Green economy is all about agriculture. It has been said severally that it is one of the most viable way of eradicating poverty in Africa. For a long time I have been blinded by the fact that social entrepreneurship is only concerned with helping people to develop a certain category of skills which all of us can easily imagine.skills of handling white collar professions. I never thought that agriculture can also be included. But after a deep conversation with my friend Raymond Erick zvavanyange from Harare Zimbabwe a new world of possibilities opened in my mind. I realized the potential of agriculture only if we build the capacity of the youth basic skills on agriculture. While going through a Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) report on engaging the youth in the implementation phase of Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program (CAADP) I was so amazed of the opportunities we have as social entrepreneurs to solve the social problems like hunger and crime through green economy.
Just a thought! Do you think a person will risk his/her life going to steal when they are satisfied? NO! Then why have we not made the effort as social entrepreneurs to handle this situation? Simple. It is either we have no information or if we can access the information we have no clue of what we need to do with it. In the report compiled by three great people, passionate about agricultural development in Africa ( Esi Sey Johnson, Gbadebo Olusegun Abidemi Odularu and Emmanuel Tambi) they discuss the views of delegate in the conference in Accra where several interventions that can help to get the youths interested in a agriculture were discussed. Going over the report I thought of social entrepreneurship in terms of agriculture. Social entrepreneurship is about building the capacity of an individual to help them apply their skill, talent and abilities to do something productive that can generate income for them. Dealing with people. People therefore should be trained on how to leverage agricultural skills to earn a living. This can easily be done by us, Social entrepreneurs.
Doesn’t helping to equip people with agribusiness information part of developing the capacity and capability of individual? Yes. Why then for Christ sake haven’t I thought about these? A quick answer is what most of the delegates agreed on, negative bias. That agribusiness is for those that have lost hope of getting a white collar job, something that one does to just pas time, not an activity that can generate income to sustain scalable development.
Why the perception? It is because we have not had many successful agribusiness entrepreneurs given visibility as much as those in the white collar jobs. Do you ever ask yourself why a baby class kid will always dream of becoming a prominent lawyer, doctor, engineer, just because those who have succeeded in those fields have been given such a good publicity. True out of sight out of mind. Nobody has the courage to think in terms of agri-preneur. Creating employment in the agricultural sector. Even when that is done no effort is put to market agribusiness as an attractive activity that can be enjoyed by the youth.
FARA is creating the capacity by making different actors aware of each other ‘s capacities and contributions and helping them exploit their relative and collaborative advantages to a mutual benefit while strengthening their own capacity, I hope this passion will contagiously spread to every part of a Africa. If we can manage to do it we can bid bye to the so called African curse- poverty. The best way we can send this message to the whole world is to leverage the potential of the youth in Africa.
Youths are characterized by the following description vibrant, energetic, innovative and creative and hence can plays a significant role in agriculture value chain development – from production to manufacturing, packaging ,marketing and even to sales. In the book, wisdom of the crowd, the decision made by the masses who are informed is better that a decision made by one expert in the field. Therefore if we are able to harness the potential of billions of African youth we can achieve great strides in developing Africa.
In the process of setting up the strategic plan for CAADP several issues were identified. Going through some of them I will love to give my contribution as to how they can positively offer input towards development of agribusiness.
One Gender sensitive capacity development of the youth- yes I agree that for a while now agriculture was considered a function for the woman. However, with the change of times, it has forced many men to go in to supplement the effort put by women in agricultural production. I will also like to point out that we should not only consider gender alone but rather consider other marginalized groups, and those living with disability. As a social entrepreneur I value dignity for all. This happen by recognizing the contribution and opinions and involving everybody who is willing to participate despite his/her social standing, religion, tribe, language or skin colour. After doing this then we can comfortably say we have building opportunities for young people to be engaged in development of agricultural policy that affect different African countries.
Two Incorporating youth voices in CAADP process- for me it sounds a wonderful program, my concern is that young people are represented by people who have had experiences in ministries. People from another generation. This is an issue that emerged from the UN High level Youth dialogue that youths are not given the opportunity to present their views. In most cases the views presented do not emanate from the youths but from experienced people imagining of what challenges they faced as youths two to three decades ago. Seriously those views then can’t represent the youth of the 21st century who are mobile and impatient to status quo. It is prudent therefore to consider getting as many youths as possible in strategic teams to give opinions and insights which are a really representative the current generation. That way we can have reliable data that will guide in development of proper and relevant agribusiness policies that can aid economic development.
Facilitating communication advocacy and networking- in most of my blogs I have underscored the importance of networking and communication. It is said that your network will determine your net worth. Social media has provided us with a platform to air our concerns. But again without a strategy and proper communication in our social media will result to noise which is not what we want to achieve. For us then to succeed in this we need to guide the youths in terms of how they communicate their challenges, ideas and experiences and to establish a platform to bridge the gap between policy makers and young people. Encouraging as many youths as possible to come online for convenient sharing of important information. Just like liquid Telcom has linked about (480) Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) to internet grid which has significantly improved the operations of the organizations.
Proper coordination of the existing agricultural programs- it should not be always said that impunity is the other name for African leadership. That most of the people who benefit are your clansmen, your brothers or sisters alone. Let freedom reign and equality to be a virtue that we uphold. When all that is done we can then think of economic growth otherwise it will be an hallucination
Use of information communication and technology- the world has become a small village with ICT. People are earning a living through social media marketing. The only advantage is that the highest percentage of the people on social media are youths. We can leverage this to create a platform where agricultural knowledge can be shared. Nowadays you can share large files on WhatsApp, this therefore avails a good opportunity for us to develop our skills on agricultural issues. We should find ways of attracting the youth into the field of agriculture by making it to sound something cool. Something that every young person will never want to miss. Let several competitions be run targeting to demystify the significance of agriculture.
Finally mentorship- I know there are so many people who have excelled in agriculture. By increasing the visibility of such people, we would help to market the importance of agriculture. It will not cost much. But we should be willing to give up something dear to us. For us to achieve the desired results concerning agricultural development in Africa. We ought to give up our selfishness; greediness and instead embrace respect for all. That way we can humbly correct one another as well as develop our gifts ,talents , abilities, capacities and capabilities. Helping to teach the youths on how to make a living from agriculture.
This is my prayer for Africa