Economic realities, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have forced many people to return to the rural communities from our cities as well as from abroad. The problems associated with this ‘reverse migration’ can be turned into opportunities if we can engage these people in local economic activities quickly. The development of agricultural entrepreneurs can be the most feasible solution here. In line with the government’s goal for employment creation, rural youths and reverse migrants should be empowered to be entrepreneurs. Thus they can be self-employed and create jobs for other people in the rural economy. The creation of a specialized not-for-profit Foundation for agri-entrepreneurs can boost this process significantly.
As an economy, we are looking for alternative export goods to diversify beyond Ready-Made Garments (RMG). With the fertile land and huge labor force, agriculture can take a major role in this. For that, we need more enterprising people who can become entrepreneurs in agriculture. However, creating more entrepreneurs for agriculture requires training, resources, and fund. The Agri-Entrepreneur Foundation (AEF) can create an eco-system for the aspiring entrepreneurs to ensure these for them. Traditional money lending from micro-credit organizations and other foundations has its own drawbacks. The interests are high and the process is complicated. They also lack in providing specialized support for agri-entrepreneurs. Moreover, loan from banks for these new entrepreneurs requires extensive paperwork and other requirements. Hence, getting a loan for marginal entrepreneurs from commercial banks and non-bank financial institutions is difficult. AEF can provide low-cost funds to solve the equity problem and to promote agri-entrepreneurship. The funding initiative can be done in two ways. It can be disbursed directly to the potential entrepreneur. Alternatively, fund can be given to agribusinesses company, they will sell inputs, machinery, and other goods to these entrepreneurs in credit. AEF can also arrange training and other resources required by the agri-entrepreneurs. Starting businesses with agricultural input, and machinery can be a way to start their entrepreneurial journey. Besides, they can start small agri- processing factories, vegetable orchard, poultry, aqua, dairy, meat production, agri-machineries, street food shop, agri-processing cottage industry locally. AEF will also support them with technology and innovative business models. Thus, a comprehensive ecosystem, which is currently missing in the agriculture sector, can be formed through AEF which will connect all the interested stakeholders under one umbrella foundation.
Dr. F H Ansarey
Managing Director & CEO