A holistic review of agribusiness value chain reveals many aspects of the sector that can generate employment for the youth hence, it is critical to evolve programmes that can direct youth attention to agribusiness and empower them to take advantage of the opportunities.
Ms Mary Njeri, Unibrain business partnership and community officer (FARA) said that through the organisation’s research activities, some gaps in generating youth interest has been identified and FARA is working with the youth to address this challenges to enable them tap into opportunities in the agribusiness value chain.
Speaking in an interview with journalists after a press briefing session on the 7TH African Agricultural Science Week and FARA General Assembly taking place between June 13 – 16, 2016 in Kigali Rwanda, Ms Njeri said:
“We realized that one of the biggest challenges with the youth is access to factors of production. They complain about lack of access to land and credit so when we look at the value chain, we say, they must not just play at the production level, they must play at the other fields in the value chain”.
She explained that some critical factors can empower the youth to participate in agribusiness among which is the ability to identify an opportunity and where the return on investment can be optimized to translate it into a business opportunity
Further, Ms Njeri mentioned technologies and innovations that are coming up and how it can be turned around into job creation.
“That is where we go into agro-processing and other innovative products around agribusiness that can create employment for the youth without marginalizing areas like ICT and the others”.
Another critical factor discussed was how responsive African educational systems are to the agriculture industry needs. In regard to this, African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN) has had various curricular reviewed to speak to the needs of the industry.
“These curricular span from Certificate, Bachelors, Masters and Phd level Programmes. Now, we have graduates that are coming out of learning institutions who can address the issues of the industry and fit in well as opposed to before when the educational system was not aligned to the needs of the industry” Ms. Njeri stressed.
Touching on the issue of access to market, Ms. Njeri said FARA was also working on the to creation of a platform for networking for market access. Conferences have been organized to help the youth and other agribusiness actors to get a platform from where they can access market, know what market needs are available and be able to participate in a way that they address issues that are emerging from the market”.
She added that to address the age old problem of finance, AAIN has introduced an agribusiness incubation fund that would address such.
“This is one of the critical challenges within the agribusiness sector. Therefore, when you have access to finance it means you will be able to create a lot of job opportunities for the youth because 80% of unemployed are the youth and young people” she noted.
Ms Njeri said FARA has a major focus on exploring opportunities for youth engagement and are in discussions with youth organizations to get them interested in agriculture and agribusiness.
She explained that the African Agribusiness Incubation Network (AAIN), a subsidiary of the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA) on Agribusiness is engaging youth organizations to see how they can be attracted into agribusiness. This also is to ensure that the youth are part of the decision making organs within the agribusiness sector.
“We want their voices and views there to draw them out and encourage them to be part of the decision making organs in the agribusiness sector”, she stressed.