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Youth Agripreneurship – a promised land for rural development?

Maya in action

Agriculture married business some decades ago, but still the private sector has not made its promise true: the commercialization of agriculture didn’t bring along the long awaited rural development. As we speak, still three-quarters of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas, and thus ensuring better futures for the rural poor means being on the good way towards defeating poverty. The third Global Conference on Agricultural Research for Development points (GCARD3), with brave ambition, at research and innovations as gears for a sustainable world where No One is Left Behind.

Youth agripreneurship is a crucial point that has come in the development agenda only recently – but is still underexplored in academic research. Who’s been left behind is the very future of agriculture: young farmers, agricultural entrepreneurs engaging with the challenges of global agrifood chains.

With the recent shift from aid to trade, increasing expectations have been laid on private sector initiatives for development. On the one hand more and more trade projects embraced responsible standards of making business, while on the other traditional aid programmes envisioned a more participatory type of development. Both experiences posed the accent on inclusiveness and ownership – nevertheless, frustration has increased with regards to the results of such development projects.

While globalization of food supply chains contribute to an increasing tension on issues of food security and sustainability, new socio-economical dynamics in developing countries challenge established paradigms of aid and trade. It is a new culture of making business, which brings new, young, actors on the market, that demands the attention of scholars and development practitioners.

As a matter of fact, stakeholders involved in agribusiness, from the field to the (super)market, have different understandings of making agribusiness. Agripreneurship is then the object of rural development programmes, the object of market regulations, the object of legislations, the object of aspirations, ambitions and hard work of farmers, entrepreneurs, traders. Agripreneurship is a chameleonic, cross-cutting concept that allows us to understand and analyse the complex world of agribusiness. Understanding the multiple meanings of this concept can enable development practitioners to promote synergies between stakeholders. Making agribusiness appealing for the young is understanding their aspirations and understandings of agripreneurship – in order not to leave them behind.

I focus my PhD research on this issue, with the firm belief in a future of inclusive and sustainable agribusiness. My study aims at analysing youth agripreneurship from below (practices and perspectives of agripreneurs themselves) and from above (policies and rules shaping agripreneurship as a market force and rural development tool).  

This blog post is part of the GCARD3 Youth blogpost applications. The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.