You do not need to review the research to know that agricultural markets across the world have seen a massive change. Sadly, local markets which used to be the main stay are no longer as strong or important as they used to be. The same is also true of national markets as there is an increasing move towards a global market system. However, recently, we are beginning to see the resurgence of local, smaller agricultural producers, growers, and food farms.
Agripreneurs are Fighting Back
Today’s food producers wherever they are in the production chain need to understand how to commercialise, how to increase production whilst remaining environmentally sustainable and how to increase productivity. The solution to the problem is entrepreneurship – they need to become entrepreneurs. Today’s food producers need to adopt an agripreneurship model. By doing so, they can create local clusters and collaborations enabling them to increase their production as a synergy and not as individual food producers. They need to create value chains of connected stakeholders working together to add more value to their products.
By developing value chains, they can increase efficiency, productivity and competitiveness by linking the stakeholders, and food producers, to processors and markets. They also need to embrace new approaches by reaching out to other stakeholders such as suppliers, logistics and distribution firms, financial services and even retailers. These changes call for a new type of entrepreneur – the ‘agripreneur’.
How to be an Agripreneur
To find ways to increase production is not difficult, what is more challenging is to change the mindset of an ‘agripreneur’. To survive and thrive as a food producer needs the owners and managers to think and behave like entrepreneurs. An agripreneur needs to understand how to provides goods or services that add value and contribute to generating a profit – this means understanding financial management and planning.
They also need to understand how marketing works to establish a strong presence in the market and to present their value proposition to customers. They need to understand how digital marketing can help in creating a strong ‘digital footprint’ and market presence.
Innovation and continuous improvement are also keys element of agripreneurship. Enterprises need to be able to innovate and develop new products and solutions to problems. They also need to understand how to engage and motivate teams and individuals to make everything happen.
The Erasmus+ project, Sustainable Agripreneurship, known as SustainAgri, aims to address many of the needs of today’s agripreneurs. In the first phase of this two-year project, the seven project partners Exponential Training (UK), CZU Prague (Czech Republic), 8D Games (Netherlands), Center for education and innovation (Greece); Dekaplus (Cyprus); Trebag (Hungary) and Youth Europe Service (Italy) will create a new training programme. This will be piloted alongside a new Serious Game which will help to bring the learning to life.
The Serious Game and training course will be available late 2021/early 2022. At this point, each partner will recruit local aspiring and current agripreneurs to test the new learning tools. The project will conclude with a series of national conferences to share the results and impact of the project.
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