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The Youth Entrepreneurship Program trains Ugandan youth on the many facets of agricultural entrepreneurship. Gaining practical skills in crop and livestock management, marketing and leadership, participants grow towards self-reliance and an enterprising adulthood.
David Mwami and Edwin Wakiita have a lot in common. Their fathers passed away when the boys were young. Both were raised in female-led households dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods, and both attended Namasagali Primary School. It was there, when the boys were in the fourth grade, that the ISU-UP school garden program was first introduced in 2006. As Wakiita describes it, he and his fellow students were taught how to raise different types of vegetables and also received seedlings to plant and raise at home. At the time, recalls Mwami, “I thought garden work was punishment and that school land was for teachers to grow their own crops.” He soon came to a different understanding about the potential of agriculture, and the boys’ involvement with gardening continued until their graduation from Namasagali Primary School in seventh grade. By that time, Wakiita was able to use the proceeds from his homegarden to pay his school fees, and Mwami served that year as the school’s Agriculture Prefect, or student leader.
They proceeded in 2010 to Namasagali College Secondary School, where Mwami became leader of the Youth Entrepreneurship Program when it was launched in 2013. After their secondary school graduation, Mwami and Wakiita enrolled in the Arapai Agriculture College of Busitema University, where they are on track to graduate next May with diplomas in Crop Science and Management. This past summer, their agricultural education came full circle: While serving as Industrial Training interns at several farms in the Kamuli District as part of their college coursework, Mwami and Wakiita helped supervise service learning students from ISU and Makerere University (MAK). “My negative perception about gardening started changing when the ISU and MAK students introduced practical agricultural skills at the Namasagali Primary School,” says Mwami. “I can now teach proper agronomic practices to others, and I plan to implement what I learn in college to sustain myself.” Wakiita echoes these sentiments. “I appreciate Iowa State University and all those who helped me continue my higher education,” he says. “With the skills I have gained in college and through my internship, I look forward to becoming an extension worker in a government or non-governmental organization.”
Looking back, what took root in Mwami and Wakiita all those years ago were the seeds of a better future, and an enduring commitment to agriculture, community knowledge and self-sufficiency.
Pictured: David Mwami (left) and Edwin Wakiita (right)
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