form one. The vulnerable girls were identified by district councils using the Ministry of Health guidelines. “We have been supporting them since they were in secondary school and for those who pass their examination to go to high school, we continue supporting them all the way till they finish high school,” she stated.

Closing the training, Rufiji District Commissioner, Major Edward Gowele said that the government will support them achieve their dreams by providing them with seed capital. Major Gowele said recently, the district supported 60 groups of youth and women with a 248m/- in concessional loans as per government directives.

“The government will work with Sugeco and other development partners to improve the camp’s training infrastructure so that many youth can benefit,” he said while commending Sugeco and CAMFED for the good work of building capacity and transforming the young girls many of which come from poor families.

“I recognize the huge contribution of CAMFED in supporting young girls and promise that Rufiji district will work closely with you,” he noted while revealing that CAMFED has supported more than 723  primary school young girls and 1,033 secondary school young girls in his district with a total investment of more than 266.44m/-.

He urged the young girls to be good ambassadors in implementing what they have leant saying the training received should be practiced and lead to desired fruits in their respective communities.

Established in 2005, CAMFED works with the government to boost secondary school enrolment especially for girls because Tanzania has one of the lowest transition rates between primary and secondary school in Africa.

CAMFED started working in Iringa town where many girls who couldn’t afford secondary school fees were leaving home to become house girls in urban centers. Since then, CAMFED has expanded its campaign countrywide and currently operates in 32 districts.