The greatest thing that has ever happened to Young People, Agriculture and Entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe... The Agripreneurship Summit 2013!
I was sitting in a building called The Engineering Workshop at Zimbabwe’s Harare Institute of Technology. However, at the same time, I was surrounded by the aura of a Grandeur Arena similar to that of a place of great authority such as a Kings Palace; where every word spoken seems powerful beyond measure; where one can actually touch and feel the power that resonates in words of confidence and words of great vision. Yes it sounds irregular and unconventional, being in an Engineer's Workshop and feeling the proud and electric energy of young agricultural leaders and entrepreneurs resonating in the background. Sitting in that environment I knew and I felt that the future belongs to the youth of Africa. Believe me, there is nothing conventional about what I am talking about; nothing is, nothing has been, and nothing ever will be conventional about the Agripreneurship Summit! You don’t even find the word “Agripreneurship” in the dictionary and that’s just what makes it!
From the 10th to the 12th of December 2013, the Zimbabwe Farmers Union has been running the inaugural Youth Agripreneurship Summit 2013. By the way, ever since I have opened this blog, I have changed the name of the blog a dozen times to try and explain what it is we really want to achieve. After a variety of names came up, I realized at the end of the day, that all the issues I am discussing, all this Barefoot mindset and philosophy we have been working on with other scholars at our organization, BEAT, for years is all about ways of finding or defining the sustainability of development in Africa, and hence from today, I have called the blog, “A Long Walk to the Sustainability of Development in Africa… The Barefoot Principle”. And of course, I have been inspired by the courage, boldness and resolve of the Great African legend Nelson Mandela's "Long Walk to Freedom." May he rest in eternal peace.
Refocusing on the Agripreneurship Summit, the Barefoot Education for Afrika Trust (BEAT) was invited to the Youth Agripreneurship Summit as a strategic and potential knowledge partner. Barefoot Professor Mandi Rukuni gave the Keynote Speech and the atmosphere was electric as young people itched and boiled with the eagerness to take on the challenges of agriculture and entrepreneurship. BEAT believes that partnering in any way, with initiatives that engage the Youth effectively into agriculture is essential to completing the Long Walk to the Sustainability of Development in Africa, and hence a crucial part of the Barefoot story.
One of the most radical things about the Summit, is the unconventional and non-traditional way that the Agripreneurship Summit has been launched and organized. Of course, a few bolts and nuts will need to be tightened but this is the first time ever, I have seen the youth in Zimbabwe keenly involved and enthusiastically engaged in agriculture, with a voice that is shouting, “We wanna do this!!!” The use of Open Space Technology gave young people the room to say their views and feelings unapologetically.
The overall theme of the Summit was, “Breaking the Barriers” and the first barrier that has been broken in Zimbabwe over the past few days of this summit is the socio-cultural misconception and barrier of inequality that has always side-lined the voice and opinion of young people and especially young women. It was a touching and eye opening experience as young girls talked about their challenges regarding critical issues such as access to land and capital.
Perhaps most of our readers and followers might not understand, but it is not conventional in Africa and more evidently in Zimbabwe, for the young people to confidently voice their opinions with regards to strategically important issues such as agriculture and in particular land. Well to “statisize” this statement, the Human Development Reports over the years assert that the rates of inequality of income, resources/assets, health and education in Sub Saharan Africa are among the highest in the world. In 2010, the ten countries in Africa with the highest Inequality adjusted Human Development Indicator (IHDI) were: Gabon, Tunisia, Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Ghana, Namibia, Congo, Swaziland, and Kenya. It is glad to note that Zimbabwe was among the ten countries with the lowest IHDI in the same period and the Youth Agripreneurship has been testimony to this.
I will not take the limelight from the Young Farmers’ Agrpreneurship Summit. For more information, visit their Facebook Page by simply clicking this link https://www.facebook.com/ZFUYoungFarmersClubs