AGcelerate was founded in 2017 by a small group of academics, researchers and social entrepreneurs out of the sheer need to link academic research in agriculture with practice.
AGcelerate is a multi-stakeholder partnership initiative for collaboration and co-creation. Today, the initiative has over ten partner institutions from academia, think tanks, business incubators and development agencies
At the core of AGcelerate are north-south linkages. The initiative is built on a strong understanding that interactions and the flow of knowledge and experiences between north and south results in unique solutions.
AGcelerate seeks to be the ‘spider on the web’ of individuals and institutions involved in agripreneurship. As such, AGcelerate will be the ‘one-stop-shop’ and a unique single source of information and data base for anyone interested in research, education, training, or business engagement in agri-food in Africa and the world.
Our mission is to educate, to research, and to stimulate youth entrepreneurship, engagements and exchange in agri-food leading to sustainable development in Africa and rest of the world.
Why we care
Both youth and agriculture are two themes that have been at the center of the development agenda during the last decade. This agenda was set especially by two consecutive World Development Reports on “The Next Generation” (World Bank 2006) and “Agriculture for Development” (World Bank 2007). Similarly, the various issues around the engagement of youth in agriculture and food for sustainable development constitute the theme of this initiative.
In this process one needs to rethink the role of the state viz-a-viz agriculture “for the state, agriculture is no longer the road to industrialization, but an instrument in a multidimensional development process” (De Janvry, 2010). Besides re-conceptualising the role of agriculture in development, the organisation and governance of agriculture and the agri-food industry are key, and questions of equity and income distribution, and the role of small farms are important (Van der Ploeg 2009, Hazell, Poulton et al. 2010). The role of youth in development has become a very central topic among development circles during the last decade since “the situation of young people today presents the world with an unprecedented opportunity to accelerate growth and reduce poverty” (Bank, 2006).
The reason for this interest goes beyond classic concerns about youth unemployment and youth’s potentially ‘risky behaviour’ (Urdal, 2006). The interest is driven by, among others, the observed demographic transformation that takes place in the developing world, especially in Africa, which offers the potential to reap the benefits of a demographic dividend. A country or region can reap a demographic dividend if for some period most of its population falls within the working portion (ages 15-64). It is expected that the added productivity of this group will generate growth - assuming that this is supported by policies in public health, family planning, education, and economic policies that promote labour-market flexibility, openness to trade, and savings (Bloom, Canning et al. 2003, Eastwood and Lipton 2012, Ahmed, Cruz et al. 2016). Besides the potential of a demographic dividend, youth engagement in agriculture and agri-food can provide an outlet for their energy, enthusiasm, creativity, resourcefulness and adaptability to flourish.
However, there is a need to better understand young women’s and men’s aspirations, given the increasing outmigration of youth especially from rural areas, and what it takes to make agriculture a more attractive profession to them both in rural and urban and peri-urban areas. In addition to the instrumental value of integrating youth in development, there is also an obvious intrinsic value in terms of justice, fairness, and income distribution concerns when the demographic majority is left out (Adelman, 1989; Chenery, 1974). The alarming situation confronting many young women and men in Sub-Saharan Africa is in many ways a silent emergency that needs to be addressed.
THE CASE FOR AGCELERATE
There’s a very large number of actors, activities, and resources targeting agri-food entrepreneurship in Africa. Yet, there is very little information of who is doing what, and what the impact of these activities are? Whether they are necessary or if they are repetitive to each other, no one knows. With this lack of coordination, void of information and limited knowledge of the impact, all this energy and resources may be proven short of the overall aim to achieve sustainable development, and more particularly, to reap the benefits of demographic dividend for Africa, recharge the youth and revitalize agriculture and agri-food in Africa.
Our research of the literature and our experience of engaging in agri-food youth entrepreneurship in Africa has convinced us that there is a great need for information for all those involved, for networking and application. AGcelerate is set to play this crucial role.