Friday, December 9, 2011

5 Must-have Skills Sets For Youth in Farming or Agriculture

Five skill sets youth in farming must have
This from an extensive research study conducted by Catholic Relief Services and Ciat which involved interviewing 40 farmer groups with over 1000 members on 3 different continents.

The 5 skill sets which are important for running a successful agricultural business are discussed in their  video below.

The 5 important skills sets are:
  1. Group management, 
  2. Savings and financial management, 
  3. Basic business and marketing, 
  4. Technology and Innovation
  5. Natural resource management for sustainable production 
Preparing Farmer Groups to Engage Successfully with Markets, which is a comprehensive report covering all the 5 skill sets in agriculture is can be download from the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) website.


Notes from the five skill sets video above

What skills might you need if you started an agricultural business?

  1. Group organization management
  2. For a small farmer groups 20 - 25 people. If they are going to stay together and manage themselves effectively over time, they need adhere to the principles of good self governance, and they need to be able to set and achieve common objectives.

  3. Savings and financial management, 
  4. Very vital for individuals and groups to successfully move out of poverty.
    Individuals within a group contribute small amounts of money on a regular basis to a group savings fund, and when that fund grows and give each other small loans to individuals within the group.

    The poor face adversity everyday, in an emergency,  for instance when the child falls sick, they either need money on credit or they need to sell off their assets such as chickens, goats or crops.

    Obviously, If they regularly sell off their assets, they can never accumulate enough assets to move out of poverty.

    So access to savings and credit provide an absolutely vital buffer  While they are saving and managing their funds in these  groups, they are also learning alot about other vital important financial skills.

  5. Basic business and marketing skills
  6. Important if people are going to engage effectively with markets.

    In addition to basic numeracy and book keeping skills, group members need to be able to identify what are real and authentic market opportunities within their area and they also need to understand the value chains associated with those commodities in-order to understand the best entry points for them and their group.

  7. Technology and Innovation
  8. As soon as the groups become involved in business, they understand that they need to access and apply new technology.

    They immediately need to improve the productivity, profitability and often their product quality in order to stay competitive.

    They need to know where to access the relevant information within their communities, how to systematically evaluate that technology, decide what is most relevant within their system and how to apply those innovations within their system to achieve the results they want.

    One thing to consider within this process, is the potential power of the Internet.

  9. Natural resource management for sustainable production 
  10. Everyone is aware that Natural resources are disappearing very rapidly especially in rural areas of the developing world.

    Forests and trees, water resources, soil and soil fertility are all in rapid decline and when they are gone, so are the potential livelihoods of rural populations.

    Rural communities have a great need to understand the principles and methods for protecting the productivity of their existing resources and even better to enhance the productivity of natural resources available to them.

    When they understand the principles of natural resource management, and options that are available, they can work with those to design their own systems. Often the potential to improve livelihoods this way is often enormous.

Benefits from combining all the 5 skill sets in agriculture;

  • Increases in volume of 4 fold of product sold
  • Increase in price received for product, 30 -50%
  • Increase in number of participants in the collective marketing process, from 5000 to more than 9000 farmers
  • Increases in sales, new farmer groups negotiated better sales for their produce.
More on the benefits of the 5 skills sets in agriculture, the report How a Savings-led Microfinance has Improved Chickpea Marketing in the Lake Zone of Tanzania provides more insight. 
"..The Chickenpea production and marketing study at how savings-led microfinance has helped farmer groups in Tanzania successfully address the challenges they face."

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