Commercial sugarcane farming in eastern Uganda: the answer to vulnerable youth?
The desire for commercial farming is underlined by economic linkages such as employment and income but oftentimes, commercial farming seldom generates expected benefits to the local population. This paper extends debates of skewed implications of commercial farming using a case of sugarcane farming in Eastern Uganda to investigate whether commercial farming can be a solution to youth socio-economic and livelihood vulnerabilities. Data was collected using structured questionnaires, thematic interview guides and focus group discussions. Our findings show a suboptimal impact of sugarcane farming on youth livelihoods. The authors argue that while sugarcane farming offers positive socio-economic linkages, it is inadequate to solve youth vulnerabilities of unemployment and low incomes because of meagre earnings from poor sugarcane jobs. We contend that commercial farming as a youth-based intervention should be matched with mechanisms that address structural traps such as difficult working conditions and poor remuneration embedded in large-scale farming.
Key words: Youths, Livelihoods, sugarcane farming, vulnerability.