Marshal Papworth, a UK based agriculture-education charity, is helping to close the African agricultural skills gap and combat youth unemployment, by providing students from developing countries with scholarship placements at leading agricultural and horticultural education institutions in the UK.
This year, one Marshal Papworth graduate alone has used the skills and knowledge acquired through his placement to train 1,079 15-24 year olds in the business of agriculture; of which 65% are now employed in crop production.
Africa’s population is increasingly youthful – half of the population is under 25 – however 72% are either unemployed or vulnerable. As one of the continent’s most critical industries, contributing a quarter of Africa’s total GDP, agriculture provides huge potential for employment, but in order to develop, the industry needs greater access to knowledge, skills, education and land.
Apangu Godfrey Philliam was awarded a scholarship by Marshal Papworth to study an MSc in Food and Water Security at Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK, in 2015-2016. Upon his return home, Godfrey re-joined his former employer The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA) CLUSA International to implement a project that focused on youth empowerment through agriculture in Kole District, Northern Uganda. The project was developed to address the high rate of youth unemployment, especially school drop-outs, which has caused a number of secondary issues including high child marriages, food and nutritional insecurity, and a high rate of sexually transmitted infections.
Godfrey commented: “My course at Aberystwyth University provided me with valuable knowledge and skills, which I have been able to share with my home community. Leadership and governance, and the ability to mobilise resources, were a key focus of the Youth Entrepreneurship project and, as a result of my training, a number of youths have taken up leadership positions in their communities. One of my students, Abaylo Harriet has been elected Youth Female Councillor for the sub-county of Ayer, to represent the views and ideas of female youths in the community.”
“Another key topic of the project was agri-business and I taught individuals important skills in agro-entrepreneurship. I also helped them to develop their ability to identify different business opportunities in the value chains of maize, beans, soy beans, cassava, and red pepper, as well as animals such as goats, cattle, pigs, and poultry. Over 700 of the people involved in the project are now engaged in the production of different crops for business purposes and others are involved in the produce business – for example the buying and selling of seeds and grains.”
In June 2017, Godfrey went on to support AgriTechTalk Uganda with its Drought and Flood Mitigation Service project, and has successfully trained 75 farmers in farm record keeping; helping them to effectively respond to climate change effects, and improve their forecasting and disaster preparedness.
Godfrey summarised his experiences: “The completion of my course at Aberystwyth University has had a large impact on my own life, the community I work with, as well as Uganda as a country. I am grateful to Marshal Papworth for giving me the opportunity to realise my full potential. I am now enrolled on a PHD course studying fungal spores at the University of Worcester and with this qualification I hope to contribute to research in reducing food and nutritional insecurity that are prevalent across many parts of Africa.”