Navigating the Business of Agriculture: Strategies for Modern Agripreneurs

The business of agriculture has experienced many changes over the last few decades. World population is expected to reach 9.8 billion people by 2050, which is causing the industry to implement cutting-edge technologies to provide enough fuel, food and fibre.

Innovation and new technologies have taken the industry by storm to increase production and combat rising global challenges such as wars, pandemics, climate change, droughts and more. Modern agripreneurs and agriculture experts work together to develop businesses, products, and determine market access strategies.

The Food and Agriculture of the United Nations (FAO) recognizes the need to encourage agripreneurs. Targeting young people, this initiative seeks to offer education, incentives and support to young people starting agricultural businesses. While the business of agriculture is multi-faceted, here are some key strategies for modern agripreneurs.

What is an Agripreneur

An “agripreneur” is a term that combines “agriculture” and “entrepreneur.” It refers to an individual who is involved in the business side of farming or agriculture. This could include anything from farming and livestock management to the marketing and selling of agricultural products. Agripreneurs often bring innovative techniques, technologies, or business strategies to the agricultural sector, contributing to its modernisation and efficiency.

What Skills Does an Agripreneur Need to Succeed?

To succeed as an agripreneur, one needs a combination of agricultural knowledge, business acumen, and soft skills. Here are some key skills:

  1. Agricultural Knowledge: A deep understanding of farming practices, crop cycles, livestock management, and sustainable agriculture is crucial. This includes knowledge of modern farming techniques and technologies.
  2. Business Acumen: Like any entrepreneur, an agripreneur needs to understand the basics of running a business. This includes financial management, marketing, sales, and strategic planning.
  3. Innovation: The ability to innovate and adapt to changing circumstances is vital. This could mean implementing new farming technologies, developing new products, or finding new markets for products.
  4. Problem-Solving Skills: Agriculture often involves dealing with unpredictable factors such as weather and market fluctuations. The ability to solve problems and make decisions under uncertainty is therefore crucial.
  5. Communication Skills: Agripreneurs often need to negotiate with suppliers, communicate with customers, or work with employees and partners. Strong communication skills are therefore essential.
  6. Resilience: Farming can be a challenging business with many ups and downs. The ability to stay resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks is important.
  7. Environmental Stewardship: An understanding of sustainable farming practices and a commitment to environmental stewardship can also be beneficial, especially as consumers and regulators increasingly demand environmentally friendly practices.
  8. Technical Skills: Depending on the nature of the agribusiness, technical skills such as understanding agricultural machinery, irrigation systems, or biotechnology could be important.
  9. Networking Skills: Building relationships with other farmers, suppliers, customers, and agricultural experts can provide valuable opportunities and insights.
  10. Leadership Skills: If the agribusiness has employees, leadership skills are needed to manage and motivate the team effectively.

These skills can be developed through a combination of formal education, on-the-job experience, and continuous learning.

Business Model and Strategies

Becoming an agripreneur starts with a novel concept or idea and seeing that product through until it is launched successfully into the market. Working alongside agriculture experts while developing a successful business model will accelerate the development of a product and help avoid pitfalls.

Developing an action plan, conducting audits and surveys, and thoroughly assessing products to validate their efficacy is crucial. Including key leaders and having accountability should be part of the business model. Putting these strategies in place at the beginning of product development will help ensure future success.

Develop the Product

Many challenges can present themselves in the product development phase, so it is important to recognize and mitigate challenges early. Working with agriculture experts can help take the product from idea through feasibility, formulation, testing, safety, marketing and finally sales.

Engaging with investors is another important strategy during the product development phase. This not only provides the necessary funds for a new product, but also it can speed up the product development process and help agribusinesses make meaningful connections with industry leaders. Finally, identifying best management practices during the product development phase will help farmers, agronomists and dealers effectively use and sell a new product.

Business planning at a desk

Plan for Market Development

The goal for agripreneurs is to see their product reach market and make a positive impact on the agriculture industry. While bringing a product to market may seem like a distant thought when initially developing a business model and strategies, with the help of seasoned agriculture experts, a successful product launch is achievable.

A market development plan involves defining unmet needs of producers, defining market channels, becoming knowledgeable of competitors, providing product training and communicating the product’s ability to support food security and sustainability.

Final Thoughts

With the technological shift in the farming industry, farmers are more willing to try new products. Agripreneurs are encouraged to develop technologies, systems and machinery to help raise the productivity of the industry.

Developing a business model along with a plan for product development and commercialization with the help of agriculture experts are key strategies for modern agripreneurs. Continually evaluating a product and proving its value to the agriculture industry will accelerate products into a reality for the large- and small-scale agribusiness around the world.

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