Empowering youth for agribusiness
‘The audacity of entrepreneurship: youth in action,’ (L'audace d'entreprendre : une jeunesse en action) – the title of his latest book – encapsulates the essence of Benin-based José Herbert Ahodode’s vision to promote youth entrepreneurship in agribusiness as a model to create sustainable rural employment and wealth in African countries and make the agri-food sector more productive.
In addition to being a writer, José is an agricultural socio-economist and CEO of Crystal Agro Business, which is a consulting, training, communication and agricultural advisory company in Benin. He is an alumnus of the African German Youth Initiative and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation and a member of civil society organisations and think tanks involved in addressing the development challenges of the African continent.
For José, African youth must be empowered through opportunities to engage in agribusiness enterprises across the entire food value chain by adopting better practices using information and communications technology (ICT)-based media, such as videos.
“Agribusiness integrates all economic activities related to producing, processing and marketing quality farming products. In Benin, it is one of the sectors that offers real opportunities for young people, who want to embark on agricultural entrepreneurship,” José said.
He is, however, aware that one of the biggest obstacles is the negative image of agriculture among youth, which is seen as a labour-intensive and unprofitable sector, with lack of access to finance, limited access to information on food processing and value addition technologies and above all the lack of capacity in agroecological practices and rural entrepreneurship.
“That is why, the heart of our activities is training of producers, value chain actors and young entrepreneurs,” explained José. “We are working in synergy with partners in the field to promote learning through videos, such as those from Access Agriculture on processing, value addition and business skills.”
He is very keen to reach a large number of producers and entrepreneurs and make them aware of the thematic videos. “But given the challenges of our communities, as many do not have electricity, it would be necessary to have suitable projectors, such as the smart projector.” He is also investigating how the EcoAgtube (www.ecoagtube.org) video-sharing platform could be useful to young agricultural entrepreneurs.
Based on his expertise, rich experience and commitment to developing the capacities of youth in agroecology and entrepreneurship, José was selected in 2019 as an ambassador for Access Agriculture (www.accessagriculture.org), a non-profit global service provider that supports farmer learning in the Global South through quality videos in international and local languages.
“I am certainly hopeful that thanks to proper training and an enabling environment, exciting opportunities will open up for our young entrepreneurs to build robust and thriving agribusinesses so that African countries can reduce their heavy reliance on food imports,” José said.
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