Use land banks to lure youth into agric – Forum participants
Ghana needs to create land banks easily accessible to the youth as part of the Youth in Agriculture Programme as there are young people interested in venturing into farming but have no lands.
The country also needs to create a fund that purposely addresses the credit needs of young people interested in agribusiness.
The fund could be supported by a levy imposed on the importation of agriculture products that can easily be cultivated in the country.
These were the highlights of a workshop in Ho in the Volta Region to improve approaches to mainstreaming gender in Ghana’s Youth Policy and Youth in Agriculture Programme with a focus on climate-smart agriculture and market-oriented value chains.
About the workshop
It is an initiative to analyse the challenges and opportunities for mainstreaming youth in Ghanaian agriculture and develop innovative entry approaches and recommendations for rural and urban youth in agricultural value chains.
The one-day workshop brought together young entrepreneurs in agribusiness, representatives of farmer-based organisations, media, young researchers and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture.
Supported by the USAID Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP), it is aimed at identifying the gaps and loopholes in the YIP and the National Youth Policy.
The APSP is aimed at improving the country’s regulatory climate to advance evidence-based policymaking, build the capacity of the private sector and civil society to participate in the policy process, and improve the enabling environment for the agriculture sector.
Speaking to the Graphic Business, the Project Lead for the initiative, Solomon Elorm Alavi, said there was a need to have an improved policy especially, to support the youth.
“There has been a lot of talk about youth unemployment in Ghana, and Africa at large. Agribusiness is the most viable opportunity for young people between the ages of 15 to 35. It is an area that should be addressed effectively,” he said.
Participants believed that constraints including land access, finance, improved policy environment, the inability to leverage on technology hampered the abililty of young people—graduate, non-graduates, rural and urban youth from entering the sector.
They also stated that the youth should be integrated into the agriculture policy framework of the country.
The workshop also stresses on the need to have an improved policy especially, to support young people in agribusiness.
The workshop will help get input from relevant stakeholders across the country for an informed perspective in coming out with a position paper to help policymakers in their decision-making.
Among some of the innovative ideas that came up was the possibility of young people who are into commercial agriculture exploring the operations of the Buffer Stock Company to secure financing for their farms.
It also included the need to establish land banks throughout the country and the possibility of young people exploring opportunities in the value chain of agriculture through collaborations.
“If young people are to go into agriculture, there must be an improved policy environment where we know that there are lands demarcated purposely for farming and ultimately help them on what to cultivate and where to do it,” Mr Alavi said.
Housing vs agric
Ghana's 1.7 million housing deficit means that increasing demand for housing is competing with farmlands, particularly in peri-urban areas such as Dodowa, Pokuase, Amasaman, Ningo-Prampram and Afienya where farmlands are shrinking.
Although data on how much farmlands the country is losing is hard to come by, the country’s estimated 14 million-hectare agriculture land, out of which six million is lying fallow, continues to be under threat due to the urban drift that has increased demand for homes.
Currently, there is little or no respect for areas originally planned as green zones in the country in the face of lack of law enforcement.
A participant and the Initiator of Guzakuza, a social enterprise that encourages young university graduates to go into agriculture, Nana Adjoa A. Sifa, said the initiative was a fruitful one.
“I got to know that the youth can also influence policy. Before I got here, I was wondering how the youth could influence policy. But I now realise that when we come together, we will be able to push the government to do something.
If we know our problems and the solutions for it, we can let the government know that this is what we think should be the way forward,” she said.