President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called on the youth to take advantage of government’s new flagship initiative dubbed Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP).
He urged the youth to take advantage of the incentive packages inherent in the new programme to venture into agriculture as a lifetime vocation for job creation.
He is hopeful of a robust agricultural sector to foster food sufficiency saying the Programme aimed at reinvigorating the sector’s human resource base.
According to him, the sustenance of agriculture is dependent on the youth and therefore government is counting on their vibrancy, fresh ideas, and innovation to improve the collective fortune of the country.
President Akufo-Addo was speaking in Accra at the opening of the Presidential Conference on Youth in Agriculture Programme being implemented to leverage opportunities for the youth along the agricultural value chain.
Farming as a life-time vocation
Youth in Agriculture Programme is one of the key agro-based initiatives of the government to motivate the youth to accept and appreciate farming and food production as a commercial venture – taking up farming as a life-time vocation.
YEA, MoFA collaboration
It is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and Youth Employment Agency (YEA) under the second phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs (PfJ) policy.
4 main components
The four main components are Crops and Block Farm, Livestock and Poultry, Fisheries and Aquaculture as well as Agribusiness.
Livestock and Poultry
Under Livestock and Poultry, the component targets young unemployed men and women to take to production of livestock and poultry – broilers, layers, guinea fowls and piggery.
Beneficiary youth will be assisted with day-old chicks in the case of broilers, layers and guinea fowls, and also provided with housing, feeding, drugs and vaccine until they are weaned off the Programme in about a year.
Similarly, breeding sows and pigs together with the other inputs will be provided.
There is also a programme for other animals such as cattle, sheep and goats and other stocks such as rabbit and grasscutter, with the participating farmers being trained since animal production is a specialised area.
Maize, rice, and vegetables
The target commodities under this intervention would include maize, rice, and vegetables.
However, if all the 400,000 hectares are used for rice cultivation alone, Ghana will exceed food self-sufficiency production target of 1.8 million metric tonnes in two years instead of the five-year plan under the PFJ.
Permanent work for 200,000 youth
The initiative targets to put 200,000 youth into permanent work in agriculture with each individual cultivating an average farm size of 10 acres.
This will mean putting 400,000 hectares of arable land under cultivation.
YIAP has the task and responsibility of mobilizing the youth to take up farming and its other related activities as a lifetime vocation.
By so doing the following benefits will be derived from the employment for the youth, through the provision of tractor services and agro–inputs.
It has the objective of making youth accept farming as a commercial business venture, generate appreciable income to meet farmers’ domestic and personal needs and improve the standard of living of the youth through improved income.
It is also to motivate the youth to stay in rural areas, as inputs will be delivered at their farm gate, on credit basis and interest-free to produce enough food crops, meat and fish using modem methods.
Any person interested in farming, groups of young men and women in the community interested in farming and any institution which trains farmers can take advantage of the initiative.
The initiative will assist the youth to be empowered in producing enough food crops, meat and fish by adopting modern agronomic practices and farming methods.
Challenge of youth unemployment
President Akufo-Addo noted that youth unemployment remains a challenge to the nation and the government is committed to addressing it through innovative interventions like the Youth in Agriculture programme
As such, he said the Programme is to serve as an avenue for the beneficiaries to harness and maximise their agricultural potential for economic growth.
“Agriculture, a major sector of the economy awaits the participation of the youth both educated and uneducated.
“This dialogue, this platform is a valuable step towards harnessing the potential of the youth to address the challenges in the agriculture sector. Realized, this will ensure the sustainable development of agriculture for the overall benefit of our country,” he said.
Expanded opportunities for youth
President Akufo-Addo reiterated that expanded opportunities for the youth are inherent in the design of the Youth in Agriculture programme which focuses on value-chain development.
He therefore appealed to the youth to rally around this initiative by forming cooperatives and partnerships to derive the maximum benefit to accrue from implementation of the programme.
President Nana Akufo-Addo said the government’s agenda is to change for the better the erroneous impression the youth had about farming.
“We are talking about a sector and industry which can create wealth,” he noted.
He stressed that there was no single sector of the economy that had contributed so much to improving the living conditions of the people other than agriculture.
Revival of the economy
Touching on the state of the economy and efforts his administration is making in order to bring economic stability and growth, President Akufo-Addo said there are clear signs that the economy is on a recovery path and the evidence of it is in a downward trend of inflation.
“The prospects for the rebound are growing stronger and stronger. We are working hard to sustain this momentum.
“Inflation has reduced from 54.1% in December 2022 to 38.1% in September and there is every indication that by the end of the year, it will be around 27%. By the end of my tenure next year, 15%,” the President stated.
The Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr Bryan Acheampong indicated that the new initiative which is a component of the second phase of PFJ programme, is designed to support the youthful population to go into agriculture as stress-free as possible.
He explained that with the off taker arrangement and the incentive packages spelt out in the initiative; there is no excuse on the part of the youth not to venture into Agriculture.
He predicted that successful implementation of the programme could lead to food supply increase and a decline in food cost.
He expressed the hope that Ghana would witness a drastic reduction in food inflation to a single digit by the end of his tenure in office.
Minister of Employment, Labour Relations and Pensions, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, noted that the Ministry remained resolute to exploring various avenues of addressing youth unemployment and Agriculture holds promise in that regard.
He explained that one of the quickest solutions to addressing unemployment is to harness agriculture because studies had revealed that agriculture was one sector area that was not well tapped to derive the benefits of jobs creation among the youth.
Chief Executive Officer (ECO) of YEA, Mr. Kofi Baah Agyepong, encouraged the youth to be interested in agriculture.
He explained that the detailed incentive packages are to motivate the young farmers to venture into Agriculture and address the stigma faced by young graduates desirous to go into farming.