There is a lot of questions as to why young people do not get involved in agriculture. Many reasons have been shared in different forums. The most common? Young people find agriculture boring, a layman’s job and does not bring profits.

I have worked in the agribusiness field for over 6 years. I have also enjoyed co-founding an initiative; Project Agribusiness Hub for young Leaders (Aghub). And most recently serving with the International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC). I have learnt that there are several young people who are changing the face of agriculture and making it “sexy”, as one young woman, Tamara Kaunda, put it during an agricultural summit in Zambia – .

These young people are more than just engaging in agriculture – but turning agriculture into a business.

It is no longer boring to them, it is more than just farming. It is about taking a produce, processing it and making sure it is ready for consumption. It is about creating a voice and platform where young agripreneurs interact, learn best practices, gain access to new markets and financing; and strengthening each other. – A new way to think about “Youth in Agribusiness.”

Today I highlight one young man whom I had the pleasure of talking with. Lameck Matiki, aged 24 from Malawi, who is currently in Israel for a one-year agriculture training, started his agribusiness in 2018 when he was in college by growing different vegetables. In 2020 he then ventured into mushroom.

What is your business name, and what sector does it operate?

The name of my business is Smart Sprout, operating under the Horticulture Sector. My business partner is Winnie Chimwala.

What inspired you to venture into agribusiness?

  • Increased local demand for Oyster Mushroom yet there are no local producers who can fill the gap to the required quality and quantity. That inspired me to venture into agribusiness by producing, supplying, and doing production consultations.

What do you produce?

  • Mushroom 
  • Mushroom Spawn
  • Other Horticultural Crops eg Banana Suckers Multiplication, lettuce, green pepper  

How did you raise the funding for your business?

  • Initially from stipend received after doing college attachments
  • Consultations
  • Selling the products and re-investing  

Have your priorities changed since venturing into agribusiness?

  • My priorities have not changed, only seeking other opportunities within the business. 

What challenges do you face as a young agripreneur?

  • Lack of access to finances to boost the enterprise.
  • Lack of trust by different stake holders on various projects because of a generation which is there that youths are notorious.
  • Exploitation from investors. They tend to take big shares of the enterprise when they have invested little and sometimes with little interest in how the business is fairing. 

What do you enjoy most about your own company?

  • My company is innovative. We adapt to various stresses that we encounter and find alternatives.

How do you generate ideas for your company?

  • The ideas are generated from the gaps that are being discovered along the operations that we do,
  • Are also generated to fill the existing market within and abroad.

Is there anything you wish you would have done differently since venturing into agribusiness?

  • So far, the only passion I have is in agribusiness management.
  • As part of diversification, I have interest in Landscape design, maintain ace and implementation, which shall encompass flower production and management (floriculture)

What opportunities do you think are in agriculture that other young people can tap into?

  • Poultry production
  • Spices and herbs production
  • Fruit production and processing. 

What advice would you give to any youth thinking of getting into agriculture?

I would like to encourage them being an agripreneur and venturing into agribusiness is a plus, they should not wait to grow old and start farming—the time is now. They should make use of each available resource and opportunity.

Lameck conducting a training on how to plant (inoculate) mushrooms, to workers for one farmer based in NRC, Lilongwe.

Photo credit: Owen Mangani