Webinar Recap: The role of youth in transforming Africa’s agriculture sector

Generation Africa and VC4A recently launched a bi-monthly webinar series as part of ongoing efforts to enhance vibrancy on the GoGettaz Community platform and promote knowledge sharing on key thematic areas with focus on youth agripreneurship. 

The first webinar series on the Role of youth in transforming Africa’s Agriculture sector brought together different stakeholders including youth agripreneurs across Africa to connect and learn from the 2022 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize winner and finalist, Esther Kimani, Founder FarmerLifeline Technologies, Kenya, and Mochesane Mpali, Co-Founder Lema Agrivest, Lesotho, respectively who shared insights on how their startups were contributing towards sustainable food systems. 

Esther Kimani – 2022 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Winner 

Esther Kimani, Founder FarmerLifeline Technologies has developed a crop pest and disease detection device which is mounted on the farm to help farmers detect if there is any pest or disease in the farm. The device has scanners which rotate frequently and captures images of crops in the farm and incase a pest or disease is identified, a farmer is notified through SMS on their mobile phone with information on the crops infested, type of pest and disease detected and a recommendation of what the farmer should apply as a solution. 

With support from various partners including Generation Africa, Kimani has managed to increase the scan radius of the device in the farm from 100 meters to 600 meters with current focus being enabling the scanners to rotate upto 360 degrees instead of the current 180 degrees.  

The uptake of the device has been more in rural areas where farming is mostly practiced, and FarmerLifeline technologies works closely with cooperatives to reach more farmers. On climate change, the startup advises farmers to use carbon negative fertilizers or those with low amounts of carbon to reduce the amount of the gas released onto the atmosphere.

“Youth should not shy away from accelerator/incubation programs that do not offer direct financing and take advantage of learning new skills essential in managing startups such as marketing, financial management, team management and bankable business models”, says Esther Kimani

Mochesane Mpane – 2022 GoGettaz Finalist 

The 2019 food inflation in Lesotho inspired Mochesane Mpali to seek solutions on how he could help people living in urban areas mitigate soaring food prices. This is how Lema Agrivest was formed, a hydroponics and aquaponics farming startup with key focus on creating an inclusive ecosystem for smallholder farmers and vulnerable communities to be food secure. Hydroponics is the growing of crops without soil in a controlled environment which involves ensuring the water has enough nutrients essential for crops.  Some of their services by Lema Agrivest include:

  1. Design and manufacturing of hydroponics equipment’s.
  2. Capacity building farmers on the benefits of hydroponics.
  3. Plans are currently ongoing to have a hydroponic farmers association that will help farmers access more markets.

Being the pioneer of hydroponics farming in Lesotho, Mpali has been resilient despite challenges that came along the way such as creating awareness and changing farmers mindset on benefits of hydroponic farming, lack of investor appetite, challenges of linking the actual business model to the industry and sourcing for local materials to manufacture hydroponics equipments locally as importing them was very expensive.

Mpali advised upcoming agripreneurs to first gain traction of their agribusiness before expanding, this includes creating consumer awareness on the availability and benefits of their product.  

For those looking forward to taking part in the 2023 GoGetttaz Agripreneur Prize Competition, Mpali emphasized on the need of understanding their agribusiness well and having confidence while pitching it to the selected panel of judges.

Specifically, the webinar aimed to:

  • Profile young agripreneurs, facilitate linkages between stakeholders and promote knowledge sharing and learnings on successful models of supporting youth in agribusiness.
  • Introduce Generation Africa team and the GoGettaz online community platform to participants in the webinar.

A demonstration of key features available on the GoGettaz online community platform was done with an emphasis on the benefits of being part of this online community which today has over 9,000 registered members comprising agriculture sector players across the globe. Some of these benefits include free registration, access to latest agripreneurship opportunities such as grants; competitions; incubation and accelerator programs and; fellowship opportunities; exciting articles featuring different agripreneurs showcasing how they are transforming the value chain, listing of youth ventures, continued networking amongst members in the community through the members page and the VC4A Academy which has free courses tailored for different startups needs to help them grow. A certificate is always issued after completion of each course.

Here is a recap of the webinar proceedings! 

Our next webinar series will be in April 2023! Stay tuned for upcoming details. 

Article Written by Sharon Anyango

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