Agriculture is regarded as one of Ghana’s economic foundations, and the government is supporting youth in innovative agriculture as part of the country’s development plan.
Mr. Franklin Owusu-Karikari, Director of Business Support and Policy (NEIP), stated at the official inauguration of the Youth in Innovative Agriculture that the nexus/connection between the agriculture department and Ghana’s ability to accomplish its food and nutrition security goals is inexorably intertwined.
Agriculture, he claims, cannot be carried out as “business as usual” in the context of the 4th industrial revolution in order to attract our country’s teeming youth.
Inline with this, agriculture is important to the department of any nation, Ghana being now exception. Development must include the youth and therefore the mission to encourage their participation in the agriculture sector.
This effort seeks to change negative perception that the youth have of participation in agriculture,(farmers) as uneducated, unskilled, physical laborer’s with extremely low economic return. Modern agriculture is more than tilling the soil and rearing of animals.
The sector today offers career opportunities in research, environment, financial management, engineering and other technical areas for the youth to explore.
“There is therefore the need for the introduction of the concept of support for Youth in Innovative Agriculture(YIIA) which is necessary and vital to facilitate food and nutrition security because of the underlined reasons as indicated on the website of the Ministry of Agriculture; There is compelling evidence of ageing farmers population in the country which must be addressed to facilitate sustainability in agriculture production. The average age of framer in Ghana is 55years and life expectancy average between 55-60years. Ghana’s food import bill for maize, ice, frozen chicken and meat (have become staple food) continues to rise. If this trend continues the availability of food in Ghana in the near future will depend on imports making the country vulnerable to catastrophic events and other exogenous shocks that have negative impacts on food production from external sources. The youth is strategic to the success of any effort to boost Ghana’s food production. The poor image of persons involved in agriculture, especially in the rural communities needs to be changed and the youth are the ideal catalyst for such change given their greater prosperity and willingness to adapt new ideas, concept and technology which are all important to changing the way agriculture is practice and perceived. Increased employment particularly rural employment is required as youth unemployment is on the increase. Increase productivity in agriculture sector depends on the youth comprise of about 30-40% of Ghana’s active population. Their energy and numbers provide tremendous opportunities for increasing agricultural productivity” stressed.
Mr. Owusu-Karikari noted that the support for Youth in Innovative Agriculture(YIIA) will be a Government of Ghana(GOG) agricultural sector initiative for the youth under the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) with an objective of providing financial technical support to motivate the youth to accept and appreciate farming/food production as a commercial venture, thereby taking up innovative farming as a life time vocation.
He mentioned that the YIIA has the task and responsibility of mobilizing the youth to take up innovative farming and it’s other related activities as life time vocation. By so doing the following benefits will be derived from the employment for Youth.
“To empower the youth to use technology and other innovative ways for farming. To motivate the youth to accept innovative farming as a commercial business venture; Train youth in current modernize innovative ways of agriculture, helping the youth to generate appreciable income to meet their personal and business needs; to help the youth to improve their standard of living-through improved income. To motivate the youth to stay in rural areas to build sustainable agricultural businesses. Produce enough food crops, meat and eggs using modern methods to sustain food security in the country as a compliment to the planting for food and Jobs” he added.
The NEIP is therefore, announcing an application for young Ghanaians to apply for the first phase of “Youth in Innovative Agriculture Support” under the Ghana Cares” Obaatanpa” programme.
He hinted that the programme seeks to enlist young people between the ages of 18-40years who are into agriculture to be trained, on Vegetables, Maize, poultry and livestock, Yam/Cassava and agro processing and Fritsch, funded. Beneficiaries of the programme will receive an amount of ¢20.000 to ¢200.000 Ghana Cedis as a flexible loan facility payable within 3-5years at an interest rate of 10%per annum.
The Ghana Cares(Obaatan participation) programme is an unprecedented, bold and audacious GH¢100 billion post Covid programme to stabilize, revitalize and transform Ghana’s economy to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over a three-year period. It is sequenced in two phase: a Stabilization Phase that is running from July to the end of the year(2020); and a medium term Revitalization Phase from 2021-2023.
According to him, the first phase of the programme builds on the actions already taken by the government under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme, including stabilization of the economy, ensuring food security, supporting businesses and workers, strengthening the health system and passage of legislation to facilitate quick economic recovery.
He pointed out that the second phase aims at revitalizing and transforming the economy from 2021-2023 will focus on supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture, building Ghana’s light manufacturing sector, developing engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy, developing Ghana’s housing and construction industry, reviewing and optimizing the implementation of government flagships and key programme among others.
Story by : Nana Owusu Sakyi IV