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JAK Foundation launches Youth in Agribusiness Festival

BY: Zadok Kwame Gyesi

The John A. Kufuor Foundation (JAK Foundation) has pledged its commitment to continue to promote youth development in the country.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Foundation, Professor Baffour Agyeman-Duah, who made the remarks said the Foundation does not only see young people as future leaders but as people who should be prepared so that when they assume leadership in future, they can work and do better things.

For him, the Foundation has development as one of its three key focal areas, with the other two areas being leadership and governance.

Prof. Agyeman-Duah who was speaking at the launch of the Foundation’s maiden Youth in Agribusiness Festival in Accra on Thursday, March 31, 2022, said the Foundation over the years had been promoting agriculture through advocacy and at times through direct supports.

The festival, which will be celebrated on the theme: “Youth in Agribusiness in Ghana: the story so far and the way forward” in July, 2022 at the Jubilee Park and the Prempeh Assembly Hall in Kumasi, is designed to showcase the outstanding development of young people within the agribusiness sector.

The festival also seeks to celebrate distinguished young agribusiness practitioners by providing them the platform to share their success stories.

Youth in Agribusiness festival 

Speaking at the launch, Prof. Agyeman-Duah said the initiative was born out of the former President John Kufuor’s own personal commitment to improving agriculture and agri-related businesses in the country, particularly those that are led by young people.

He said the Foundation had played a critical role in the rice sector, ensuring that Ghana becomes self-sufficient in rice production.

“We have been very much active in promoting agriculture, particularly rice production in the country and other countries in the Africa,” he noted.

For him, the festival among others will help to promote facilities for young people in the agri-sector, adding that the festival was not only targeting those who are directly on the field but all agriculture value-chain actors.

He therefore charged the media to support the initiative in order for it to gain the needed traction in public discourse.

Why youth

The Convener of the Youth in Agribusiness Festival, Mr Jeffrey Agyemang-Duah, said the festival is envisaged to bring together major stakeholders in agribusiness on one platform to share their experiences, lessons learnt, and to network along the agricultural value-chain.

He added that the festival will serve as an inspiration to generate interest in agribusiness for both employed and unemployed youth, stressing that “those who do not find agribusiness as an attractive business venture will be exposed to the achievements of the youth in agribusiness and will therefore have evidence of the prospects and the life-changing experiences in agribusiness.”

Mr Agyemang Duah further explained that the festival was inspired by the need to motivate the youth to accept agriculture and its related activities as a commercial business venture.

That, he noted, the Youth in Agribusiness Festival is targeting people aged between 18 to 35 who are involved in farming, technology service provision, agri-input dealership, agri advisory and financial service provision, processing and value addition, packaging, branding, digital or online marketing, transportation and distribution and and agri-tourism, among others.

“By getting more young people into agribusiness through this festival, we believe, it will contribute to the reduction of youth unemployment in Ghana which unfortunately, shot from 8.72 percent in 2019 to 9.46 percent in 2020 according to International Labor Organization,” he observed.

He has therefore encouraged agribusiness companies, private investors and financial institutions to invest in the youth in agriculture, saying “We hope to create linkages and networking space among young agribusiness entrepreneurs with industry leaders and investors.”

With regard to participating in the festival, Mr Agyemang Duah said, an electronic form has been designed for organisations and individuals who wish to exhibit their products and services to visit the John A. Kufuor Foundation’s website for more details.

GIZ

Dr Elke Stumpf of GIZ-Agribiz Programme in a brief remarks said GIZ has not relented on its efforts in the job creation process, adding that GIZ has been working to promote job creation, particularly for the youth and women.

For her, GIZ has been supporting startups, young entrepreneurs, as well as the private sector.

Opportunities

The Chief Executive Officer at Chamber of Agribusiness Ghana, Mr Anthony S. K Morrison, said the youth played a critical role in the country’s agriculture and by extension, food security, hence the need to support youth in agriculture and agribusiness.

He said there was the need to have an effective up-to-date data on the youth in agric-business to help with policy formulation and implementation.

“You can’t do anything without a robust data. Data is critical and data is what we need to link them to where there are available opportunities,” he noted.