The African Youth Network for Agricultural Transformation (AYNAT) has held a youth policy dialogue aimed at encouraging the youth to see agriculture as a life-long occupation.
The forum brought together more than 70 participants to empower them to go into agribusiness, and was on the theme ‘Implementing Ghana’s Youth Policy on Agriculture, defining a Pragmatic Approach’. It was organised with financial support from the Africa Lead of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
AYNAT is a network made up of young people trained by Africa Lead II at its champions for change leadership in agriculture workshop. It is devoted to ensuring that a proportion of the African population arms itself with skills and knowledge to make significant contributions and champion the transformation of Ghanaian and African agriculture, through capacity building, policy advocacy and research.
Dr. Ahmed Yakubu Alhassan, a Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, speaking at the event explained that agriculture is the most important instrument for government and has the greatest potential for solving youth unemployment.
He said it was in this direction that government initiated and institutionalised the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YAP) to help create more jobs for the youth.
“Government will continue to urge the youth to take up Agriculture at a high entrepreneurial level to improve their income.”
Dr. Alhassan said between 2009 and 2012, YAP provided support for about 250,000 youth in Block Farming, Aquaculture and other forms of skills, with emphasis on maize, rice and vegetable farming.
He indicated that under YAP, up to 500 youth have been engaged in fish-farming in the Volta River within the Volta and Eastern Regions.
He said the Programme had a challenge with recouping project funds from beneficiary farmers, which had rendered the programme dormant in subsequent years — though training and other support are still being offered to young farmers.
He said the challenges are clear indications that the public purse alone cannot create jobs for all Ghanaians; adding that positioning Agriculture well will create more jobs for the youth.
He said government will have to partner with the private sector to create more job opportunities for youth in agriculture; adding that existing viable incubator farms are being identified by government, so that they will serve as training centres for youth in agriculture, he said.
Mr. Edem F. Azagloe, the President of AYNAT, said his organisation was devoted to making sure that a proportion of Africa’s youth population armed itself with skills and knowledge to make significant contributions and champion the transformation of Ghanaian and African agriculture through capacity building, policy advocacy and research.
He said AYNAT’s objective is to build and strengthen the capacities of youth in agriculture to scale-up food security. He lauded Africa Lead and USAID for their continued support for AYNAT.
He urged government to continue putting in place policies and programmes that empower the youth to go into agriculture.