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Promoting youth participation in agricultural export

by Kingsley Nzeadibe

According to some stakeholders, the agriculture sector has enough potential to provide decent livelihoods for the youth, so they should be encouraged to pursue farming and agriculture businesses.
They argue that Ghana has a large youth population that could be used to help with agricultural reforms, and that youth participation in agriculture should be prioritized in agricultural reforms aimed at increasing productivity.

According to the stakeholders, efforts should be made to remove barriers to youth empowerment in the sector.

They claimed that if young farmers were given the necessary skills, loans were made available for inputs such as seed and fertilizer for crop production, fingerlings for aquaculture, and marketing links were made available, they would be drawn to agriculture.

The Ghana Census of Agriculture (GCA) 2017/2018 contains their recommendations.

Census of Agriculture

It also suggests that agriculture be promoted as a viable business among the youth.

They must be enticed, it says, particularly those with a tertiary education, who have a high rate of unemployment.

According to the report, youth participation in agriculture is low, and it is critical to bring them on board in order to promote uniqueness and collaboration.

“Given the current modes of operation and characteristics of the people and institutions involved in agriculture, the full potentials of agriculture in terms of employment, food security, foreign exchange earnings, wealth, and investment outcomes are not being realized.”

“As a result, some issues such as adoption of technology, low agricultural productivity, and a lack of resources, among others, that have plagued the agriculture sector must be addressed in way to lure more people and investment opportunities into agriculture,” it said.

Youth are defined by the United Nations (UN) as people aged 15 to 24, and by Ghana’s National Youth Policy as people aged 15 to 35.

According to the United Nations, there are 2,270,441 youth in agricultural households, accounting for 20% of the total agricultural total population of 11,340,947.

According to Ghana’s definition of youth (15-35 years), there are 4,077,618 youth in agricultural households, accounting for 36.0 percent of all agricultural households.

Youth account for 37.7% of the total population of agricultural households in urban areas, compared to 35.4 percent in rural areas.

Agricultural exports

The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in collaborative efforts with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA), is trying to implement the Youth in Export Programme (YiEP) to encourage youth, especially those who have finished tertiary school, to take up agric for export as a career in the face of an ageing agric population.

The YiEP aims to encourage young people in agricultural crop-producing communities to start farming as an export business, in order to increase the number of Ghana’s young and educated people involved in the agricultural export sector.

It’s also meant to be a way for young people to make decent money through agriculture and other exports, putting them on the path to becoming self-employed.

The pilot phase of the program, which was put in place by the GEPA and the YEA, was intended to increase the capacity of youth showing an interest in agriculture to take farming seriously, to be gainfully employed, and to employ other youth, according to organizers.

Above everything, it is to prepare people who benefit to become exporters, thereby contributing to the export sector’s expected growth, as outlined in the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS).

The YiEP’s first group of beneficiaries has completed their six-month training.

They were chosen from a pool of about 67 applicants for the YiEP’s pilot phase, dubbed “Youth in Farming and Agricultural Product Export.”

The 20 trainees were chosen from the Eastern, Central, and Volta territories and paired with knowledgeable horticultural exporters (mentors) who provided them with hands-on coaching in the production of pineapple, papaya, and vegetables (chili, okra, and aubergine) with an emphasis on the export market.

The beneficiaries were 16 young men and four young women, eight of whom were trained in pineapple production, 11 in vegetable production, and one in papaya production, according to the breakdown.

As part of the YiEP pioneers’ assistance, they will be given funds to lease and prepare an acre of land so that they can begin their agribusiness journey.

They also receive inputs such as seeds and suckers, fertilizers, agro-chemicals, and irrigation systems, among other things.

In addition, until they are mature enough to start their own export operations, their mentors have agreed to off-take all of their “first fruits” and subsequent harvests.

Pioneers of YiEP

The GEPA’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr Afua Asabea Asare, assured the trainees at a final in Accra that the authority was committed to continuing the program and expanding it to benefit more of the teeming youth.

“I congratulate the “graduates” on successfully completing the program and making us all proud.

We hope you’re all in good spirits and prepared for the long term.

“The GEPA will closely monitor your activities and provide technical assistance as needed to ensure your success,” she said.

While praising the recipients, Mr Hebert Krapa, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, encouraged them to see the opportunity as a stepping stone.

“Your major accomplishment lies ahead of you if you stay committed to the course and build internal adaptability to overcome the challenges that lie ahead,” he said.

Mr Joseph Mr Joseph Anyomi Quaicoo, CEO and Founder of Anyomi Farms in Kpando, Volta Region, said he was pleased with the YiEP’s guarantee of market access for his produce.

“I presume it will go a long way toward assisting me in creating employment opportunities for myself and others.”

“I believe that young people who are already excelling in their fields should be predicted so that others can be motivated,” he said.

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