Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sexy Agriculture? The way to lure youths to agribusiness

 Some two years ago I got a chance to attend an agribusiness Fair courtesy of my AGEC/AGBM department and a mushroom project I was showcasing. The fair organized by  Universities, Business and Research in Agribusiness and Innovation fair(UniBRAIN) and Pan Africa Agribusiness and Agro-industry Consortium(PanAAC) sought to bring to fore the all issues encompassing agribusiness as far as the  agribusiness teaching methods,entrepreneurship ,SMEs developments and all that entails business incubations is concerned. Among the key speaker included Dr.Manu Chandaria, Dr. Assetou Yaye, Executive Director, ANAFE, Anke Weisheit, Innovator Indigenous Knowledge ,Mbarara University of Science & Technology, Amon Anderson, Acumen Fund and Associate Director, Mr. Gillad Millo(Amiran Kenya) among others.


  One particular presenter caught my attention and she is none other than Joan Mwangi Founder and Chair, FEWA  and winner of the Best SME in Kenya award 2009. She came swaying to the podium to talk about how to lure young people in to the agribusiness sector  and summed her talk on one word,sexy agriculture.


I am borrowing the same to strike a relation as to why youths shy away from agriculture/agribusiness. For most of them, a mention of agriculture/agribusiness rings such a bell in their minds.


Looking at the challenges in these twin sectors could shed light on the same.
First of all the system of our education seems to be a jail in itself, geered to producing  white collar jobs seekers and not blue jeans jobs creators and innovators. Most young people would rather  hoop from one office to another in search of an elusive  job instead of spending the time in thinking of business ventures they could start. Again, for those that succeed  in becoming entrepreneurs, agriculture/agribusiness never features anywhere in their business ideas. 

 So why is this so?

Despite agriculture being the backbone of our economy and contributing close to 21.4% of our GDP, it presents a myriad of challenges to these youths in form of:

  • Lack of access to credit facilities as the interest rates on loans(unsecured) are way too high.
  • Pathetic infrastructure as entails availability of irrigation facilities,storage,transportation and land acquisition means.
  • These challenges among others makes youths feel agriculture as such a drab thing.  And only when we give that youths a leeway to farm will we make them love and appreciate agriculture.


Want to make agriculture/agribusiness sexy to generation Y, bring in good infrastructure, affordable financing and effective policies on the same and we sure will be feeding the world!