Since the Nane Nane Agricultural Exhibition kicked off last week, hundreds of youth are flocking at PASS Trust’s booth in Morogoro Region in search of opportunities to join the centres where they can be mentored on agribusiness transformation.
The Agribusiness Innovation Centre (AIC) is a unit under PASS Trust, and has been praised by both the government and the private sector stakeholders as an ideal set up that gives youth opportunities to get to interact with experts on horticulture and livestock fattening for business purposes.
Since the start of the centres in 2018, and with great support from the government of Denmark, over 500 incubates have been mentored on various agribusiness skills in horticulture with selected few remaining at the PASS-AIC centre in SUA to undertake special mentorship and coaching on areas such as business management, book-keeping, cash flow management, marketing, quality control, scanning of the business environment, and regulatory issues among others.
They incubators are also exposed to market challenges to learn how to deal with price fluctuations. At the TALIRI Centre in Kongwa, incubates get mentorship on goat fattening for business.
Aaron Mwambaghi, a graduate from Sokoine University of Agriculture says before he joined the AIC, he was a small entrepreneur where he was selling boiled corn in the streets.
“But, after a while, I was pushed to apply for the opportunity to join the center by my interest in both agriculture and entrepreneurship, something which I have wished to do in my life. Though I learned about agriculture during my time in the university, at AIC, I have learned extensively, particularly on environment controlled agriculture, which provides a chance to continue with activities and production during calamities such as floods.”
He says: “After my time in the center, I am looking forward to employing myself in the agriculture sector, and have my way up, as one of the most successful business personnel in the country”.
“As a fourth born in my family, I decided to venture into agriculture so that I show the way that others have not ventured into. Here at PASS-AIC, I am doing horticulture where I grow bell pepper. This is a good opportunity for my fellow youth to get mentorship in horticulture and agribusiness. After my time here, I will start my own horticulture business,” says Janeth Raymond
A 29-year-old Theo Kasulugila from Kongwa District also views these centres as redeemer as it has changed his life completely.
“Before joining this program at Kongwa, I was rearing goats and chicken but with many challenges that almost made me quit. When I saw the opportunity to join AIC Kongwa, I grabbed it so that I get to solve my problems. Indeed, I have gotten skills on how to fatten and determine the quality of goats before I can purchase. I have also learned some of the best feeding methods that give quality goats,” he says.
“After my time at AIC- Kongwa, I plan to sell quality beef as well as other livestock business. I am better now,” he says, lauding PASS for establishing those centres.
According to PASS Managing Director Nicomed Bohay, the mentorship and coaching is aimed at creating successful and sustainable agribusinesses around the country for youths to generate wealth and create employment.
“We are helping the government in dealing with the problem of youth employment in the country. We know that over 800,000 youth are churned out of the universities and institutions of higher learning and have no jobs,” says Bohay.
The two fully operational youth agribusiness incubators are established in Morogoro town—for horticulture production and Mbande village in Kongwa District—for livestock-keeping and meat processing) with initial total capacity of 60 incubation units.
In 2019, the first batch of 18 youth incubators successfully exited from AIC Morogoro. Fourteen of who are now AIC’s no-wall clients receiving further support to establish their businesses in their own locations. During 2019/20, a further 60 youths are under incubation for a one-year period.
“We have however noted the demand and we are trying as much as possible to expand so that we can reach as many youths as possible,” Bohay adds.
According to PASS, additional four agribusiness incubators are at a different planning and development stages, with planned initial total capacity of 150 units. Building works at the Zanzibar incubators (agro-processing) is underway and expected to start incubation activity from mid-2020.
The Tanga-based incubators which deals with dairy farming and milk processing are also at the early building stages, the official says.
Bohay says the AIC walled incubators are open to both male and female youths aged between 18 and 35, with any education background and from any part of the country.
Once selected to join the centre, the youth are provided with a complete agribusiness unit that includes capital asset, equipment/facilities, inputs and working capital and allowed to operate for a specific period, under specific professional instructions.
According to Bohay, at the end of the period, the youth who has successfully managed the unit is further facilitated by AIC to relocate the business at his own premises, is assisted to access commercial finance from banks, and provided with support to grow and expand his/her business.
This year alone, the official says at least 140 more youths are set to join the centres and continue with the 12-month long program of entrepreneurship coaching and mindset transformation on horticulture and goat rearing for business.
Bohay said that the priority is given to entrepreneurs involved in greenhouse production, fish breeding, poultry, goats, processing and small-scale production of agricultural products for domestic and overseas markets.
Through AIC department, PASS has developed this program after seeing many graduates who want to involve themselves in agribusiness and entrepreneurship failed to do so mostly due to lack of capital and training.
In scaling up the fight against poverty through agro-processing, PASS has established a youth agro-processing incubator in Zanzibar.
PASS came into existence in 2000 in order to stimulate investment and growth in commercial agriculture and related