Youth Engagement: Agribusiness Innovation Center (AIC) model for Nepal

Youth are playing Careem board on their  leisure time from Taplejung, Nepal

Youth are playing Careem board on their leisure time from Taplejung, Nepal
Photo: Dinesh Panday

Youth, defined in Nepal’s National Youth Policy as those aged 16-40, make up 39 percent of total population, and 38.8 percent of them are either unemployed or underemployed.  These young people are not necessarily idle, but report themselves as “unemployed” because they are waiting for what they consider “appropriate” jobs while they are engaged in odd jobs. This not only shows how badly human potential is wasted, but also highlights the irrationality in the economic and political structures that we live in.

Globally, organizations like ILO, UN Millennium Development Goal, etc. have raised the issue of youth unemployment, but neither these institutions, nor other development agencies and national governments have any idea how to generate decent and productive work for youth on the required scale.

Youth are the key part of a country’s national, socio-economic and political life. Youth engagement in developmental work is meant to empower young people to play an assertive and constructive role. In recent times, the information and communication technology (ICT) sector is booming propelled by the rapidly growing usage of mobile phone and internet services.

In recent years, there have been improvements in agricultural infrastructures in Nepal. Nepal has achieved a 24.51 percent internet penetration, according to the latest figures released by the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA). Around 90 percent of the country’s data customers are mobile GPRS users. Mobile phones are helping in agriculture and rural development by providing information to farmers about market demand and supply, about market opportunities and much more.

One of the biggest advantages being technology adopter means we can replicate successful development models. Similarly our generation can help introduce new technologies whilst also learning from traditional methods, holding the potential to offer the perfect fusion of new and traditional solutions to some of the biggest challenges. Several global organizations like World Bank, e-agriculture, CTA etc. are working on ICTs to innovation and entrepreneurship support, designing new tools to help start-ups drive growth, tackle development challenges from several years.

Technological progress is a considerable driving force behind economic growth. ICT infrastructure in particular has attracted much investment, and generated significant fiscal revenues and employment opportunities in developing countries. In this regards, Agribusiness Innovation Center (AIC) model is a successful model of global leading organizations in countries like Tanzania, Senegal, etc. and now under practice in Nepal.

Agribusiness development comprises supporting a number of components including Small and Medium Enterprises incubation, and value-chain development through support to farms (of varying sizes) and large-scale investments. It seeks to test a variety of models for providing pioneering agro-processing entrepreneurs with a holistic financial and nonfinancial service offering that enables innovation and facilitates access to markets, and thus accelerates the growth of the enterprises.

It’s a one-stop shop where a range of service offerings are provided to new, budding and established entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are able to access training, mentoring and coaching services, facilities, market research and linkages, financing and government, industry and donor networks. infoDev is now aiming to make the AIC a reality for Nepal.

Agricultural professionals are more and more concerned with the potential uses of ICT for rural development, while these tools also continue to be popular among young people and it can also help deter young people away from stereotypes of traditional farming and help change their perceptions on agriculture by helping them to view it as an exciting and innovative industry.

To conclude, ICTs have a great role to play in agricultural development, food security and rural development. ICTs will allow farmers to show with globalization (E-trade, e-selling, e-learning, e-education).  To achieve these goals, youth have to be implicated because there are those concerned by economic growth, social security and political stability, because youth represents more than 60% of handwork in all sector notably agriculture, more than 80% are students, and they are those who will lead the world tomorrow and ICTs is an essential key.

Focusing on the youth therefore, in programs that stimulate sustainable agricultural development, is necessary. For developing countries like Nepal, it was recommended that a robust relationship between agencies interested and government of Nepal to encourage youth involvement in agriculture by supporting and promoting rural infrastructure and equal access to the use of ICTs among women and men is critical. Similarly, involvement of Public-Private Partnerships and investment of private banking sectors can brings these models into real in very short period of incubation. In fact, this will enhance youth involvement and can act as catalyst in agricultural development.

4 responses

  1. ICT Agriculture can really bring a new revolution in the developing and agrarian country like Nepal where most of the rural population is involved in subsistence agriculture. Many of the new technologies which take years to reach our farmers. In such a case use of ICT will surely be beneficial to help our farmers get up to date with the various new innovations ………….

    1. Thanks to Swati Shrestha for her noble thinking about ICT for her fellow countrymen (farmers) that might breed good impact on farming community. But I am a bit confused whether the poor farmers can afford the cost of mobile phone in Nepal. It is out of reach to the rural farmers of Bangladesh compared to developed countries. As for instance, the telephone cost in Canada’s big Metropolis is free. So the cell phone companies should reduce the cell phone cost in order to give facility to the farmers.

  2. […] Luzan Baral: Arjun Paudel: Dinesh Panday:… […]

  3. Thanks a lot to the Swati Shrestha for your constructive comment. Similarly thanks to BYND 2015 Nepal Hub for selecting as this blog post to the winner list of blogging competition entitled “ICT for Development and Future Generations: An Idea to Global Leaders”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: