A six-month training for selected beneficiaries of the Youth in Export Programme (YiEP), the first in a series, has begun in Accra.
The 20 trainees were selected from about 67 applicants for the pilot phase of the YiEP, dubbed: “Youth in Farming and Export of Agricultural Products” being run by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).
Trainees are expected to go into the production of cassava, pineapple, chilli and okra, among others, for export.
Speaking in an interview at an orientation programme for the trainees in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, Dr Afua Asabea Asare, said the YiEP sought to attract Ghanaian youth into agriculture and to create employment opportunities to reduce graduate unemployment in the country.
She said the programme, which was starting with the agricultural sector, would have the youth attached to experienced exporters at their farms to mentor them in learning the rudiments of the export business.
“They will be later assisted to establish their own farms. We believe this is a timely intervention as the agricultural sector provides the youth with great employment opportunities and sustainable livelihood, while offering them the platform to contribute to the supply base of Ghana’s agricultural produce,” she noted.
She said the move would increase export earnings and ultimately enhance economic growth.
She commended the country’s experienced farmers and exporters for their role so far in export, and said: “We know they are ready to provide mentorship to the trainees regarding the production of selected fruits and vegetables to assist them acquire the knowledge and skills for the cultivation and export of agric produce, as well as establish and manage their own businesses”.
She expressed gratitude to exporters in the other sectors such as arts and crafts who had expressed their willingness to support the venture.
Dr Asare said the initiative also contributed to the industralisation agenda of President Nana Akufo-Addo by encouraging such practical means of supporting the start-ups in the agric sector, and also leveraging technology to deliver on efficiency.
The Director of Research at the YEA, Agya Yaw Nsiah, noted the public sector was able to employ only about seven per cent of the youth that entered the labour market annually, while the rest were left to seek opportunities elsewhere.
Thus the YEA reviewed its activities to also reposition as a facilitator of jobs through the creation of the ‘YEA Job Centre,’ an online platform that connected job seekers and employers.
He added that the GEPA YiEP was in line with the YEA’s strategic direction to ensure inclusive and sustainable programmes for the youth.
The Director of Projects at GEPA, Mr Alexander Dadzawa, said the YiEP was meant to be a sustainable way of creating jobs for the youth, and that after the mentorship programme, there would be an internship period with nuclear farmers for six-months.