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Motivating and preparing African youth for successful careers in agribusiness: Insights from agricultural role models

Steven Haggblade (Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, United States.)
Antony Chapoto (Research Director, Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, Lusaka, Zambia.)
Aissetou Drame-Yayé (African Network for Agriculture, Agroforestry and Natural Resources Education (ANAFE), Nairobi, Kenya.)
Sheryl L. Hendriks (Institute for Food, Nutrition and Well-being and Department of Agricultural Economics, Extension and Rural Development, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa)
Stephen Kabwe (Indaba Agricultural Policy Research Institute, Lusaka, Zambia.)
Isaac Minde (Department of Agricultural, Food, and Resource Economics, Michigan State University, East Lansing, United States AND iAGRI, Morogo, Tanzania.)
Johnny Mugisha (School of Agricultural Sciences, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.)
Stephanus Terblanche (Department of Agricultural Economics, Rural Development and Agricultural Extension, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.)

Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies

ISSN: 2044-0839

Article publication date: 16 November 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the career trajectories of 66 distinguished African agricultural professionals in order to explore how agricultural education and training (AET) institutions can better motivate and prepare youth for productive careers in Africa’s rapidly changing agrifood system.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on in-depth qualitative interviews with these role models, the paper explores the answers to two critical questions: How can Africa motivate its youth to consider careers in agriculture and agribusiness? How can AET institutions better prepare youth for productive careers in agribusiness?

Findings

Rural youth enter agribusiness careers in response to clearly perceived rural needs coupled with demonstrable profitability of modern agricultural and agribusiness opportunities. In contrast, urban youth embark on agricultural career paths in response to inspiring science education, particularly practical applications in biology, coupled with emerging awareness of the range of professional opportunities afforded by modern agribusiness and commercial agriculture.

Research limitations/implications

The study relies on the basic premise that seasoned, successful professionals – from the private and public sector – can offer useful insights into ways of improving job preparation training for the youth of today seeking careers in the food system of tomorrow. The approach assumes that the role models have both the practical experience and forward-looking vision necessary to identify key elements of preparation likely to benefit future job market entrants.

Originality/value

This paper relies on primary interviews with distinguished agricultural professionals from 14 different African countries.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to thank the many agricultural professionals who took the time to talk with the authors about their own career trajectories and how best to prepare African youth for successful careers in agribusiness. The authors have benefitted from their considerable wisdom and experience. Michael Weber has assisted the authors considerably by helping to publicize, summarize and post the role model profiles online. The authors likewise thank the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) for funding this research under the Capacity Development for Modernizing African Food Systems (MAFS) project grant number 1368-MSU to Michigan State University. The authors remain solely responsible for the content of this paper.

Citation

Haggblade, S., Chapoto, A., Drame-Yayé, A., Hendriks, S.L., Kabwe, S., Minde, I., Mugisha, J. and Terblanche, S. (2015), "Motivating and preparing African youth for successful careers in agribusiness: Insights from agricultural role models", Journal of Agribusiness in Developing and Emerging Economies, Vol. 5 No. 2, pp. 170-189. https://doi.org/10.1108/JADEE-01-2015-0001

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited