Agricultural science students’ from Ghanaian universities have welcomed Africa Lead’s – Champions for Change initiative – that trains youth leaders to champion innovations in the agricultural sector for increased food production and improved livelihoods.
The students were drawn from a number of tertiary institutions in the country including: University of Cape Coast (UCC), University of Ghana (UG), University of Education, Winneba and Accra Technical University.
They expressed the belief that getting the youth actively involved in developing agriculture policies and initiating activities was the right way to go to raise output, reduce hunger and cut down post-harvest waste.
“A lot of people are hungry and they will do anything to get food to eat,” Ms Christine Dosseti from UCC noted. She said the training helped her a lot and she now had knowledge and understanding on how to network and collaborate to bring results.
She raised concern about post-harvest losses and called for a pragmatic means to deal with the situation and a more aggressive mechanized agriculture practices in order to produce more food to feed the hungry population.
“We need to create a means to learn how to store [our surplus products and food] so that we can get a lot of people food. Some farmers can lose about 50 per cent of their output through post-harvest losses.”
Another trainee said: “This training has given me insight into networking and how to plan strategically; it has also given me insight about food security and entrepreneurial skills.”
“I hope to champion food security in the country [Ghana] in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Dr Yaw Osei-Asare, Lecturer with UG Agric Economics and Agribusiness Department also noted that agriculture was the way to go and that government ought to see it as a business and put in place appropriate policies to facilitate the process.
He said the government must target people with interest in doing agriculture and roll out the necessary support scheme in the form of finances and other means to back their efforts.
He also called for a review of the country’s education curriculum to include the learning of African Union’s Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).
The CAADP principles enjoin African countries to increase their annual public funding of agriculture to 10 per cent and grow the sector by at least six per cent.
It also seeks to double agriculture productivity by 2025, half poverty, reduce post-harvest losses by 50 per cent and increase African farms resilience to climate change and weather by 30 per cent by 2025.
Africa Lead is USAID’s primary capacity building programme in sub Saharan Africa.
The programme works to help realise Feed the Future and the African Union’s CAADP goals.
CAADP aims to reduced hunger and poverty by building the capacity of champions, institutions and stakeholders to develop, lead and manage the structures needed for African-led agriculture transformation.
Around 96 students went through the champions for change leadership course dubbed: “Building capacity for African agricultural transformation,” from January 23 to January 27, at the UG campus.
The session aimed to inspire, energize and mobilize innovative leaders, champions and thinkers in Ghana and Africa who were committed to create new approaches to attaining food security with the youth at the forefront of the change process.
Ms Carla Denizard, Regional Director of West and Central Africa Lead, advised the champions for change leaders to learn about great leaders as the impact of leadership was very great on their lives.
She urged them to serve as good examples and continue to improve upon their leadership skills.
She said: “There are so many ways one can do to develop leadership skills and boost agriculture.”
The champions for change leadership training covered a number of topics relating to agriculture.
The students were exposed to agribusiness opportunities and encouraged to get on farming projects modern technologies and local initiatives.