Can Youth in entrepreneurship be a tool for Agricultural Transformation in Africa?

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This is a question which received an answer by an initiative conceptualization workshop organized by a youth group called ‘IITA Youth Agripreneurs (IYA)’ on the ‘ Engagement of Youth Entrepreneurship for Agricultural Transformation in Africa’  which was supported by AGRA (Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa), SARD-SC (Support to Agricultural Research for Development of Strategic Crops in Africa). One of the resource persons – Dr. Namanga Ngongi who is a member of the IITA Board of Trustees, gave a keynote address.

In his keynote address, he specifically gave an example of his experience on one of his trips to an African country, telling that he had an encounter with an Agripreneur selling crickets (packaged and branded). He further underscored the fact that; if an employment and wealth could be created by packaging mere insect and selling as an agribusiness, then everything in agriculture should be taken as a business. For more video information on this, click here.

Drawing conclusion to this, the participants broke out into sessions to brainstorm and find the causes of lack of engagement  of youths in agribusiness. Below are the outcomes of the group I participated in which had 28 participants.

My group was to find out sub-causes on non-existence of a network of well educated and motivated young entrepreneurs around rural agribusiness service cluster (hubs) that attract private sector investor for long term sustainable development.

My group findings were that:

  1. There is lack of strategic alliances and partnership at local, regional, national and continental level that have established channels of communication that can help disseminate information to the youth on the economic benefits of employment in the agricultural sector.
  2. While agriculture gain from adequate technical training form different initiatives, there is a need for business and communication skills, value chain development and capacity building training that allows independent farmers and youth to form alliances and lobby for funding from interested organizations.
  3. There is limited number of functional and dynamic youth groups engaging in agriculture, particularly in rural areas.
  4. There is no effective, gender sensitive, national strategy that links existing youth agric-organizations to agricultural financing agencies.
  5. There is no established government or private sector platforms that facilitate linkages between academic institutes (agriculture graduates) and existing agric-business to create a dynamic job market with a balance of supply and demand.
  6. No academic curricula and youth engagement initiatives do not provide for a mentored environment for youth to gain practical entrepreneurial experience.

During our brainstorming sessions, I ultimately noted the fact that without access or proper access to communication technologies platform for the rural youth e.g internet access that may enable information dissemination from the agricultural sector, there would be a crawl in the improvement of network of well educated and motivated young entrepreneurs around agribusiness service clusters (hubs) that attract private sector investors for long term sustainable development.

Follow the events on the #YADI14 event using the hashtag on Twitter and Facebook to get proffered solutions on these challenges.

Blogpost by Johnbosco Ezemenaka, IYA member and a social media reporter for the #YADI14

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