To implement the new initiative, the government has set aside Sh2.9bn to equip the youth with knowledge to transform agriculture and create employment opportunities.
Launching the project at Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (SUGECO) centre in Morogoro recently, Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Persons with Disabilities Anthony Mavunde said the project will benefit at least 20,000 youth from 84 district councils in 12 regions.
To ensure the project’s success, he said the government has put in place a very close monitoring mechanism to ensure value for money. During the implementation period of the project, funds are expected to be used according to the planned project goals and objectives.
At least 100 youth from each district council will be reached out in Shinyanga, Geita, Mwanza, Mbeya, Iringa, Ruvuma, Lindi and Dodoma between January and March this year.
Other districts such as Kilimanjaro, Manyara, Kagera, and Simiyu will be reached between March and June, 2019.
Mavunde said that after the training there will be a need to impart the knowledge and skills to other youth in the district councils to get more experience in modern agriculture.
“The youth are economically enabled so that they can also bid for tenders and also provide training consultancy for green house construction, installation and farming technology,” he said.
He challenged youth companies to train more youths to enable the government to benefit from the project.
“We do not want to see the project fail. Do your work with diligence. This will make the government trust you and offer you other consultancies in future,” he said.
He directed that all consultants who have won tenders to execute them well, at the same time ensuring the trainings being offered are clear and of high quality.
The youth project is in line with the National Development Vision which guides socio-economic development efforts up to the year 2025 with a view to providing an enabling environment to youth including university graduates.
It also takes into account of the agriculture sector and its value chains as a major drive of industries.
The project therefore aims at addressing agricultural challenges by improving it so that it can be efficient and effective and contribute to national economic growth.
“The government has paved the way, I call on other stakeholders such as the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation and the Association of Tanzania Employers to borrow a leaf from the government to join hands and provide consultancy for the youth,” he said.
Deputy Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office responsible for persons with disabilities Stella Ikupa explained that one cannot talk about industrial investments without agriculture.
She said persons with disabilities can easily access loans to invest in modern agriculture if they have expertise in the construction of green houses, their installation and farming technologies, she said.
“I would advise that for every 100 youths trained in every district council that will be involved in green house construction, installation and farming technology skills, you should consider at least 20 persons with disabilities,” she said.
The deputy minister hailed Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (SUGECO) and other youth companies for their creativity, saying the government would work with youth creative companies to ensure their economic development in order to spur the nation’s economy.
Acting Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS) for Morogoro region Ernest Mkongo urged the youth to learn from SUGECO, saying it was the only way to create employment opportunities and ensure development.
He said almost all the crops grown in Tanzania such as maize, sunflower, beans, cassava, sesame and rice thrive well in Morogoro region and productivity has been increasing on an annual basis.
“The RAS office provides very good and close cooperation to SUA. If there is any challenge, please don’t hesitate to approach the office so that together we can address the problem,” he said.
SUA Deputy Vice-Chancellor Prof. Fredrick Kahimba commended the government’s initiative, saying through SUGECO the youth will get skills to effectively and efficiently implement the project.
He urged the youth who will be allocated in different district councils to be good ambassadors. He warned that if they let down the project, they would never be trusted again and they will deny opportunities for many youth in the country.
Executive Director for Sokoine University Graduate Entrepreneurs Cooperative (SUGECO) Revocatus Kimario said the government initiative will ensure youth gain required knowledge and skills to create employment in the country.
More than 95 of the youth who will go to implement this project are products of SUA. However, there are other youth from UDOM, UDSM, ARDHI and RUAHA universities.
He said the trainers of trainees (TOT) involved 50 youth from different agricultural fields such as agricultural engineering, water and irrigation engineering, horticulture, economics and agribusiness.
“In the implementation of youth involvement in agriculture strategy 2016-2020, and directives of the CCM party manifesto of 2015 state clearly about building capacity to farmers in terms of modern agriculture, farm inputs and agro-extension officers and how to access reliable markets for their crops. Therefore, SUGECO is implementing these directives by participating in sensitization of the youth to venture into agriculture and agribusiness and ensuring mindset transformation,” he said.
SUGECO is also collaborating with other local and international organizations to provide education, such as in 2016/17 it worked with FAO to train 560 youth in various projects.
Founded in 2011, SUGECO is championed by a group of forty founders, all undergraduate and postgraduate students, and academic staff from the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness (DAEA) at Sokoine University of Agriculture.
It aims to make a difference in the minds of the youth, communities and graduates towards enterprise development for self-employment, agribusiness development, job creation, community development and economic prosperity.
Earlier, Mavunde said SUGECO also supports and equips youth in biofortification and in other different agricultural value chains in primary production, processing, value addition and marketing.
A nutritionist, Jolenta Joseph, said already over 15 companies have been raised and supported by SUGECO via indoors and outdoors incubation for close monitoring and business coaching.
The move, he said, aimed at eradicating hunger among communities, and food processors develop new products that can be easily consumed as foods.
SUGECO is involved in vine multiplication and production of roots (OFSP) due to scarcity of the planting materials to meet the demand for its members and farmers so as to increase the production of roots. They are processing fleshed Sweet potatoes, Pro Vitamin A maize and High Iron and Zinc beans mainly integrating them in different products this include bread, bans, samosa, composite flour, juice etc.
“We have trained youth, women on health benefits of bio Fortified crops in reducing hidden hunger in our communities. So far we have trained 5112 farmers and they are fully engaged in value chain and trained over 180 food processors on OFSP processing and value addition, she said.
In partnership with other organizations, SUGECO has implemented the Nutritional Awareness and Cash Crop Value Chain Project (NACC), which worked directly with three thousand (3000) smallholder farmers in two districts of Kilosa and Gairo in Morogoro region.
The project focuses on promoting production and consumption of orange fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP), orange maize and beans as a solution to increased nutritional intake, while generating income for vulnerable groups living in rural and urban areas. Farmers are trained on good agricultural practices, nutritional knowledge, financial literacy, storage technologies and market linkages for OFSP and other farm produce.
Citing an example, she said that a total of 587 farmers were engaged in the production of orange-fleshed sweet potatoes (OFSP), while another group of 478 farmers was engaged in the production of pro-vitamin A maize.