Being an entrepreneur is essentially about sighting opportunities and creating value in marketplaces. Entrepreneurship is a concept that explains the process of converting an idea or vision into a new business or venture, or an expansion of an existing business or venture by individuals, a group of individuals, or an established company.
Agriculture in present times is faced with the challenges of globalization, market liberalization, demographic changes, climate change, fluctuating production and consumption patterns, natural resource depletion, rapid urbanization, and food price crises, amongst other issues. Many of these challenges have directly and indirectly contributed to changing markets, and created both opportunities and risks for farmers, especially small holders. With the growing recognition of the important role smallholder agriculture plays in economic growth and rural development, market-oriented agriculture is prominently on the rise.
Agripreneurship is key
Agripreneurship, as a key figure in the economic progression of agrarian and developing societies, refers to entrepreneurship in agriculture. The concept of agricultural entrepreneurship was introduced to support farmers as well agricultural industries by improving the means of production and increasing market engagements. An agripreneur is an entrepreneur whose business is agriculture or agriculture related. A successful agripreneur needs to understand consistency, creative thinking, smart working, risk taking, communication, and finding market opportunities.
The tremendous opportunities present in the agricultural sector has allowed the promotion of agripreneurship. Entrepreneurship in agricultural sectors such as mushroom cultivation, beekeeping, fisheries, sericulture, dairy farming, fisheries, and horticulture encompassing olericulture, pomology and floriculture has provided sufficient scope for agripreneurship ventures. Agripreneurship is for everyone including progressive farmers, unemployed agriculture graduates, retired persons settled in native regions, cooperatives and self-help groups.
There are large areas of agripreneurial development, and some of these areas where agripreneurship can be undertaken include:
Beekeeping and honey production creates endless unexplored opportunities to budding entrepreneurs.
Diagnosis and efficient treatment of weeds, diseases, microbial attacks, and crop pests is a major challenge faced by farmers. Graduates of agriculture can set up plant clinics to combat these challenges.
Landscaping and Nursery
There has been a steady growth of demands to make surroundings greener. However, a gap between demand and supply together with the aspect of accessibility exists. Nursery business has created an opportunity to many by filling up this gap. Worthy of note is the expanding sector of corporate and commercial landscaping.
Small and medium level entrepreneurs can establish units like finger-chips plant, potato-chips plant, tomato sauce plant, etc.
Herbal-Based Mineral Water
Due to the relentless campaigns against chemical hazards, the herbal sector is thriving. The discovery of high degrees of pesticides in drinks and other similar incidents has reinforced the view that herbal is safe.
This sector is a goldmine to budding agripreneurs.
Animal Feed Unit
Although there is a demand-supply imbalance with regards to animal feed due to the unavailability of cheap animal feed, units can be set up at small scales to meet existing demands.
Cultivation of Medicinal Plants
Cultivation of medicinal plants offers good agripreneurial opportunities because there has been a growing demand of herbal medicines and the bent of the pharmaceutical companies towards manufacturing such medicines. Manufacturing these medicines will require raw materials in the form of medicinal plants products and agripreneurs can meet this demand.
Cyber presence in rural areas has been neglected, and there is a need to generate the interest of farmers with regards to the use of the internet in understanding soil conditions, crop protection tips, weather forecast, etc. Cyber extension together with a rural customized approach is a great agripreneurial option.
Floriculture marketing offers great opportunity for agripreneurial explorations. With florist shops, wholesale trading, electronic retailing, etc., the possibilities are endless.
Poultry and Fisheries Development
Meat and egg consumption have boasted of a steady rise over the years. This has provided an opportunity for the budding entrepreneurs engage in poultry business. Poultry farming creates reasonable diversification.
Fisheries business has granted excellent opportunities in both the domestic as well as the export sector. Agripreneurial efforts in this direction can be highly useful.
Farm Machinery Unit
There is a need for customized farm machinery equipment. For example, in hilly places, the traditional farm machineries do not work because of the terrain. Therefore, small, handy and sturdy farm machinery and equipment can be set-up by innovative agriculture engineering graduates.
Some other agripreneurial areas are:
- Agri-eco tourism
- Research and development
- Pesticide production and marketing
- Bio-fertilizer production and marketing
- Seed processing and agribusiness
- Thermo foam tray production
- Veterinary clinics
- Soil testing laboratory
- Post-harvest management
- Vegetable production and marketing
- Organic production/food chain
- Direct and retail marketing
- Contract farming
Why should agripreneurship be promoted?
Traditionally, agriculture was viewed as a way of life especially in the non-industrialized continents of Africa and Asia. The importance of an entrepreneurial culture in the agricultural sector has been recognized in recent decades. Through the development of entrepreneurial and organizational competency, farmers can work in an organized manner and develop sustainable competitive advantage which has enabled successful competition in regional, national, and international markets. Also, sustainable development of the agricultural land depends on the development of organizational and entrepreneurial competency in farmers.
Agripreneurship is a call to make agriculture an attractive and profitable business enterprise. Agriculture possesses great scope for entrepreneurship, and this can be harnessed by effective management of Agri-elements such as water, seed, soil, and market needs. According to World Bank, 2012, agriculture and domestic businesses provide about 50% of employment in developing countries but fails to produce sufficient income to raise people out of poverty. Consequently, entrepreneurial actions associated with agriculture create solution for growing household income. With good managerial skills and entrepreneurial expertise supported by government measures, the growing needs of agribusiness would be facilitated.
Agripreneurship contributes to national income, and direct employment especially in rural areas. Value-added products provide entrepreneurs with larger return on investments and profits. Thus, agripreneurs have to take advantage of change in consumer demand and satisfy consumers’ needs with value-added products.
In summary, agripreneurship can support social and economic development, reduction in poverty index, and ensure good nutrition and food security. In addition, it will allow for the diversification of the economy and income bases by providing employment and entrepreneurial opportunities.