The 2012 presidential candidate of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), Dr Abu Sakara, has urged the youth to change their perception about agriculture and see it as a wealth-creating venture.
According to him, the agriculture sector had the potential to mitigate the unemployment situation and also serve as the key to transforming the economy.
Speaking at the Ghana Youth Agrifair and Youth in Agriculture stakeholders’ forum in Accra, Dr Sakara said the destiny of the country’s economy lied in the agricultural sector if proper policies, skills and technology were put in place.
Favourable systems needed
He said the country was not making progress in agriculture because of the loopholes in the systems and the low level of intervention in the sector.
He urged the government to solve the systemic problems that tended to hinder the activities of small-scale farmers for them to be productive.
For instance, he said, lands should be made available for the youth for farming, while the government and financial institutions scaled up and rolled out financial packages for startups who wished to go into farming.
Dr Sakara said Africa’s food market, currently standing at $313 billion, was expected to grow to $1 trillion in 2030, which the youth must take advantage of.
He urged the government to make the sector more favourable by leveraging the amount of investments that went into the agriculture sector in order to attract the youth.
Dr Sakara also asked the government to re-invest the country’s oil money into agriculture infrastructure to make the nation competitive.
There is compelling evidence of ageing farmer population in the country which must be addressed to facilitate sustainability in agriculture production.
The average age of a farmer in Ghana is 55 and life expectancy averages between 55 -60 years. The country is also a net importer of foods, yet hundreds of youth graduate from the universities every year without getting employed.
It is against this background that the Ghana Centre for Entrepreneurship, Employment and Innovation (GCEEI), in partnership with the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, organised the Ghana Youth Agrifair and the Youth in Agriculture stakeholders forum to discuss factors impeding the participation of the youth in agriculture.
The programme, which was on the theme: “Promoting youth in agriculture: Time to walk the talk” created the platform for young people in agriculture business to showcase their products and services.
The Co-ordinator of the Youth in Agriculture Programme at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Alhaji E.A. Mahama, noted that the youth venturing into the agriculture sector was an intervention to mitigate the unemployment situation which had become a global crisis.
“The issue of youth unemployment was not associated with only Ghana, therefore, we must appreciate what we have and find solutions to our problems,” he said.
He said the Youth in Agriculture programme was a major government intervention policy to attract the youth into the agricultural sector and accept it as a commercial venture.
In a speech read on his behalf, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, said transformation of the sector was very key to make it more appealing to the youth.
Although the government had tried to solve the unemployment situation in Ghana, Mr Humado said it was now time for the youth to break new grounds and see the sector as the breakthrough to solve the unemployment crisis.
For his part, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, commended the organisers of the programme, saying such initiatives gave a sense of hope to the desperate youth who were not getting jobs.
He said the country had the potential in terms of human resources and the lands to feed its own people and improve on the economic conditions of the country.