President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has implored Ghanaian youth to participate actively in the government’s “Youth in Agriculture” initiative since the agriculture sector remains the biggest platform for job creation.
President Akufo-Addo said the agriculture sector has expanded opportunities for the youth which is inherent in the design of the programme and focuses on value-chain development.
Speaking to some youth at the launch of the Presidential Conference on the “Youth in Agriculture initiative” in Accra Wednesday, the President urged particularly educated youth to take advantage of the opportunity and form cooperatives and partnerships to derive the maximum benefit of the programme.
Sustaining Ghana’s agriculture is dependent on the youth, he emphasised adding: “The youth are the future of this country and we count on their vibrancy, fresh ideas and innovation to improve our collective fortune.”
While agriculture can and does have a positive effect in Ghana, it remains unattractive to many young people.
Farmers in Ghana and most developing countries are confronted with issues such as outdated farming practices, limited access to technology, capital, land, climate change and pests, all of which hinder productivity and income generation.
Agriculture, a major sector of the Ghanaian economy, awaits the participation of the youth both educated and uneducated.
This dialogue and platform, according to President Akufo-Addo, is a valuable step towards harnessing the potential of the youth to address the challenges in the agriculture sector.
When realised, the President disclosed that it would ensure the sustainable development of agriculture for the overall benefit of the country.
He said despite the challenges facing the economy, the government was making frantic efforts to create economic stability and growth, as shown by the downward trend of inflation.
“The prospects for the rebound are growing stronger and stronger. We are working hard to sustain this momentum,” the president indicated.
“Inflation has reduced from 54.1% in December 2022 to 38.1% in September and there is every indication that by the end of the year, it will be around 27%. By the end of my tenure next year, 15%.”
President Akufo-Addo commended the chief executive officer of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), Kofi Agyepong, for his contribution to youth employment during his relatively short stay at YEA.
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong, said the initiative, a component of the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), is specifically designed to support young people to go into agriculture.
“Our invitation to young people to go into agriculture is not a hoe-and-cutlass business but with modernised equipment and technology which is pivotal to transforming and improving how the sector is perceived and productively.
“We are going to put 200,000 youth into permanent work in agriculture, with each individual cultivating an average farm size of ten acres,” Dr Acheampong said.
“This will mean putting 400,000 hectares of arable land under cultivation. The target commodities under this intervention will include maize, rice and vegetables.
“However, if we put all the 400,000 hectares of land under rice cultivation alone, we will exceed our food self-sufficiency production target of 1.8 million metric tonnes in two years instead of the five-year plan under the Planting for Food and Jobs programme,” the Food and Agriculture Minister said.
The Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP) was developed to motivate the youth to accept and appreciate farming/food production as a commercial venture and thereby take up farming as a lifetime vocation.
The YIAP has the task and responsibility of mobilising the youth to take up farming and related activities as a lifetime vocation. By so doing, they will derive the following benefits from employment for the youth, providing tractor services and agro-inputs.
The programme has four components, namely crops/block farm, livestock and poultry, fisheries/aquaculture and agribusiness.
Rex Mainoo Yeboah, ISD