The Founder and Managing Director of Eden Tree Limited, Catherine Krobo Edusei, has called for the creation of demonstration farms that showcase best practices in agriculture, with high-level technology, as a measure to attract the youth into the sector.
She said technology was such a big enabler and game changer in the sector such that, when it was streamlined properly with the right resources, it could change the narrative.
Ms Edusei, who is an award-winning entrepreneur and is celebrating her 25th year as a farmer and agribusiness entrepreneur, said though profitable and lucrative, agric and its value chain had suffered due to the negative perceptions about it.
“Many young people see the agric sector as a dirty and unrewarding venture only for the elderly, uneducated and rural poor.
Speaking to Rev. Albert Ocran in a Springboard Virtual University interview to be broadcast on Sunday, March 27, on Joy 99.7 FM, Joy Prime TV and online, Ms Edusei stressed that because school farms were used as places for punishing students, many had grown up with a deep-seated psychological dislike for farming.
She bemoaned the cost of modern agric technologies and the lack of access to finances to acquire them. In spite of these challenges, she still sees opportunities to create jobs in farming and agribusiness.
“We are not producing enough as a country and we often under-distribute and are forced to rely on exports. What we have done at Eden Tree is to create a scheme where we give soft loans to smallholder farmers to enable them to plant for us. While this creates income security for them, they sometimes breach trust and try to cheat by the side selling,” she said.
Sharing how she went into the agricultural sector, Ms Edusei indicated that she entered into farming by default.
“I relocated to Ghana as a banker, with my two children, and prayed to God for work outside the formal sector. An NGO request for aloe vera in large quantities created an opportunity. I ended up planting culinary herbs such as basil, parsley, dale, coriander, fennel and the rest is history,” she recalled.
While expressing concern about the cultural perception that farming is not for women, she said while men led in land acquisition and in the collection of cash, it was women who planted, harvested and trade the farm produce.
She called on the youth, especially young women to view agribusiness with an open mind and not see it as below their level since the opportunities in the sector were vast and lucrative.