‘Prioritize Agriculture; Gen. Salim Saleh advises students’

As the number of unemployed graduates increases year by year, Makerere University Business School found it befitting to invite the presidential advisor on security, and Chairman Operation Wealth Creation Gen. Salim Saleh to address the graduating class of 2015 under the theme ‘creating employment and wealth through agriculture as a business.

At every graduation ceremonies, the School identifies a theme which they invite a speaker to address the students about. In his address Gen. Saleh appealed to Universities to practically train students before sending them to the field. He called upon Universities and Institutions of Higher learning to put emphasis on agriculture. Saleh said the agricultural sector can employ many more youths than any other in the country.

Gen Salim Saleh together with the MUBS Principal , Prof. Waswa Balunywa
Gen Salim Saleh together with the MUBS Principal , Prof. Waswa Balunywa

He advised education institutions to start training students with relevant practical skills needed for the current job market to overcome graduate unemployment. He wondered why agriculture which can create a number of jobs for Ugandans is not prioritized as a subject at lower educational levels.

“How do you expect graduates to take on agriculture when you have not skilled them, agriculture is not a key subject at Primary level and it is not compulsory at secondary level; so how can one get interested after graduating? I have no kind words for Uganda’s education system”, he said. He expressed difficulties in addressing the graduates on joining agriculture as a profession. He said the business school students like many others in the country had no agricultural training and he did not expect them to take interest in agriculture which they do not understand.

Saleh decried the educational system calling for a review. He noted that as an agricultural country, he was surprised that agriculture was not taught in schools and children who lived in rural areas completed their studies without any formal knowledge in agriculture. “You therefore will not expect these young people to know anything about farming later on have an interest in agriculture as a profession”, He suggested that young people should be taken to university and given a three months training to prepare them for agriculture as a profession.

Gen. Saleh noted that many of today’s graduates cannot go to villages to practice agriculture. “Make agriculture attractive so that they can practice it”. It is not possible to convince the young people to go agriculture if they are not trained yet it can create over 2000 jobs annually.

The former Ugandan Minister of State for Micro finance advised fresh graduates to invest in his agricultural model so that he makes money for them because majority look at farming as a dirty venture and lack skills. “I have not heard of a student graduating with a certificate related to agriculture or tractor maintenance at this graduation, so how do you expect me to turn these graduates into agriculturalists, the best idea is for them to invest in me so that I make money for them”, he pointed out.

He noted that many of the graduates do not own land and the parents who have the land don’t want to give it out to their sons and daughters when they are still alive”. He also said there is lack of inputs and technologies for agro processing.

He also blamed the financial institutions that are selective on funding agricultural projects. “When financial institutions look at agriculture as the riskiest venture, how do you expect these graduates to get funds for start up?”The General pointed out that if agriculture is prioritized, the sector can create many jobs for Ugandans.

He has helped farmers in Luweero to start different projects and currently he is running a farm where he has grown 800 acres of maize. He has passion for knowledge and would like to see rural transformation in the country.

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