“Romance without Finance has no chance” This quote from Rodger Frank founder of innovara captured the mood and theme of the SNV Partners day event. To me the quote explains why young people have shunned away from agriculture. From the era of our grandparents, agriculture in Africa was considered what Dr. Akinwumi Adesina calls a social sector. It was only good for keeping the family going as children were encouraged to go to school work hard get job probably in the City in order to save the family from poverty. This thinking contributed greatly to the state of affairs in the Agriculture sector.
Young people including myself deserve a better life hence the fear of engaging in what has been termed non productive social sector -Agriculture , we have to make money to sustain a family otherwise we are condemned to eternal agony of poverty. Therefore, for young people to be attracted into Agriculture we have to be deliberate in creating a conducive and attractive environment. This has to be done by young visionaries, getting the information right and taking it to the critical mass.
From the event these are the issues I picked that I think have hampered development of successful agribusiness
Lack of Adequate Financial Education
Listening to different speakers and discussions I have no doubt lack of education on financial services available has for a long time crippled. Take for instance the existence of insurance facility that is there to shield farmers from crop failure caused by Natural disasters! Imagine of the creative and innovative equipment leasing model by innovara that would enable a farmer get better machines that would make their operations easier. Just imagine of different important mobile applications that would enable farmers detects pests like armyworm which could completely destroy your crops but then they have no clue of the existence of such. This in itself is a terrible tragedy.
If at all this information was available to the farmers and then it was neglected that would be a different story. It is then imperative we seize the opportunity to take this information to the farmers. This is an opportunity for Networks like AgriProFocus to offer value to members by ensuring different platforms are created for such critical financial information to be passed to farmers. In turn this would increase demand for product and services offered by members hence more business in the Agriculture value chain.
Aggregation of different Innovations and Technologies.
One other important issue that was raised by a partner in the SNV partners Day is the fact that there are so many technologies especially on mobile Applications. This application have different uses but are in most cases required by one farmer in order to increase productivity. This then calls for strategic collaboration and partnership among the application developers to bring all this to one platform to enable easy access.
I believe that for Africa to build a massive wall of food security, Young people must be enjoined in developing the agriculture sector. We must deliberately go out and explain the great opportunities that exist for young people to benefit financially from agriculture sector and its value chain.
We must find innovative ways of getting young people to get interested in Agriculture. One of this ways is by encouraging a very invigorating conversation of the best opportunities available. This means we have to drastically transform our communication models when it comes to seeking to engage youths in Africa.
Building Commercial Villages
From my understanding after interacting with a number of farmers, coupled with the thoughts shared by Rodger Frank of Innovara at the SNV partners Day event ,I believe there is need for innovators to move from ivory towers in cities to take their valuable innovative technologies and applications to the villages where they would be put into use. This way we would manage to increase productivity hence an assurance of Food security.
It is evident, only if we are able to build functional farmer organisations that we could manage to transform rural areas from Zones of economic misery to Zones of economic prosperity. We have to resolve to go get them in their villages by virtual communication through social media, through word of mouth in farmers field days and through local conferences in counties. This is a humongous investment but significant one.