The first place that we visited during the field trip was a chicken farm run by a family who had hired people from the community to work at the farm. They supply chicken to local markets. The investment comes from their savings.
Secondly we visited a fish farmer, the business model is slightly different from the chicken farm. The fish business was started by one family in the community who had land ready for developing the fish pond. A few families then came together to start the business as shareholders who share labor, investment cost, and profit. They have a good basic marketing system and sell fish to the town nearby ( about 2-3 hours from Limbe). They always get technical support on production from agriculture extension workers but not yet on maketing. Currently they are doing very well with their business therefore they have started to expand their production area (fish pond) on their shareholder’s land to upscale their production.
Snail for Life is the third group that we visited. A group of women has formed in a church community by sharing the same faith and goal. The group had set up with a goal to increase income for vulnerable women who have limited access to healthcare. The group started the business with donations and loans from women in the community. They started with barbecued snails, selling on local market, while now they are producing dried snail to export via church connections.
Lastly, we visited Marine College (Fishery), the brand new college that will be focusing on boat/ferry operation and fishery equipment operation. There are available lap, classrooms, library, computer room and dormitory for students. The first batch is going to start early next year.
Through the study tours, I have learned that there are entrepreneurs and new innovation where there are markets. There is no fix business model for agribusiness but it needs a leader/entrepreneur who takes a lead with the aim to change lives for better. Once the business started in the right place or access to the right market, the new innovation will be automatically developed by entrepreneurs.
A successful business model doesn’t have to always start as a group but it needs a strong leaders. In order to run group business it needs a high commitment, share vision and fair share of benefits as an engine to drive the business in the long run.
Entrepreneurs quickly digest information and make use of it if they have access to useful resources. Agriculture technical support is very important for production but more important is market linkage and financial support (seed money) for startup phase and upscale phase.
The study tour confirmed many discussed topics during the 7th GFRAS meeting that rural advisory service needs to be inclusive based on the need of beneficiaries and market demand.