With their talent for using and developing ICT apps, young people are uniquely positioned to address challenges in the agriculture sector of ACP countries, while creating profitable career paths and incomes for themselves. Building on CTA's considerable experience of working with youth in the ICT sector, the guide sets out to provide aspiring young people with the business skills and knowledge needed to launch successful start-ups. The handbook is also aimed at incubators and institutions that support young ICT for agriculture (ICT4Ag) entrepreneurs to develop their skills.
"Work by CTA – such as the AgriHack Initiative – and others has demonstrated that ICT has a key role to play in improving the performance of economies, including in the agriculture sector. However, young innovators interested in entering this sector commonly lack key business skills and knowledge," said CTA Director Michael Hailu. "This guide is designed to provide introductory knowledge and recommendations to young people interested in developing e-agriculture businesses."
The publication, compiled by a team of international agribusiness and ICT consultants, aims to fill critical knowledge gaps in areas such as identifying user needs, and designing successful ICT services for different stages of the agricultural value chain. Topics covered include ICT business challenges and how to solve them, creating effective business plans and developing strategies to attract funding and capital.
Taking a hands-on approach, the guide provides a number of case studies, as well as practical advice from young ACP entrepreneurs interviewed for the publication. It also presents common mistakes and ways to avoid them, and recommendations on how to scale up successful cases. A selection of business and product development tools and a comprehensive references section provide material for further inquiry.
One of the case studies highlights a successful initiative to improve food and income security throughout Africa by pairing the owners of low-cost 'smart tractors' with farmers via an innovative SMS-based service. Another describes a Jamaica-based start-up that has created a marketing platform for agricultural producers and a complementary purchasing platform for businesses. As a result, farmers have improved market access and businesses are able to buy local produce. Another innovative ICT4Ag venture that uses solar-powered smart sensors to measure soil moisture, temperature, humidity, light and nutrient levels has resolved its financing problems through crowdfunding, and is now streaming data to the cloud.
"ICT for agriculture is a multi-million dollar business at the intersection of several domains; it is still new and bears many challenges for entrepreneurs," said Ken Lohento, ICT for Agriculture Programme Coordinator at CTA. "This publication gives young entrepreneurs – and people who help them – tools and guidance so that they can understand the agricultural value chain opportunities and create successful businesses."
Fittingly, the launch of the guidebook comes during the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum, which opens in Ibadan, Nigeria on April 25. The two-day event, hosted by the African Development Bank with support from CTA and other institutions, will attract young agripreneurs from across the continent, as well as mentors and incubator managers, investors in agriculture and representatives from governments, agribusiness development organisations, universities and development partners. The forum seeks to encourage young people to harness ICTs to improve various stages of the agricultural value chain. In so doing, they can make a major contribution to youth employment and income generation, as well as to a reduction in food imports and increased food production for a growing population.
For more information, please contact:
Stéphane Gambier, Senior Programme Coordinator, Communications