A former United Nations (UN) Secretary-General, Mr Kofi Annan, has said agriculture can be a powerful bait to accelerate economic development in Africa.
He, therefore, urged private investors and governments to consider agriculture as a business and invest in it to achieve the desired socio-economic development and reduce poverty in Africa.
Mr Annan said this when he visited the Rural Technology Facility (RTF) at Mankessim in the Mfantseman Municipality in the Central Region to assess progress of work under the Rural Enterprise Programme (REP).
The REP is a poverty alleviation scheme funded under a loan agreement between the Government of Ghana (GoG) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) through capacity building and entrepreneurship drive for beneficiaries.
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According to the Former UN Secretary General, agriculture should further be explored because it could help create reliable jobs in every chain of production. He also advised the youth to see it as a lifelong occupation.
Mr Annan said in developed countries, real jobs were created by the small and medium-scale enterprises and admonished governments to assist individuals to set up their own businesses.
The National Director of REP, Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, said the main focus of REP was to establish an institutional framework that ensured the sustainable delivery of services to transform and improve the livelihood of people in the rural areas.
He said REP was mainly focused on skills training and provision of facilities for business enterprise development.
REP operates in four main components of ensuring business development services, technology promotion in agribusiness activities to enhance access to finance through financial institutions and strengthening support system within the public and private sector.
Mr Attah-Antwi said REP had created 34,402 new jobs, established 27,702 new businesses and had positively affected the lives of about 140,000 people since 2012.
He said REP was targeting tertiary unemployed graduates interested in agribusiness in selected agricultural value chains and supported them through the Empowering Novel Agribusiness-Led Employment for Youth (ENABLE YOUTH) Programme.
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Ghana, Mr William Hanna, said the EU would continue to support the training of the youth in entrepreneurship.
He indicated that the EU was in discussion with the government for an increased support to small and medium-scale enterprises in agribusiness.
IFAD country Director, Mrs Esther Kasalu-Coffin, admonished the facilitators of REP to educate the beneficiaries on how they could access funds to expand their businesses to employ more people.
She said the success of the REP was a clear demonstration of transforming and improving the livelihoods of people in the rural communities. — GNA/GB