Agro-BIG News

Training landless youth brings multiple benefits


How to address unemployment issues of landless youth and at the same time tackle problems of onion and potato value chains?
One potential solution: give the youth training on critical agricultural topics and business management so that they can act as private service providers for their local farmers.
This novel approach, now implemented in Agro-BIG, has so far resulted in the successful training of 98 unemployed youth, of which 15 are female, in Fogera and Mecha woredas.

What topics are the landless youth trained on?

The first step has been to identify current issues that are concerns for farmers in the programme area.
One of the most pressing challenges is the haphazard and hazardous use of agrochemicals.
Without any proper protection and disposal mechanisms, farmers are increasingly applying these chemicals to tackle insects, pests and weeds.
Most farmers don’t use the right doze nor do they apply the right chemical for the right pest or disease at the right time. Instead of basing their application rates on experts’ advice, farmers usually follow their own judgment and only in rare cases pay an experienced farmer to do the spraying.
On the other hand, they are dependent on the information given by the agro-dealers who sometimes care more about making business than selling the right dose and mix of chemicals.
All this may have less effect on disease and pests but a damaging impact on the environment, humans and animals.
Another challenge in the programme area is the proper use of water pumps and maintenance of irrigation facilities.
In Fogera farmers use motorized water pumps to irrigate their onion fields. In Mecha, on the other hand, the Koga irrigation project covers 7,000 ha of land targeting smallholder farmers.
Maintenance of water pumps and irrigation canals is essential. At the moment, however, farmers do not have any access to proper services in this matter.

Gaining multiple benefits

In cooperation with Bahir Dar Polytechnic college, WoTVED (Woreda Office of Technical and Vocational Education and Training) and Bureau of Agriculture, skill trainings have been delivered about the aforementioned topics to landless youth.
These youth are 10th grade completed students who after the trainings have been organized in the form of share companies. Until now, work premises have been secured for the companies and the construction of their shops and service points is well underway.
The agrochemical sprayers have already started the provision of services to farmers in pest surveillance and spraying.
With this approach Agro-BIG is not only helping to establish private service provision at the local level, but also supporting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and assisting landless youth who often are disadvantaged in their local communities.

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