As Regional Manager for Structured Trading Systems at the Eastern Africa Grain Council, Samwel Rutto’s work entails promoting structured markets to facilitate trade and eliminating inefficiencies in the grain industry. Here he explains how his experience in the design and operation of an electronic grain trading system has taught him some of the pitfalls to avoid when trying to scale up digital marketing platforms for agribusiness.Read More
Many institutions engaged in the agricultural and rural development sector across the globe invest in initiatives centred on youth and entrepreneurship. Few sponsor, support and train youth within their working environment, and foster the practical skills to help serve other organisations intervening within the agricultural development sector. For more than 10 years, CTA has specialised in incubating young professionals, scaling up their capacities and releasing valuable professionals with applicable abilities in the agricultural industry.
A year of engagement
Working at CTA was a dream come true. I wanted to broaden my knowledge of the development sector in general – and of ICTs and youth in agriculture specifically – and CTA’s work and core intervention areas aligned perfectly with my chosen field of expertise. I joined the ICT4Ag team a year ago, where I focused on youth entrepreneurship and innovation technology, contributing to projects supporting the adoption of ICTs by young agripreneurs, and supporting digital entrepreneurs who offer ICT services to agricultural stakeholders. My own role within the team presented a wealth of opportunities:
- Focusing on ICTs in agriculture, I facilitated knowledge sharing, networking and disseminating information about the emerging ICT trends in the sector – as the opportunities these present to youth. Within the framework of this activity, I had the opportunity to animate the project’s social networking platforms by developing, editing and curating relevant content (news, opportunities, resources, videos, success/impact stories, testimonials, etc.), which were posted on social media and the project website.
- I provided monitoring and evaluation support to a number of CTA’s youth and ICT projects in ACP countries, including the ‘Climate Smart Agriculture and Entrepreneurship in Young Farmers’ Clubs’ and ‘Youth leading learning in climate-resilient value chains in the Pacific’ projects.
- I also provided critical assistance in maintaining the Twitter account and web spaces for the AgriHack Talent initiatives; identifying and disseminating information about agriculture, ICTs and business development; and organising thematic e-debates to support ICT agripreneurs.
- As well as having a hand in the achievement of the outlined duties above at project level, I was also exposed to support in the capitalisation of knowledge. Here, my responsibilities included identifying the results and impacts for all activities in which I was involved; drafting press-releases, articles and activity reports; and producing original knowledge products for CTA publications.
Engaging with development organisations at national or international level is crucial for young professionals as they develop their ideas. This will help to broaden their understanding of development processes and practices, and will enable them to identify a market niche where their contribution will be most effective – both in terms of impact and value addition. In a nutshell, 365 days spent working with CTA has provided me a number of key insights into the world of agricultural development, which I can now take forward:
- An online presence is integral to boosting the visibility of initiatives. Communicating project activities and sharing information with digital tools can help to establish an audience that will be dedicated to your online channels, and will follow your actions and support your initiatives.
- In pursuing ground-level impacts, the capacity to quantify measurable results is crucial because that’s what demonstrates the success of a project.
- Developing a business model that can ensure efficient service delivery to customers, and which will generate income, can be a laborious process – to be effective, field reality and external limiting factors need to be considered, for a better positioning of the business in its growth phase.
- Capitalising generated or documented knowledge needs to be regarded from a technical, communicational and grammatical point of view. It’s from this approach only that the final piece produced, can be easily captured by the beneficiaries, who will rely on its content to adopt and adapt in his/her context or area of work.
I have spent a year immersed in CTA’s work on youth entrepreneurship, digitalisation and climate resilience – and I would thoroughly recommend, to all young professionals who wish to develop their skills in this area, to look up to this organisation. CTA leads on various fronts within the agricultural and rural space, and with its dynamic and proactive professional staff, CTA helps to produce effective technical professionals – from farmers themselves, to input suppliers and extension workers.