In an era of high youth unemployment rate and tough economic times in Kenya, the educated youths have resulted in doing their own businesses thus the entrepreneurship craze. Startups in Kenya are mostly copy-pasted; with consumer trends dictating where entrepreneurs choose to invest. Agribusiness ventures are usually the ones hit hard by trends that come and go. Remember the quail’s trend, the yogurt value addition craze and now the avocado seedling supply to farmers with a promised China market? The problem with most agribusiness opportunities is the lack of a top-down approach. Commercial farmers should base their production strategy on market demands, have a ready market for which to supply before embarking on any farming activity.
Information asymmetry, farmers lacking information on markets, is what brings about exploitation by middlemen. Youths looking to venture into agribusiness and more so become entrepreneurs need to realize that farming is a business. Let’s think of agribusiness as a game of chess and access to information is the queen. The following steps might come in handy as you prepare to start your new farming venture.
Undertaking market research entails knowing who your target market is, their dietary requirements, the gaps in the existing markets, your advantage over competitors and how can you maximize on your resources. The youth know and understand how the internet works. The internet holds the bulk of information which gives the youth an edge over the old generation. Their tech-savviness is their super-power.
Market research entails keeping up to date with the trends in the agriculture sector. This entails a lot of reading, following up with current affairs not only in agriculture but also in trade, nutrition and other affiliated ministries and tracking policies that support agriculture production. Now youtube is my best friend and WiFi a formidable enabler in getting updates in the agriculture space. Youtube channels such as Citizen Live, Shamba Shape-up, Seeds of Gold, Farmers Tv, Agriculture Life, Advancing eco-agriculture among many others.
Graduate Farmer and other online information platforms also provide insights on farming and hacks by different youths in the sector.
Business Model Canvas
This is basically a business plan that is pictorial and segmented into the key elements of running a successful business. It is important to feed into these elements when thinking of venturing into agripreneurship after identifying the target market and commodity/service to offer.
Agriculture is a risky business by nature and running it without proper capital investments is aiming for doom. Since agriculture is a gamble with nature, nature can take its course. Information is power and you need to consider the following;
- Market prices- inflation, stock exchange among others.
- Input prices-seed, machinery, pesticides
- Land prices whether leasing or doing contractual farming
- Enabler activities such as packaging, fueling of machinery, marketing through social media
- Administrative cost such as levies in the County governments CESS and Market place levies. Another additional administrative cost is your business registration, licensing and taxes.
In conclusion, agribusiness is not only about farming but also support services to farming activities. Before starting a business, consider having capital adequate enough to run it smoothly for six consecutive months. If you are passionate about making money in the soil and are not as loaded, pick the low hanging fruits as a starter. Vegetables especially indigenous vegetables, spices like coriander, herbs and poultry farming-these value chains are short term yielders and are on high demand as a must-have in daily Kenyan diets.
Successful agribusiness is a journey of trial and error. Persistence and precision is the game.