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Agritainment: a catalyst for agribusiness growth in Africa

As a not-for-profit agribusiness organization, the Agrifood Value Innovation and Marketing Society, AGRIVIMS, searches for innovative pathways of achieving our vision in promoting Agrifood Value Innovations to benefit producers and consumers in sustainable environment.

Global food security is reported to be under threat. Many farmers across the globe are aging with no replacement. The United Nation projects that world population could reach over 10 billion by 2050, and this has raised eye brows as current global agriculture output may not sustain this population increase. Much of the increase in food production is expected to come from smallholder family farmers in developing countries, who cultivate about 80% of arable land and produce most of the world's food. The challenge however is that, though technologies various exist, aged farmers around the world cannot easily and widely adopt these technologies.

Well- known challenges such as poor infrastructure, lack of skilled human capital, low education and technical know-how, lack of financial credit for start-up or up scaling, and absence of systems to protect agribusiness related innovations and intellectual properties affects overall output. That notwithstanding, increasing aging farmer populations of global average of 60 years, could limit global food production. Many of the farmers in Africa are also under educated and well advanced in age hence may not be able to use the new technologies. The continent is therefore battling with the ‘No Future Farmers’ syndrome just like other parts of the world.

In the wake of huge youth unemployment across Africa, the underdeveloped agriculture and agribusiness sector with its huge potentials provides a path way that could generate millions of stable jobs for the youth in Africa. The continent holds half of the world’s uncultivated arable land and agriculture is projected to create stable employment for eight million people by 2020.

Unfortunately, not much attention has been paid to how discussions on agriculture and agribusiness can be made more open and attractive to the youth in a plain, clear and interesting language that they can easily relate with like other sectors such as music and football games which have employed the method of entertainment usually in the form of Reality Television Programs and has over the years attracted many youth as evident in the number of youth we see participating in these industries.

Entertainment is a form of activity that holds the attention and interest of an audience, or gives pleasure and delight. These activities are provided with amusement or enjoyment be it an idea, a task but must have the purpose of keeping an audience's attention. Reality television became popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s with the global success of programs such as Idols and Big Brother. These shows and several others (including competition-based programs) have since become global franchises, giving rise to local versions in many countries and forms one of the ten most popular TV programs across the globe.

Just like dating-based competition, job search and sports reality TV programs, agriculture and agribusiness discussions can also integrate entertainment in its discourse in a new scenario known as ‘Agritainment’ where agriculture and agribusiness education are woven into entertaining shows. Agribusiness is discussed within the context of ‘entertainment’ so as to catch the attention of many young people and whip their interest in to the industry. This would reduce the “masculinity” surrounding discussions on agribusiness hence open up the industry to younger people since entertainment is a language the youth understands better and can relate with.

Agritainment: A catalyst attracting youth into agribusiness

Major ways Agritainment would catalyse agribusiness in African specific countries. The concept could:

  1. Create new ways of discussing agribusiness which integrate agribusiness discourse with entrainment nodes which is a better language understood and preferred by young people.
  2. Provide direct real time platform where contestants are examined on motivations and ability to execute each agribusiness innovation being pitched
  3. Create avenue for direct public input in shaping agribusiness as they make inputs via interactions on social media as the contestants pitch various ideas in terms feasibility in specific regions or communities in a country.
  4. Generate general interest and support from regional and local community authorities who would want to support with land for a wining agribusiness innovation in their communities
  5. Create direct jobs for all contestants whose innovations are SMART as they are given the necessary support right at the end of each particular season.
  6. Provide a platform where various participants gain reputation and integrity from local, regional, national and even global communities as programs are broadcasted on national and international media
  7. Provide a broad and faster learning platform for the larger population, especially young people, to get expert and technical information on various specific agribusiness innovations as a way of education
  8. Provide avenue for Angel investors and other agribusiness companies to engage young people for more engagement along the value chain
  9. Provide skilled human capital as other interested young Agriprenuers are attracted to work with the ‘Agribusiness Stars’ whose projects fits into their own.
  10. Open up the entire Agribusiness value chain to all interested stakeholders which would encourage the creation of adequate innovations and systems towards growth
  11. Global average age of farmers would drop from current 60 years to 36 years.
  12. Together we can eliminate to large extent global hunger as we produce more food and process for better consumption.

Photo credit: Courage Besah-Adanu

Contact details of author:

Dr. Courage Besah-Adanu, Founder and CEO of Agrifood Value Innovations and Marketing Society (AGRIVIMS)

Cell: +233 2466 30512; Email: kadanu2@gmail.com; Skype: courage.adanu1