Farming has an unglamorous image across Africa, Ghana not being an exception in particular.
Modernising the country’s agricultural sector to attract young people will help tackle youth unemployment and food insecurity.
Conscious of the important role of agriculture in job creation and food security, the government will, today, launch an initiative known as the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme.
The programme is a new policy geared towards the modernisation of the country’s agriculture and ensuring food security for the country.
It forms part of efforts by the government to reverse the declining growth in the agricultural sector over the past several years.
The Daily Graphic welcomes this initiative because, without it, the country will not be able to solve its chronic food shortage or worrying unemployment levels among its youth.
Channelling the energy, strength and dynamism of the country’s growing youth into productive, competitive and profitable agribusinesses will boost agricultural production systems, create jobs and generate incomes.
The impact of youth involvement and participation in agriculture and food systems will be seen in sustainable economic growth and in the reduction of poverty and malnutrition across the country.
Even a one per cent increase in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the agricultural sector reduces poverty five times as much as any other sector.
Despite the laudable initiative by the government to reverse the declining trend in the agricultural sector and creating jobs at the same time, there are a number of long-standing barriers that may deter the youth from venturing into farming.
One problem is the lack of access to land. There are many arable lands dotted across the country but because of the limitation of our land tenure system and land policies, it is very difficult for the youth to access land.
Again, unlike the situation in countries in the advanced world, Ghana does not have a viable land market. Land is either traditionally or culturally owned.
Another constraint has to do with accessing finance. Even if the youth want to venture into agriculture, after identifying the land, it is hard to find the finances to buy it which makes it very hard to get a foot onto the agricultural ladder.
It is estimated that agriculture provides 65 per cent of the continent’s jobs, and as the world wakes up to the challenge it faces to feed a growing population that is forecast to exceed nine billion by the middle of this century, Africa holds up to 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable lands.
It is our view that for the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ initiative to be successful, the government must sustain the campaign by offering our young graduates ready employment on the farms, so that they do not go hunting for non-existent white-collar jobs.
There is also the need to “rebrand” the image of farming and the opportunities for employment the sector offers, so that when we talk about agriculture to the youth, the focus is not only on the production side but also along the whole chain.
Since agriculture is also about research and development, the government must focus on improved distribution, access to markets and improved technology, processing and retailing in a bid to entice more youth to the sector.
The Daily Graphic wishes the Ministry of Food and Agriculture success as it launches the ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ programme in Goaso today.
Source: Graphic online .com