Kenyans, Rwandans and Ugandans: Blog to Win a Trip to Washington, DC

Deadline: December 02, 2016-January 15, 2017 | Online

Agriculture is the backbone of the East African regional economy, as it accounts for about 32% of the region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Growth in the agriculture sector helps raise incomes, create employment opportunities, reduces poverty, and accounts for about 70% of employment opportunities in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. Despite being a field vibrant with innovations driven by young people, those engaged in agriculture are typically elderly, and the number of youth with jobs in agriculture continues to drop. Why are young people shying away from agriculture? How can agriculture be made ‘cool’ for the youth? It’s your turn to have your say. Tell us, in no more than 500 words, what you see as opportunities for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business.


Now in its third year, the #Blog4Dev Contest is an ideas-sharing platform for youth in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. This year, the World Bank wants you to share your thoughts on youth and agriculture.

For a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. in April 2017, discuss the following question in an original blog of no more than 500 words:

To farm or not to farm: What opportunities exist for youth to prosper in agriculture and agro-business?

Submit the blog post in English by January 15, 2017 here:


Must be a Kenyan, Rwandan or Ugandan citizen residing in your home country, and be aged between 18 and 28, and the blog post must be written in English.

Selecting Criteria:

A panel of judges made up of World Bank staff in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will review the submissions to determine the winning entries.

The winning submissions will be selected on the basis of the following criteria:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Clarity
  • Practicality
  • Potential for scale-up


New Publication: Top 19 Young Innovators and Entrepreneurs from Uganda

5RUFORUM recognizes the need for greater youth participation in enterprise development and business incubation and through its member universities and partners has supported training and skills development in this respect. It has also supported start-ups through innovative financing mechanism of the revolving fund implemented in some member universities. RUFORUM believes in youth entrepreneurship as the game changer in ensuring greater youth participation and integration into the economic growth at national and regional levels and for youth employment. We bring you a new publication focusing on the top 19 Innovators and Entrepreneurs from Uganda. Click here to download.

Uganda: Cassava Disease Threatens Food Security

KOLE/APAC- Researchers have warned of a serious threat posed by cassava brown streak disease (CBSD), saying it could cause food insecurity in Lango.

The worst hit areas are Chegere Sub-county in Apac District and Bala Sub-county in Kole District, where nearly 100 per cent of residents are farmers. Many famers interviewed by this newspaper do not know the origin of this disease.

Dr Settumba Mukasa, the principle investigator with Cassava Community Action Research Project (cassava CARP) at Makerere University, told Daily Monitor that more than 500 farmers in the affected areas had reported “challenges of rotting tuberous roots.”

He said the farmers were feeling the pain because the disease is now infecting their local variety known as bao previously believed to be immune to the disease.

“So the only solution is to destroy all the affected plants, look out for clean planting materials from reliable sources,” Dr Mukasa said.

Ms Lillian Mercy Apio of Women of Uganda Network confirmed that many women in Bala have resorted to maize flour as a source of food for their families.

Ms Sarah Okello, 34, a cassava farmer in Bala, has for 15 years relied on cassava as a cash crop but her dreams of becoming a commercial farmer have been dashed by the disease.

Ms Okello had two gardens of cassava but most of the tubers have rotted after they were hit by the disease. She is at a loss as to how she will continue feeding and educating her three children.

Since the outbreak of the disease, cassava CARP has established five mother gardens: three in Lango and two in Teso to provide cassava farmers with clean planting materials.

This story has been reproduced from

Gulu University Farmer Call Centre: Reaching out in real time to Smallholder Farmers in Northern Uganda

By Okidi Lawrence[1] and Basil Mugonola

Mr. Lawrence Okidi

Mr. Lawrence Okidi

Gulu University is committed to facilitating community transformation at national and regional levels through its academic programmes. The Masters programmes in MSc. Food Security and Community Nutrition and MSc. Agri-Enterprises development are some of the unique programmes at the University that have a community attachment and engagement model through which students are attached to communities for experiential learning. The university has so far implemented this model for the last three years during which the students have been working with smallholder farmers to address on-farm challenges.

One of the needs the farmers identified was the demand for real time information. In response to filling this gap, Gulu University with funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and in Partnership with INSEAD Business Campus (Singapore) and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) supported the establishment of the Farmer Call Centre (


The call centre application is part of TOTOGEO dashboard developed by specialist content developers at INSEAD led by Prof Philip Parker and a proof of concept pilot tested at Gulu University with undergraduate students in 2014 under the supervision of Dr. Basil Mugonola. The call centre APP has both online and offline versions. The offline version is an android phone enabled APP used by students while in the field to give necessary advisory services to the farmers while the online version housed at the call centre office is directly contacted by farmers through a mobile number (+256771318098) in which they are able to be assisted by an operator in their local dialect.

The Farmer Call Centre provides information on climate and weather, soil, diseases on crops and plants, livestock and aquaculture (plant and animal doctor), data services and prices. Price and disease information has been the most sought after. The application is able to provide price information for up to 38 specific items as it pertains in different market locations in Uganda. Dr. Basil Mugonola is the PI of the TOTOGEO dashboard including the call Centre but the day to day operation is by the Masters students working closely with undergraduate students.


The TOTOGEO dashboard is also relevant to academicians and other researchers, students and the business community in providing data and other timely relevant information. Through the call Centre initiative, we have been able reach out in real time and offer advisory services to between 30-50 farmers per month. The RUFORM funding has also facilitated my Masters study and further facilitated continued delivery of services to the farming community in northern Uganda. Gulu University Call Centre has potential to service the farmers in Uganda and the region as it further continues to be developed. You are encouraged to access the relevant information from the call centre through the website and may call the centre on the above number provided.


Am grateful to RUFORUM for funding through the Graduate Research Grant (GRG) and the Institutional Strengthening Grant (ISG) provided to Gulu University that has supported community engagement and my graduate study. I also extend my gratitude to Dr. Duncan Ogeng, Dean Faculty of Agriculture and my MSc. Supervisor, the BMGF, INSEAD business school, Prof Philip Parker and Dr Basil Mugonola (PI TOTOGEO Dashboard initiatives and head department of Rural Development and Agribusiness at Gulu University).

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[1] Mr. Okidi Lawrence is a Master of Science in Food Security and Community Nutrition student at Gulu University. He is currently in his second year of studies.