The Agri-Business Incubation (ABI) Program under ICRISAT’s Agribusiness and Innovation Platform (AIP) has facilitated the establishment of the first ever full-fledged agribusiness incubator in West Africa. The West African Agri-Business Resource Incubator (WAARI) was officially inaugurated on 23 January in the Selingue province of Mali.
WAARI is one of the six agribusiness incubators being established under the Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN) project of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), in which ABI is the handholding and mentoring partner. The incubator was inaugurated by Professor Moustapha Dick Monsieur, Minister of Science and Technology, Government of Mali, in the presence of Dr William Dar, Director General of ICRISAT.
Dr Dar congratulated the FARA-UniBRAIN project team, ABI and the team of WAARI for establishing this agribusiness incubator and emphasized on the importance of agribusiness incubation in promoting entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Public-Private Partnerships hold the key for activating the IMOD strategy in order to replicate and scale-up the benefits of technology interventions and science-based solutions for millions of smallholder farmers. One of the best ways of achieving this is to promote entrepreneurship in the agricultural sector. Agribusiness incubation creates agro-enterprises and jobs which ultimately benefit the smallholder farmers,” Dr Dar said.
Dr Dar also interacted with several entrepreneurs and urged them to efficiently utilize the services and facilities of WAARI. Products from women cooperative groups of WAARI were on display at the event.
Dr Kiran Sharma, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), AIP-ICRISAT congratulated Dr Ibrahim Togola, CEO, WAARI and his team for their contributions in establishing the incubator. He assured the team and UniBRAIN that AIP and its component programs were committed towards providing full support and services in facilitating the establishment and successfully operating all incubators in the project.
ICRISAT’s ABI Program also organized a one-day training program on Seed Business Incubation (SBI) on 21 January for seed entrepreneurs in the Selingue province with support from ICRISAT scientists from West and Central Africa.
The scientists provided technical inputs in seed production to the seed entrepreneurs. The objective of this training program was to promote and enhance the capacity of farmers, farmer intermediaries and seed entrepreneurs on seed production business. A unique methodology involving technical awareness, scientific inputs and sessions was adopted for this workshop.
During the training program Mr SM Karuppanchetty, Chief Operating Officer, ABI and Mr R Bhubesh Kumar, Deputy Manager, ABI emphasized on the importance of the SBI Program in bridging the demand and supply gap in the seed industry. They also explained how the program could create a system which will replicate itself in supplying seeds to more number of farmers, thereby creating an impact and making it a business venture for the rural entrepreneurs, thus, promoting entrepreneurship in the areas of agribusiness.