Youth in southern highlands urged to chip in, grab opportunities

15Jun 2021
Gerald Kitabu
The Guardian
Youth in southern highlands urged to chip in, grab opportunities

​​​​​​​SOKOINE University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (SUGECO) and partners have unlocked potentials in the southern highland regions, calling on the youth to come forward in big number and grab available opportunities on agribusiness.  

Some of the youth groom up by SUGECO in jovial mood after successful venturing in agribusiness. Photo: Correspondent Gerald Kitabu

The cooperative and partners said they are ready to groom up the youth, provide training, share information, link them with value chain actors and financial sources so that they can take up innovative ideas and venture into profitable agribusiness.

They made the call recently during Jiajiri business dialogue and expo held at MATI Uyole in Mbeya region. The discussion brought together youth from Southern highlands particularly Njombe, Iringa, Songwe, Mbeya, Rukwa and Katavi.

SUGECO Executive director Revocatus Kimario said that there is no reason why the youth in the Southern regions should not venture into agribusiness while the regions are endowed  with plenty natural resource, good climatic condition and fertile land for fruitful agribusiness    

“We have opened SUGECO branch at MATI Uyole in Mbeya region to serve for the Southern highland regions to change youth mindset that’s why you see this event has brought together the youth and agribusiness value chain actors, stakeholders and partners to discuss on how the youth can create employment through agriculture and agribusiness value chain.

He said Jiajiri business dialogue combined the ecosystem to dialogue, discuss and share information on what the agribusiness value chain actors, stakeholders and partners can offer in their projects and programs.

“The main objective is to show them the opportunities and room to grasp the opportunities. Seeing is believing, now they have seen for themselves from what practitioners are doing, we want them to go and venture into agribusiness,” he said.

Operations Manager Joseph Masimba challenged the youth to stop wasting their time on unnecessary issues that will not help them, instead they should take advantage of the training and partners efforts to venture into agribusiness.  “If you want to make substantial progress towards attaining your goal, it is important to shun from unnecessary issues and start agriculture and agribusiness,” he said

Iringa based Hadija Jabiry,  founder and director of GBRI Business Solutions Limited, a horticultural export company branding European shelves with fresh produce from Tanzania said with commitment and determination to the course, the youth can successfully venture into agribusiness

“I am here to inspired you nothing is impossible. Don’t get discouraged. Start now, commit to agribusiness. There are challenges but you can over-come them easily  if you stay focused, she said.

One of the beneficiaries of Jiajiri business dialogue Suzan Lyimo, a third year student from Mbeya University of Science and Technology (MUST)  said that she has been inspired by speakers, acquired technical knowledge, skills and potential of agribusiness. “I have also leant about competency, innovation potential of agribusiness and how to access funds from financial institutions,” she said.

Program Director for Helvetas Tanzania which is one of the main partners of SUGECO, Daniel Kalimbiya urged the youth and women to venture into horticulture production and marketing to increase food security and nutrition in the southern highlands.

Funded by European Union, Helvetas is implementing a project on empowering women and youth in horticulture production and marketing. The overall objective of the project is to contribute to inclusive economic growth, promote private sector development and job creation in the horticulture sector, and increase food security and nutrition in Tanzania’s Southern highland regions particularly Songwe, Mbeya and Katavi.

“We are planning to reach and support a total of 75,000 people in smallholder farm households and 500 farmer groups, associations and processors in the southern highlands,” he said.

The project is aims at improving income  and nutrition in the regions through targeted interventions in the horticulture sector by capacity building and training the farmers in good horticulture practices (GHP) and climate smart agriculture .

The smallholder farmers are being trained on business development, promotion of innovative technologies, value addition and processing. Promotion of market research through visits, trade fairs and media and support to public-private partnership through the development of small-medium scale horticulture industrial parks.

He said the horticulture industry in Tanzania is the fastest growing sub-sector with a growth rate of -10 percent per year. It is mostly dominated by smallholder farmers including women and the youth. 

Program Coordinator for Rikolto Tanzania Shukuru Tweve said women and the youth should venture in horticulture for quick returns.

“Many youth are completing schools and University but cannot all be absorbed by formal employment. Agricultural sector has proved to be one of the solutions. Rikolto through funding from European Union and the government of Tanzania we are working on agri-connect project to translate their ideas into action,” he said.

He said that agri-connect project is being implemented in five regions of Njombe, Iringa, Mbeya, Songwe and Katavi where the youth are being trained and groomed up through a special generation program.

Financial institutions such as NMB got an opportunity to discuss with women and the youth funding programs, opportunities  and soft credits they offer in agribusiness .

Earlier on, Principal MATI Inyala, Eng. Fredrick Batakanwa who represented the director for training on services and research urged the youth and university graduates to change their mindset and start thinking self employment and creating jobs through agribusiness. He commended SUGECO and partners for organizing Jiajiri business dialogue to inspire and equip the youth with hands-on skills useful for agribusiness.

He said that nowadays MATI has moved from theory based training to competent based training.

“When the students get in the class, he or she will spend 60 percent for practical and 40 percent for class. So, I recommend SUGECO and partners for coming up with this dialogue and they should conduct this in all MATI across Tanzania,” he said.   

In a move to promote agribusiness, groom up the youth and change their mindset, recently, SUGECO launched Kizimba Business Model (KBM) in Morogoro which is an entrepreneurial approach for agriculture sector development where a block of land is developed with all necessary infrastructure and facilities divided into small units called Kizimba and leased or transferred to individual farmers.