Providing drone-based services – a business idea for young agripreneurs. Photo: Nicole Melancon, www.thirdeyemom.com

16.06.2017

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E-agriculture services are an important factor in unlocking the potential of agribusiness in Africa. And they offer huge opportunities for involving young people in the agricultural sector. CTA has developed numerous formats for engaging youth leveraging on digital technologies. Here, one focus is on promoting entrepreneurship.

October 2013, in Kigali, Rwanda. David and Gerald, two young people from Uganda, have just won a software competition organised by the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) with their agricultural finance management application Ensibuuko (now called MOBIS). April 2017, four years later, in Malawi and Zambia. With great anticipation, the two friends have launched a franchise service of MOBIS in the capital of Lilongwe. Thousands of farmers have already been benefiting from MOBIS’s services in Uganda through agricultural co-operatives. Now Ensibuuko is an established business with several employees and generates revenues daily. The entrepreneurs are dreaming of scaling up throughout Africa, improving access to finance and increasing income for millions of farmers …

This brief story illustrates part of the CTA vision regarding the multilevel benefits that can blossom from involving young people (aged up to 35 years) in the agricultural sector through ICTs. This vision has been framed in the organisation’s Youth in Agriculture strategy, developed in 2013, which has defined four goals around which CTA has been supporting youth:

  • promote coherent evidence-based policies on youth in agriculture and rural development;
  • enhance the engagement of youth in agricultural value chains;
  • enhance youth engagement in agriculture through ICT innovation and utilisation and knowledge management; and
  • strengthen the engagement of young professionals in agricultural science and tertiary education.

Values and approaches for engaging youth in agriculture using ICTs

Indeed, it has become urgent to harness multi-dimensional strategies and efforts to increase the involvement of the younger generation in agricultural value chains. The aging population of the farming sector, coupled with the relative readiness of the agrifood sector, compared to other sectors, to provide a range of jobs to a significant share of the youth population, constitute key justifying factors. For example, 60 per cent of young people in Africa are either without work, not studying, or engaged in irregular employment (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, 2015), while about twelve million of them enter the job market every year without many opportunities.

In line with the third goal of its youth strategy referred to above, the ARDYIS (Agriculture, Rural Development and Youth in the Information Society) project of CTA, which has been promoting ICT use by youth in agriculture since 2010, has designed a four-pronged framework for engaging them leveraging on digital technologies.

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