I am Dumisani Kananza, from Lilongwe Malawi, a Renewable Energy engineer graduate from Mzuzu university with a passion for agribusiness and entrepreneurship and an influencer.
EXPERIENCE AS A YOUTH IN THE AGRICULTURE SECTOR
More than 50% of the population of African countries is below the age of 25. Most of these countries are faced with high youth unemployment levels, poverty and hunger. According to the African Development Bank, 60% of Africans live in rural areas and such areas depend overwhelmingly on agriculture for livelihoods.
In a report by the World Bank, Africa's food market to be Worth US $1 trillion in just 15 years to come. Currently, Africa spends about US $60 billion on food imports each year, benefiting producers outsidecthe continent. 80% of the farming in Africa is done on subsistence basis and the majority involved are the elderly. We have the largest, most vibrant group of young people yet jobs have to be created for over 250 million of them. Interestingly, Africa has over 60% of the world's arable land and so transforming the agriculture sector and taking it as a business, not just to feed ourselves and families but proving that we indeed are the world's food basket is the solution to ending hunger and poverty and in so doing, creating jobs for the youth.
In Malawi, 85% of the groundnuts is produced by smallholder farmers who are characterized by having limited processing capacity, poor storage facilities and low levels of mechanisation. These farmers also lack access to quality markets that offer better prices for their produce. Apart from that, most of the groundnuts produced have aflatoxin levels above the acceptable value due to lack of knowledge in Good Agriculture Practices and Good Storage Practices amongst the farmers. Since quality and food safety starts from the farm, the high aflatoxin levels are also present in value added products such as groundnut flour and peanut butter in the value chain. In providing a solution, I together with my cofounder did set up a company called Blue Cloud Limited with a focus on value addition to agro produce. The company is 3 years old and we exist to transform the nation's health by providing highly nutritious foods, taking maximum advantage of the country's agro endowments. Our vision is to become a leading producer of highly nutritious foods. As of date, our main product is peanut butter, branded Lian Smooth Peanut Butter. We link with our farmers who are youth and women through the National Smallholder Farmers Association in Malawi (NASFAM), and the association trains the farmers in good agriculture practices and aflatoxin control. We have managed to set up a peanut butter processing factory and we are working on getting the product certified by the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS).
MAJOR SUCCESS STORIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
I do consider the successful product development process of coming up with the Lian Peanut Butter brand and product that meets the customers needs as a major success. Our value proposition makes the product standout and the product is doing well on the market, with a lot of traction and a very good customer base. I got featured on the entrepreneur’s page in one of the leading newspapers here in Malawi, The Nation, as a result of my entrepreneurial journey.
In 2016, I got selected and I did attend the Standardization, Quality assurance, Accreditation and Metrology (SQAM) workshop which was organized by SADC and was held in Maseru, Lesotho. This gave me an opportunity to interact with stakeholders and players from the food sectors from other SADC countries and Gabe me a chance to share my views and learn from others. After the workshop, I was selected to attend a training that was offered by the Malawi Bureau of Standards in Food Safety Management Systems based on ISO 22000 and ISO/TS 22002-1 which I successfully completed and got certified. In addition, I also attended a training on Global Food Safety Initiative based on local sourcing for partnerships project, Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) implementation which was organized by the COMESA Business Council. The project train we, agriprenuers in HACCP as a tool in enhancing partnerships with supermarkets and hotels. The knowledge I gained through these trainings has helped me a lot in setting up a factory that complies to the requirements of the Malawi Bureau of Standards.
Another achievement this far is my participation in the Building Bridges Road to Nairobi 2016 Project which aimed at promoting youth led innovative businesses across east and southern Africa. Lian Peanut Butter got selected among the top ten businesses in Malawi and we got a full page feature in the book that was published there after about the entrepreneurs selected, and this got me a feature on the Humans of my world page. The project noted our contribution to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals namely; zero hunger, descent work and economic growth, industry, innovation and infrastructure, reduced inequalities and responsible consumption and production. The ministry of industry, trade and tourism also recognized the work I am doing such that they gave me opportunity to display my product with all expenses paid by them at the international trade fair in Blantyre, Malawi. This experience connected me to more customers and international export Ready markets awaiting the certification of the product.
This year, I successfully completed the Disrupt!Food! Training which focused on training entrepreneurs to re-think, re-shape, innovate and scale the disruptive capacities of their businesses for a more sustainable agri-food system. Through the training, I have learnt how to develop a business plan based on the Business Canvas Model, access to finance and to prepare a pitch and present it to potential investors. This gas enabled me to open a you tube channel where my pitch presentation about Lian Peanut Butter has been uploaded and can be viewed anytime. In December last year, I was voted as the best young entrepreneur of the year for aflatoxin control in peanut butter production and cleanliness at factory premises by the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises in Malawi (NASME). The association also appointed me as its youth ambassador.
With these achievements, I applied for a Masters Degree in Agribusiness Management at the Rome Business School and I have been offered a place for the October intake, on a partial scholarship basis.
I have also participated in the initial training workshop on the use of the FAO/WHO draft tool to assess national food control systems which was held in Lilongwe, Malawi in November 2017. Ms Catherine Bessy, food safety and quality officer from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations facilitated the training. Currently, I am part of 18 entrepreneurs who got selected by the African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) here in Malawi for a project called Young Innovative Farmer which focuses on linking upcoming agriprenuers to already established ones to network and learn from them.
Blue Cloud Limited has created jobs for ten youth and women this far. We have a Facebook page for our Lian Peanut Butter product which I run and use to interact with our customers and get feedback as well us promoting the product and boosting sales. I have managed to write two successful matching grant proposals one for the African Development Bank in collaboration with the Ministry of industry, trade and tourism her in Malawi and the other for giz also here in Malawi.
WHAT THE RWANDA YOUTH CONFERENCE SHOULD ADRESS
In terms of youth employment and entrepreneurship, what systems and mechanisms have been put in place , for example Tech Hubs in ICT where people learn how to code, web development, to to equip the youth in agribusiness with skills and knowledge to take up agriculture and drive significant change in various value chains as a tool for job creation for fellow youth and what other support structures have been developed in order to help them find funding for their ventures and ideas and how to run the ventures as well? Any plans for an Africa youth bank for the continent and in countries which can provide soft loans? How can youth cooperatives enhance entrepreneurship across the continent? What steps are being taking towards industrialization I'm the agriculture sector?
In terms of digital innovation to overcome value chains, my question is what innovations are being created and promoted or need to be created or promoted to enable and enhance the interaction of farmers, processors, regulators and traders, supermarkets in the various value chains in the agriculture sector, what marketing tools and marketing platforms, and linkages are being used? How can we take advantage of mobile money platforms in enhancing productivity, and access to information, how can we take advantage of drones in farming for pest control, increase in production and product delivery? How can we use ICT in hydroponics as a tool for improving data availability in the agriculture sector?
In terms of the future work in rural economy, my question is what business models are being implemented to improve the profitability of the farming and agribusiness in rural communities, what inclusive models are being adopted and created to fit the rural community set up? What is being done to make these models viable enough in creating jobs and mitigating urban migration among the youth from rural areas? Can we adopt the Spader web doctrine and also run each community as a federal system to promote development?
Thanks for providing this platform that I can share my experiences and views in the agriculture sector and I look forward to taking part in this important meeting. I believe that when my factory is certified, I will be able to create over 100 jobs for young people and provide a market for youth and women farmers I'm the value chain, thereby improving their standard of life.