Empowering of Youth as Agri-Entrepreneurs
Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture, Uva Wellassa University launched its community participatory extension programme of “Empowering of Youth as Agri-Entrepreneurs” on October 27, 2022 with the collaboration of the Smallholder Agri-business Partnership Programme (SAPP) and the participation of all stakeholders of the UWU-Integrated Community Development Project (UWU-ICDP) at Agrarian Services Center, Kumbalwela. UWU-ICDP aims to foster a steadfast relationship between Uva Wellassa University and Uva Agriculture Community to generate mutual benefits in a sustainable manner under the direction of Uva Agriculture Development Forum (UADF). The event was participated by some identified 22 Agri-farming youths representing Kumbalwela and Halpe Agricultural Instructors’ Divisions, 12 UWU-ICDP Academic staff members of the Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture, Uva Wellassa University, officials of SAPP and over 12 officials of Uva Province-based agricultural services providing public organizations representing officers from Deputy Director Agriculture office of Badulla, Assistant Director Office of Agriculture (ADA) at Bandarawella, Uva Provincial Inservice Training Institute and Beekeeping Development Unit at Bidunuwawa, Regional Agricultural Research Center at Kahagolla, Divisional Agrarian Development Center, Kumbalwela and Demo Fertilizer Pvt. Ltd. extended special technical assistance.
Dr. Lalith Amarathunga, Coordinator-UWU-ICDP, welcomed the gathering at the inauguration ceremony and highlighted the importance of capacity building of the youth group to develop their soft skills for the start up the agribusiness. He also emphasized the key driver of SAPP programme that is “Public-Private-Producer Partnerships” value change model which brings public and private sectors to collectively develop common platform for empowering the smallholder farmer as a youth Agri-Entrepreneurs. Addressing the gathering, Prof. Saman K. Herath, Dean, Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture gave an overview to the UWU-Integrated Community Development Project. He pointed out the expectations of Uva Wellassa University to provide its services to the farming community, specially the university contribution on capacity building of entrepreneurial and value addition process in Uva Province. Uva Agriculture Development Forum has been established to achieve such objectives by the Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture. Mrs. Renuka, Deputy Director representing Department of Agriculture, Badulla District highlighted the importance of empowerment of youth with new agricultural technologies and making aware about the on-going programmes conducted by Department of Agriculture towards the empowerment of Agri-community in Uva Province. She also appreciated the importance of working collectively for serving to the agricultural community of Uva Province. Mrs. Nilmini Renuka, Divisional Agrarian Development officer representing Agrarian Service Department appreciated the UWU-ICDP approach to keep on interest of youth retaining them in the agriculture sector by empowering as entrepreneurs. Mr. Anil Jaywardhana, Regional Programme Coordinator, SAPP, Badulla presented the role and activities of the Smallholder Agri-business Partnership Programme and also appreciated UWU-ICDP unique approach of integrating all relevant Agri-service institutions to provide collective services to Agri-farming Community in Uva Province. He also ensured to facilitate the fullest cooperation of SAPP for the UWU-ICDP youth empowering programme. All youth group members were given opportunities to express about their future plan to start up as Agri-entrepreneurs.
Commencing the technical session, Miss Chamali Amarakoon, Probationary Lecturer, Uva Wellassa University delivered the presentation on the profile of youth group sample (22 respondents). Mr. Anil Jaywardhana, Regional Programme Coordinator, SAPP, elaborated that SAPP programme aims to facilitate rural smallholder farmers in term of building the commercial partnership, providing access to finance, improving technical know-how and financial literacy, introducing mechanization to agriculture and sustainable agricultural practices. He also explained the prerequisites to be fulfilled by youth entrepreneur to get the SAPP technical and financial assistance and benefits, selection criteria and methodologies. He aimed to provide such facilities for empowering 100 youth entrepreneurs within the UWU-ICDP Model village. Mr. Indika Sugath, Research and Development Executive explained that how best the private sector provides facilities to youth entrepreneurs to start up their agribusiness. Further, he made a presentation on supply chain of Demo Agri-products on the doorstep of farming community.
With the representation of officials of Academia of Uva Wellassa University, officials of Uva Province-based agricultural services providing public and private organizations, and SAPP, an open discussion was commenced and Dr Prasad Mahindarathna, Senior Lecturer chaired the session. He highlighted the significance of the collective efforts of all partners to develop their agribusiness towards a common goal of uplifting the stallholder youth farming communities economically and socially. The discussion panel gave opportunities to the youth group to explain their views on proposed agribusiness plans, required assistances and currently faced limitations for developing as an agribusiness. In responding, each youth members explained their proposed future business plans and required financial and technical assistances to start up agribusinesses such as technical knowledge and practical knowhow, financial and Agribusiness literacy, requirement of networking of related supply and value change, food preservation and safety handling, exploring market avenues etc. They also highlighted the interesting areas to be continued as Agri-businesses such as mushroom cultivation and processing, nursery management for producing planting materials for vegetable, fruits, floriculture, export-oriented crops, food preservation, packing and value addition, bee keeping and dairy and product development etc.
At the end of the panel discussion, all officials agreed to provide needful technical assistance and other servicers for capacity building of youth smallholder farming group. Dr. Lalith Amarathunga proposed to have an action plan and time frame for organizing and implementing the required capacity building training programms and other related activities for empowering the identified youth group of UWU-ICDP and SAPP collaborative programme. Accordingly, Mr. Anil Jayawardhana and his team agreed to conduct a baseline survey and field assessments within one month time period as per the SAPP criteria with the collaboration of Agriculture Instructors, Development Officers and Kupanisa Officers attached to Agrarian Service Center Kumbalwela to identify the potential youth members and their capacities to start up agribusinesses under SAPP. All officials agreed to develop an action plan with the time frame after reviewing progress of the SAPP baseline survey and field assessment for the implementation of proposed youth empowering activities and also to facilitate technical assistance and services at organizational level towards the success of the event.
Banner on Model Village Concept and Youth Empowering SAP Programme
Youth Farmers’ arrivals and registration for the programme
Ceremonial opening of “Empowering of Youth as Agri-Entrepreneurs ”
Ceremonial opening of “Empowering of Youth as Agri-Entrepreneurs ” remarking tradition of oil lamping by the Chief Guests of the event DEAN of FASEA, Head of EA, SAPP Program Coordinator/ Badulla, Head of Representative of Department of Agriculture and Agrarian Service Department, Demo Fertilizer Pvt. Ltd and Youth Group
Welcome address by UWU-ICDP Coordinator, Addressing Chief Guests – Dean of Faculty of Animal Science and Export Agriculture, Deputy Director -Badulla, Agriculture Divisional Officer, Agrarian Service Center, Kumbalwela, District Program Coordinator/SAAP