Article written by Mr. Olawale Oyo, Nigeria, and published by the Young professionals in Agriculture and Rural Development (YPARD). Full credit to YPARD.net
As we step into the year 2013, a lot of indications of earlier activities of the last quarter of 2012 show that serious attention would be drawn to agriculture, with a business unusual dimension for the sector. What this means is that agriculture would no longer be seen as mere farming- a laborious venture with lot of waiting period for benefits to be gotten but rather as a business, a source of employment for the youths, a source of livelihood and most importantly (especially to me) a sector that young people would begin to find desirous,attractive and lucrative.
To succeed as young people and agric entrepreneurs, it is important that we are armed with not only the relevant information, right and appropriate skills to thrive but have a strong desire and see the attractive but BIG picture in Agriculture, Food Supply Chain, Food Safety etc. Here are a few tips i have decided to share with all the young people out there that desire to go into any part of Agriculture and Agribusiness or that are already into it.
Be Business Plan Ready: Funding and grant competitions and opportunities would open up in 2013. One of the basic requirements is that you MUST have a business plan. It is important that you have one ready at all times. Like my friend Allavi Elorm of Syecomp Business Services in Ghana said “Make sure your business plan is handy and accessible in both soft and hard copies”. You just have to be ready when the opportunity comes knocking at the door. Be it a competition or the opportunity to pitch your plan before potential clients or investors.
Leverage on the Skills and Knowledge (of your friends and associates): Involve trusted friends (vision or dream builders) in your endeavour. The world we live in is blessed with very blessed individuals and this offers us a win-win environment. Be willing to ask for help from friends who would be ready to do some tasks for you at no cost or a cheaper one. Let us take this as a typical example, do you need to do graphic design works for branding of your agro firm why not talk to a friend who has got expertise in graphic design. Often, such ones are willing to do it for free or at a comfortable discount. BUT never take the help or discount for granted.
Network and Join the right support Organisations: Trust me, being part of he right networks and organisations either online or offline makes it possible to gain access to information and resources needed. A few examples are Young Professionals’ platform for Agricultural Research for Development(YPARD), Harambe Nigeria, Global Youth Innovation Network (GYIN), National Association of Small Scale Industrialist (NASSI) to mention a few. Like the pages and join groups on social networks that relate to agriculture. All these organisations or networks have products, resources, seminars, workshops and other opportunity openings that young agro entrepreneurs need from time to time.
Do not Joke with Farmers’ Organisation: Interestingly, government, research institutions, organisation, banks etc. both local and international desire always to align with groups of farmers rather than individuals. So ensure that you are part of a farmers’ organisation or cooperative at the very least. In Nigeria for example, the government recognises the All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) and they are found in every state of the federation. So make out time and join one. What more, interacting with fellow farmers and agro allied service providers helps in understanding the terrain and create synergy to tackle common problems and challenges.
Be Information Hungry: it is often said that “knowledge is Power”. As young people (with a so much passion, desire that finds Agriculture attractive), we need to be HUNGRY for relevant and credible information and resources. Sometimes this information opens up tips, opportunities and a large array of doors and networks that would be helpful. This brings me to the Power of the Social Media Networks. Merely following the research bodies like CGIAR, FARA, CIMMIT on twitter connects you to lot of information that would be invaluable.
Engage in Personal Development and Training: Everyday new findings and results are revealed or unravelled through researches. More knowledge is provided about value chains and investment opportunities for entrepreneurs in the sector. As young entrepreneurs it is important that you get the right trainings through workshops, conferences and specialised training classes. Sometimes you have to pay for them. It could be a new method of cropping or livestock management or even soft skills and business management training. All these make us fit for the sector and ready to excel.
Join the revolution of Young Agropreneurs; our Nation and continent waits on us to turn things around. This is real business. Follow these tips and some more you may have gathered on your own and be sure of success. See you all at the top.