In the field of agricultural development cooperation, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), growing attention and increasing budgets are being reserved to youth working in agribusiness, or young agripreneurs. These trending development strategies aim to commercialize agriculture and at the same time take youth out of unemployment.
An ethnographic analysis of a new development
This specific focus on youths is justified by the fact that in developing countries youths make up for an increasingly big share of their population, due to the skyrocketing demographic growth. Uganda has allegedly the youngest population in SSA and therefore (inter)national development agencies have enthusiastically embraced this development trend and started to implement development policies to tackle the ‘youth bulge’ – conceived as much as a ticking time bomb as a development opportunity to be unlocked. Seemingly, cookie-cutter solutions are promoted for different socio-economic contexts in Uganda, while the operationalization of development strategies in this field and their actual effectiveness remain fuzzy.
This study is an attempt to interpret and understand this new focus on youths in agribusiness in international development cooperation by analysing the very making of the development discourse, and the experience of youths as objects and subjects of development action. The focus is on production of knowledge structures attempting to shape the socio-economic realities of youths, and the actual embodied experiences of youths who are (supposedly) benefitting from development efforts targeting them.
I will illustrate some of the (preliminary) results of my ethnographic research in Uganda. Moreover, I will portray the theoretical framework and methods I have used – pointing at the problems I encountered in framing my study within one (post-modernist) theoretical paradigm. Finally, I would like to ask the audience to think with me about the best way of approaching the last field trip I will conduct in May.