"Work by CTA - such as the AgriHack Initiative - and others has demonstrated that ICT has a key role to play in supporting and enhancing the performance of economies, including in the agriculture sector. However, young innovators interested in entering this sector commonly lack key skills and knowledge." - CTA Director Michael Hailu
This guide provides introductory knowledge and recommendations to young people interested in developing e-agriculture businesses. It builds on the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA)'s experience of working with young people in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The guide provides a step-by-step roadmap designed to equip aspiring ICT entrepreneurs with the information and knowledge they need to start an ICT-based business in the agricultural sector (including fisheries, livestock and forestry), outlining key opportunities and challenges that will be encountered along the way. It is also designed to reach incubators and institutions that support young ICT for agriculture (ICT4Ag) entrepreneurs to develop their skills.
Taking a hands-on approach, the guide provides 14 case studies, as well as practical advice from 17 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. Topics covered include agricultural value chains and their stakeholders, ICT business challenges, effective business plans, and models for designing, funding, and scaling ventures. A selection of business and product development tools and a comprehensive references section provide material for further inquiry.
One of the case studies 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 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.
The guidebook was launched during the April 2017 African Youth Agripreneurs Forum, a two-day event that brought together 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 sought to encourage young people to harness ICTs to improve various stages of the agricultural value chain. In so doing, they can contribute to youth employment and income generation, as well as to a reduction in food imports and increased food production for a growing population.