HAS University Student Assignment | Nursery for Human Capital

The horticulture sector in East Africa is full of potential: it delivers healthy vegetables and fruits, as well as opportunities for jobs and economic development. One of the key challenges many horticulture companies face is the need to further strengthen human capacities in the sector, for staff, future staff as well as for the other entrepreneurs they work with: “Getting the basics right” is one of the cornerstones of horticulture sector development.

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Three students from HAS University of Applied Sciences recently completed an action-oriented study in support of a collaborative capacity strengthening initiative by Rijk Zwaan, HAS, and a group of horticulture companies, which NFP supports. The students’ assignment, entitled ‘Nursery for human capital’, was to search for specific knowledge gaps within horticulture companies and their daughter companies in East Africa, as well as explore a potential business model for joint action. Their outcome report provides relevant insights for the collaborative initiative.

Some of the findings of ‘Nursery for Human Capital’ are:

  • There is a clear need to increase practice-based skills development;
  • Capacity strengthening in the horticulture sector needs to foster both technical knowledge and skills (e.g. good agricultural practices, integrated pest management) and soft skills (e.g. management skills, problem solving, women and youth empowerment);
  • Collaboration is needed between the private sector and education sector, as well as with other knowledge actors, making sure that graduate students are well prepared for their careers in private companies. This implies updated education curricula, using practice-oriented teaching methods, and using the latest equipment in education. National government needs to be engaged as partner in the improvement of the agri-educational system;
  • Long-term approaches are necessary for impact;
  • Building a critical mass based on non-competitive collaborative action by several actors;

Based on the conversation with sector stakeholders in East Africa and the Netherlands, the student team developed several creative ideas for a potential business model for joint action. These ideas will be discussed with the horticulture sector stakeholders, later this year.

NFP will continue facilitating the process of integrating the findings from ‘Nursery for human capital’ in the collaborative approach that we are building together with the horticulture sector stakeholders. We are open to discuss opportunities to link up to this collaboration from the education sector, the horticulture sector and others with specific interest in this domain.