Rural advisory services can best fulfil their role of working with agripreneurs in environments where some coordination and exchange already takes place between actors in the agricultural innovation system. This is particularly the case within the pluralistic RAS landscape. A conducive and supportive business environment, including necessary policies and investments, also helps RAS to strengthen agripreneurship. Of course, RAS should work with agripreneurs based on demand – not only due to the partnership approach, but also because the agripreneurs’ own motivation, ownership, and commitment is crucial for success. Working in communities where successful agripreneurs already serve as role models can certainly be an advantage, but is not a hindering factor.
No single advisory service, public or private, has all the skills needed by agripreneurs. This new type of client is not passive, and they will require the best advice available from a range of different sources. Success in supporting agripreneurs will therefore come from RAS teams that are able to identify needs, coordinate links between different sources of expertise, and support networking between service providers. This process will require RAS to be agile and flexible in terms of how they help agripreneurs access the right types of services and mentoring, at the right time. The evidence to date shows that this new role will improve RAS policies and support overall RAS pluralism. Innovation platforms can also play an important role in facilitating better coordination among actors, leading to more demand-driven service delivery to farmers and other value chain actors.
Evidence of impacts, sustainability, and scalability
Recent studies show that agricultural entrepreneurship can have a profound impact on business growth and survival (4)