Agripreneurship is a lucrative venture in Africa that is currently underutilized due to the limited knowledge that people have about it. The term Agripreneurship is not as common as it should be in African countries and as a result of this, fewer people know that it is the future of Africa and the world at large.
The COVID-19 pandemic which has brought the entire world to a standstill now pauses a big threat to the global food security and because of this, the Publicist East Africa has embarked on a journey to increase awareness about the benefits of engaging in Agripreneurship and how youth can strategically position themselves to make quick money from this sector.
What is Agripreneurship?
In simple terms, it entails agricultural entrepreneurship, and what it means for the future of agriculture in Africa.
Scholars at the Mandela Washington Fellowship contend that the future of business in Africa lies on the farm, hence agricultural entrepreneurship, which in essence is Agripreneurship.
Usman Ali Lawan, 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, was born to a farmer in a small village in northern Nigeria. Even after his family moved to town, his father wanted to take his son back to the farm, but his mother had other plans.
He recalls her saying; “I have just one son, and he’s got to go to school. He must have a degree.”
Today, the young businessman says his mother had a point and he is grateful to her.
But he still sees himself as that boy “who would always take his hoe and go till the soil immediately after the first raindrops.”
According to the United Nations, the number of people working in agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa has fallen by 5 percent since 2005, even while the total labor force rises region wide.
Thousands of young people are leaving family farms to work in the industry or service sectors, convinced that these are the kinds of jobs that will lead to greater prosperity on the continent.
Other young professionals, like Lawan, don’t see the same divide between growing crops and a growing career.
“For me, agricultural entrepreneurship, or what I call agribusiness, covers the entire value chain from the farm to the consumers’ plates,” he says.
Patrick Mugiraneza, another 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, lectures on agriculture and business at the University of Rwanda. He founded the Agriyouth Rwanda Initiative to develop the next generation of farmers.
“Most of his students don’t realize there are entrepreneurship opportunities available in agriculture, just like any other business venture. I show them that in agriculture you have an added value because it’s an unexplored sector, especially for young people,” Mugiraneza said.
“If they bring their creativity and energy, they are going to be more productive,” he added.
Mugiraneza notes that Agripreneurship involves Agricultural trade, packaging, marketing and communication that bridges the gap between farmer and consumer which are all areas ripe for enterprise.
According to him, if youths can manage to venture into processing, they are going to make more returns regardless of if you’re in Uganda, Nigeria, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania or Kenya.
He also sees a real need in the market for creativity from young people to use locally available materials and reduce the problem of post-harvest loss, a regular blow to potential profits.
“Let’s say you want to sell a live chicken in Nigeria,” says Lawan. The average price per bird is $2.50. But if the chicken is processed, packaged and sold to the market with the highest demand, the price for that same bird increases to between $5 and $7, that’s what value addition does for you.”
Lawan taught himself poultry farming after earning his degree in business administration. He combines these two areas of knowledge by training educated youth in agricultural skills and teaching rural farmers techniques to turn their farms into profitable businesses.
If young professionals and youth not only in Nigeria but also Uganda and other African countries would apply their knowledge of business to farming and uncover opportunities to increase productivity, he believes they could make as good a living as anybody wearing a suit.
Agricultural Commercialization Taking Over
Experts contend that there is increasing pressure on local farmers that are trying to commercialize their work without great success. Farmers need more production systems to increase their production line while at the same time urbanization and rapid growth population are not working on their benefit.
Modernization is complicating matters, even more, seeing as farming families in rural areas need to increase their production but are unable to, due to lack of larger production equipment.
The solution to the problem is entrepreneurship. Farmers need to become entrepreneurs and adopt an agripreneurship model that will help them create their local clusters and start increasing their production as a synergy and not as individual local farmers.
To achieve that, local farmers will need to create their value chains. Value chains are sets of connected stakeholders working together to add more value to their products.
Value chains help increase efficiency, productivity and competitiveness by linking the stakeholders, in this case, the farmers, to processors and markets.
Apart from creating value chains between them, agripreneurs also need to be able to focus their actions on the market and not just the production.
Many different systems can be used to approach the global market and depending on the clusters/value chain, agripreneurs need to find a system that is going to suit their activities the most.
Suppliers, warehouse managers, financial services and transport companies could be some of the most important collaborators/ additions to a value chain in the field of agripreneurship.
How to be an Agripreneur
Changing the way a local farmer thinks to increase production is not difficult. What is difficult is to adapt to is the mindset of an agripreneur.
There is an entire study behind agripreneurship and it focuses on understanding the role of the farmer entrepreneur in the new market, identifying all the potential clients of this new and innovative type of entrepreneurship, which is agripreneurship and of course defining the business idea behind the value chain.
In agripreneurship, the most important thing that stakeholders need to remember is that the agricultural business needs to have a much more enhanced commercial activity that involves trade and trading in every form, more than ever before.
The enterprise which in this case is the agricultural business or organization that provides goods or services aiming to make a profit needs to have a value capture.
That means that the enterprise needs to maintain the percentage of the value they provide in every single transaction. Entrepreneurship, after all, is all about high quality and value.
Marketing and Agriculture
Having understood the concept behind agripreneurship and agripreneurial products, we now move on to one very important action that was not common in regular agriculture; that is marketing. In a value chain, marketing that works the best is contractual marketing.
Contractual marketing is an approach in which companies that are in different levels of the value chain focus on working together to provide the best possible financial results and advantages than they could have on their own.
Contractual marketing gives stakeholders in the value chain the opportunity to work with enterprises that could help them increase their reach and acquire a more diverse clientele. Marketing is indeed a great way to start setting up a strong presence in the market.
For instance, Digital marketing helps in creating a strong digital footprint which is necessary these days. Enterprises of any kind, without at least a basic digital presence, will not be allowed to turn to agripreneurship and compete against massive farming corporations.
Innovation is a part of entrepreneurship and agripreneurship cannot fall behind.
Value chains work the best but without innovation, local farms will not be able to flourish.
As a young farmer, you need to try and find that one innovative spark that will fire up your business and make you an important stakeholder in the global agricultural market.