Young agribusiness men and women are motivated by more than profits

Young agribusiness men and women are motivated by more than profits

When it comes to starting a business, money is not everything. African youth are attracted to agribusiness if there is money to be made, but profit is not the only motive. Young people are also interested in work that confers high status, and they are more likely to stay in the countryside it if is equipped with roads, electricity and running water.

In a recent article Mastewal Yami and colleagues at the IITA analyze what works and what does not work to attract African youth to agribusiness. This analysis becomes particularly relevant in a context where youth rarely decide on the objectives of the agribusiness interventions, how they will be implemented, or the quality of products and services they will produce. The youths’ expectations also limit their participation in collective action. Most interventions pay little attention to identifying and addressing the constraints which could improve the youths’ participation in the groups.

The most successful interventions, by governments and donors are “integrated.” They bring together capacity development, financing, and mentoring. Agribusiness, which includes farming plus retailing and all the other industries and services through to retail, needs to be rebranded as a competitive career path for youth. Young people also need improved access to land, better skills, enhanced information, and communication technology (ICT), and more market access.

TV and radio have been able to motivate youth to enter agribusiness, but promotional campaigns often portray youth agribusiness as easy and successful, when it is really arduous work. Nevertheless, most of the interventions. Most of the interventions by government and projects in Africa have successfully inspired youth to engage in agribusiness, especially when coupled with the clever use of ICT. But women have about 25% less internet access than men. Expanding access to ICT is an opportunity to attract youth to agribusiness, especially if young women can gain more access to the Internet.

Interventions tend to act as though youth are only interested in money, when in fact they are also influenced by how soon an activity will pay off, by its social status, and the difficulty of acquiring the skills, explains Mastewal Yami. She goes on to say that youth also need access to land, financing, training, technical support. The Songhaï Center in Benin has been able to integrate these capacities. Of 300 youth who graduate from Songhaï, 70% successfully engage with agribusiness after graduating.

Youth can be motivated by media, grants, training and investment in infrastructure that make rural communities more comfortable and more productive. ENABLE Youth, a program with IITA, helps young people develop business plans and seek loans in seven African countries.

These findings are being used to foster youth engagement in agriculture by developing innovations that enhance a prompt return on investment, promoting access to knowledge through ICT and fostering youth-friendly business opportunities through ICT innovations such as Nuru, and Cassava Seed Tracker, mentioned elsewhere in this report, and Cassava Peel Tracker, discussed in the 2018 report.

This review suggests that the best approach is to integrate mentorship, financing training and contacts with the private sector and with funding agencies. Youth also need to be involved in the design of the interventions.

Vitamin A cassava sellers inside their shop. Ibadan, Nigeria. G. Thiele (RTB)