Maximising agric benefits: President charges youth to form cooperatives
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the youth to form cooperatives and partnerships in order to secure maximum benefit from the Youth in Agriculture programme.
He said in the face of limited resources, forming partnerships was the best way to mobilise financing on a bigger scale for productive ventures.
President Akufo-Addo gave the advice at a presidential conference on Youth in Agriculture held in Accra last Wednesday.
The conference was initiated by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).
At the programme, the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong, announced that the government would restructure $40 million World Bank-funded food systems resilience programme to restore fully farmers whose farms had been wiped out by the floods from the dams spillage.
“I have directed that due to this emergency, 40 million dollars of the World Bank-funded food systems resilience programme be restructured to restore fully farmers whose farms have been wiped out due to the necessary action taken by the VRA to save us all,” the minister said.
President Akufo-Addo stated that expanded opportunities for the youth were inherent in the design of the Youth in Agriculture programme which he said was focused on value chain development.
He, therefore, commended the Minister of Agriculture, Dr Acheampong, for the creation of the Youth in Agriculture platform and pledged the full commitment of the government to the programme.
Making reference to the 2021 Population and Housing Census, President Akufo-Addo said the youth constituted a very significant proportion of the country’s population, estimated at 50 per cent.
“It is, thus, in our collective interest to institute measures that will empower the youth at all times to help sustain the growth and development of our nation,” he added.
Anything short of that, President Akufo-Addo said, would be a recipe for social and economic malaise which would be seen in a population of high illiteracy and unemployment rates with its resultant social vices posing significant threats to the security of the nation.
“My government has since 2017 invested in youth development programmes targeted at developing the intellect of the youth, offering them at the same time opportunities to entrepreneurship and employability,” the President added.
He catalogued some of the notable interventions for the youth as the Free SHS policy, the introduction of STEM education, the construction of 10 model STEM high schools and centres as well as the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET).
President Akufo-Addo also mentioned the implementation of the no guarantor policy for the Students Loan Scheme, the modernisation and retooling of the Ghana Library Authority, the Nation Builders Corps (NABCo) and the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP).
In spite of those interventions, the President said, youth employment remained a major challenge and a source of concern.
“What is also reassuring is that the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ 2.0), in addition to promoting large-scale production, addresses the issue of marketing through off-taker arrangements as part of the input credit module introduced under the programme,” he stated.
That would mitigate post-harvest losses and the risk associated with farming, President Akufo-Addo added.
“With this assurance there should be no excuse for the youth not to be involved in agriculture.
It is important to stress that sustaining the agriculture of Ghana depends on the youth who are the future of this country and we count on their vibrancy, fresh ideas and innovation to improve our collective fortune,” he emphasised.
The President indicated that agriculture, which was a major segment of the economy, awaited the participation of the youth, both educated and uneducated.
The President hinted that 2,000 youth would soon be trained in basic intermediate and advanced digital skills, while another 20,000 artisans such as plumbers, tilers, masons and beauticians would be trained by master craftsmen and given certificates by TVET and the Ghana Energy Commission.
He further mentioned that an additional 15, 000 youth would also be equipped with business skills, corporate compliances and financial sustainability techniques.
For his part, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, said: “The well-being and aspirations of our youth are linked to the stability and prosperity of our nation.”
He added that the gravity of the situation demanded immediate attention and a concerted effort for a lasting solution.
Mr Awuah gave an assurance that his outfit was resolute in exploring various avenues to create sustainable employment opportunities for the teeming youth in the country.