Sowing the seeds o...

Photo: Agribusiness Stakeholder Workshop in Nepal

Sowing the seeds of enterprise in Nepal

Officials call for agribusiness support at infoDev workshop

An infoDev-led workshop in Kathmandu, Nepal drew over 70 entrepreneurs, government officials, and other stakeholders last month. Beyond sharing knowledge on agribusiness incubation, the meeting gave attendees a platform to shape the visioning for a possible Agribusiness Innovation Center (AIC) in the country.

The workshop was held in partnership with the World Bank’s Project for Agriculture Commercialization and Trade (PACT) under the Ministry of Agriculture Development, in coordination with the World Bank Group, and with funding from Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.

AICs will offer emerging agro-entrepreneurs a full array of business support services, such as business development, mentoring, and access to facilities, equipment, finance and networks. The centers are designed to empower smallholding farmers and growth-oriented ventures to capture a larger slice of agribusiness value chains and create jobs in their local environments.

Simply put, AICs aim to help developing nations go from exporting cocoa beans to shipping chocolate bars.

The workshop was opened by the Project Director for PACT, Mr. Yogendra Kumar Karki, who stressed that the government of Nepal realizes the great development promise of agribusiness and remains committed to supporting agriculture-based development programs.

Mr. Jaya Mukunda Khanal, Nepal’s Secretary of Agriculture Development, chaired the workshop. He encouraged participants to share strategies and priorities which could strengthen the possible AIC.

“PACT could be one of the organizations through which the Government can establish business incubation in a public private partnership modality,” Mr. Khanal said, noting that the Nepalese government must prioritize agribusiness in order to achieve double-digit growth.

The sector’s unique development potential rests on its short timeline for generating revenues and the willingness of large firms to invest in agribusiness ventures, Mr. Khanal explained. In closing, he reaffirmed his commitment to advocate for the AIC with the government of Nepal.

The workshop also addressed potential institutional arrangements for the center, relevant roles and responsibilities, a viable business model, and service providers and service offerings to entrepreneurs.

There are currently four finished business models for AICs in Africa. The facilities are slated to launch in 2013.

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