Contrary to the widely-held belief that young persons are apathetic toward agriculture – primarily because of the rigors involved and assumed poor return on investment – there is a plethora of empirical evidence to show that given the appropriate channels, young persons will aggressively participate in the sector.
This formed the central thought of the keynote address delivered by Carriane de Boer, the Chief of Party for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Ghana Poultry Project (GPP) at the launch of Agricultural Students Career Guidance and Mentorship Dialogue Bootcamp (AG-STUD Africa) 2021.
Speaking at the event which had as its theme, ‘We have enabled and established: Time to scale-up to feed Ghana’, she described the aforementioned view as an ‘unfortunate myth’, arguing that from her experience, young persons are seeking to eliminate existing barriers by leveraging technology to drive the business of agriculture.
“The youth do not want farming narratives that limit their imagination, potential and modern commercial prospects. They are rather extremely interested in a modernised approach to agriculture, where they can utilise their mobile phones, new techniques, and computers to manage their farms, for example,” she said.
She therefore called on key stakeholders from the public and private sectors to focus on the entire spectrum of the agriculture value chain in their engagement with the youth, with sustainable social mobility as the central target.
On her part, Member of Parliament (MP) for the Klottey-Korle constituency, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, who serves as patron for the AG-STUD programme echoed sentiments earlier expressed by Head the Animal Science Department at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), Prof. Julius Hagan, who stated that opportunities abound in the agriculture value-chain, especially in data collection, for the more than 90% of the approximately 1,000 who graduate yearly but do not gain immediate employment.
She further charged the organisers of the programme, Agrihouse Foundation, to ensure active participation in driving agriculture at the policy level by engaging the house of legislature.
“Take a place as a Civil Society Organisation of agribusiness. No more should any Bill come before parliament without your involvement; you have the know-how, you know what happens on the field. Policies determine what you do, so take a keen interest in what happen as even with the best intentions, no government has all the know-how,” she stressed.
Executive Director for Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, in her remarks revealed that the number of participating schools has increased from seven, for the inaugural edition to 17 seventeen for the fourth edition.
The launch saw representation from key stakeholders including the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), Agricultural Development Bank of Ghana (ADB), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Seedco Ghana, OCP Africa as well as individuals from participating schools. The AG-STUD Africa bootcamp 2021 is scheduled for the 12 – 16 April.