Blog: Balancing old and new ways: Including young people in the agribusiness sector

Published on
May 4, 2018

By: Imme Widdershoven

On Wednesday 18 April 2018, the seminar 'Youth in Markets: Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Agribusiness' took place in the WICC in Wageningen, organized by WUR-CDI The seminar addressed the urgent question of how to include young people in the agribusiness sector. Globally, the number of young people is rising. However, labour markets are not yet adapted to incorporate the newcomers. As most youth grow up in rural areas, these areas need to be investigated for their potential to provide economic opportunities for these young people as well. Among other things, a lack of access to land and finance hinders entry into the agribusiness sector. This seminar brought together development professionals, policy makers and students from different countries and disciplines to get engaged and brainstorm about solutions for the associated problems


Four cases addressing these issues were presented during the seminar. Mandla Nkomo (Solidaridad Southern Africa) outlined the challenges of youth entrepreneurship. He emphasized the need to teach young people to recognize viable economic options instead of only reasoning in opportunities: an opportunity does not equal a good idea! Hanneke Vermeulen (ICRA) presented a success story of a market access program working with young extension coaches in Kenya that showed the importance of intergenerational cooperation and adaptation to the local context. Judith Jacobs (KIT, WCDI, YPARD) explored the benefits of including youth in agricultural cooperatives. Youth need economic opportunities as well as agricultural cooperatives need innovation and 'new blood' to sustain themselves. The barriers for youth to enter these cooperatives will have to be reduced through adequate training and policy change. Finally, Roy van der Drift (SNV) presented  the OYE program for youth-driven transition in the agribusiness sector, emphasizing the need to investigate which opportunities are accessible and which are attractive to the diverse group that is youth.