By Alkali Amana
Recognizing the essence of farmers to a nation, Thomas Jefferson, the 3rd President of the United States of America, once declared that:
“Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous, and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands”.
The words above draw attention to the need for a nation to recognize the need to develop and sustain agricultural practices and businesses by empowering its citizens who venture into the industry, more so through its youths. Africa boasts significant untapped agricultural potential, and now more than ever the sector calls for more input from a continent with an ever-growing youth population. Statistics reveal that while the African continent accounts for 60 percent of the world’s arable land, it only contributes 4 percent of total agricultural output. This shows the need for more input of human resources and power alongside technology into a sector that offers so much yet is given little. The continent’s population is expected to be double its current status by 2050 and the need for high rate agricultural production will only increase as the years drive-by; thereby presenting an opportunity to solve the challenge of unemployment to a promising level among youths, should they actively seek to explore the sector. Slowly, elementary interest in agriculture is growing among Africa’s youths, and inspiring stories fly from young people participating in agribusiness across the continent, enough to spur the interest of a young mind towards considering a potential venture into the sector. The herald of such thought comes with a lot of possibilities, hence the importance of streamlining ventures which one can consider as agribusiness opportunities to venture in.
- Providing Farm Consultancy and Advisory Services
There is immense opportunity inherent in providing consultancy and advisory services to farmers within the African continent as most farmers need help in the area of organizing and planning their business to achieve optimal results upon harvest and delivery. A key part of agricultural consultancy is research and the responsibilities of a consultant in this area relate to providing insight on technical and business matters in areas such as accessing markets, understanding crop seasons, Nutrition, Waste management etc. A consultancy business in agriculture in the 21st century will also entail the provision of digital solutions with which to help a client maximize the benefit of the global village we find ourselves in. An industry expert in an exposition with the theme ‘Agribusiness Opportunities for African Youth’ featured on www.afap-partnership.org, notes that consultancy services for Farmer Based Organizations include the use of mobile applications for agriculture calendar, rain patterns etc. Other possibilities attached to offering consultancy services include the provision of the forecast for fertilizer, seeds and crops, advice on improving farm sanitation etc.
- Livestock Farming
Livestock farming as an opportunity presents a variety of options to key into as it enables the rearing and breeding of edible animals for meat and other purposes. Keying into this opportunity, one can begin with owning a modern abattoir able to cater for the meat needs of a surrounding population or work through the production of milk, yoghurt, cheese, hide and skin etc. Beyond terrestrial animals, aquatic farming in the sense of owning ponds to rear fishes such as catfish can prove to be viable outlets to take on in the agribusiness sector. Discussing fish farming opportunities Mbazu Chibuzor, in an article on www.agro4africa.com, explained that aquaculture and small-scale fisheries offer specific opportunities to grow Africa’s rural economy and reduce hunger and poverty. It must then be recognized that beyond personal profits, agribusiness helps to grow the African terrain, especially the economy of its rural areas.
- Business Listing Agribusinesses
Listing African farmers and the products they sell while providing and offering services that connect them with potential customers and consumers is a digital solution yet to be fully explored by individuals and businesses on the continent. The implication attached to this business opportunity lies in the ability to host agribusinesses on a central database and create access to a wider market using digital means to connect with buyers. Exploring this feature in a continent where the power of the internet is only growing every day can prove to be an important investment to undertake and revolutionize the agribusiness sector in Africa.
- Sale and Maintenance of Farming Equipment
As long as agriculture is needed, the existence of tools with which to carry out its practices will remain, and it is an opportunity to key into by providing farming equipment via sale and maintenance to farmers. An instance of a successful African youth who has tapped into this viable area of agribusiness is the African Leadership Magazine Disruptor of the Year Awardee, Kamal Yakub, who co-founded TROTRO Tractor, a company that connects smallholder farmers to agricultural mechanization using technology. This innovation has sometimes been called ‘Uber for Tractors’ and it has proved its worth in providing tools with farmers can expand and sustain effective practices in their business without having to worry much about heavy cost implications of getting or gaining access to important mechanization machines such as the Tractor.
Venturing into this area of agribusiness will enable African youths to grow and create a niche with which to help the continent grow in its ability to provide immense value and reap benefits from its land.
The job cannot entirely be left to African youths in the quest for the provision of viable employment alternatives to white-collar office jobs, hence it is necessary that African governments step into the fray to help achieve these objectives and ventures. One important area Africa needs to improve on is the creation of an enabling environment for businesses and ventures with which they can thrive and sustain themselves, and there is no better way to this than to provide grants, government aid and consultancy support etc. within a country or nation. Agricultural agencies on their part can step in to reward and encourage youth ventures in their respective countries. The role of agencies also extends to the orientation involved to get youths on track to receive the agribusiness idea, and certainly, achieving this will set the continent up for success towards food liberation and the sufficient use of its agricultural potentials.