Ghana must prioritise agriculture!!!

 President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is reported as having formally launched a legacy project geared towards youth employment generation in the country, which project is dubbed “Youth in Agricul­ture for Sustainable Employ­ment”.

We think the project being implemented by the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) in collaboration with the Min­istry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) is a lofty idea, espe­cially because it is expected to generate permanent jobs for about 200,000 youth across the country.

Considering the fact that the average age of farmers in the country, particularly crop farmers, is 55 years and that the percentage of the youth in agriculture is less than six of the farmer population, it should be everyone’s pleasure that some youth have accept­ed to practise farming as a vocation.

If all the youth decline to do farming, the country’s food bill, for instance, will continue to rise to the point where the country will become vulnera­ble to catastrophic events and other exogenous crises that have negative impact on food production from external source.

Ghana is an agrarian coun­try, first and foremost, and so it should do all it can to lever­age this natural endowment for its progress.

Endowments of nations are gifts that should be spring­boards for their development but this idea appears to be a far cry in the country, espe­cially with regard to farming, because of certain factors, including perception and lack of easy access to resources as their custodians tend to hijack them for their selfish interest.

In this country perception about agriculture is generally negative as particularly the practice of crop farming, not livestock and agribusiness, is thought of as being a poor or frustrated man’s endeavour.

Therefore, the youth gen­erally would like to venture into areas they see as lucra­tive such as politics and this is particularly sad for the country because there is no dispute that many people are in Ghanaian politics not to help the country to grow but to siphon state resources for their benefit only.

Remember, if the current trend where politics is more lucrative than industry is not changed, the country’s future is bleak.

It is curious to learn from the Final Draft National Youth in Agriculture Policy and Implementation Plan by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries in Jamaica that in an agriculture survey involving 167 high school students, 62 per cent of the respondents said they would pursue a ca­reer in agriculture or agribusi­ness, while 36 per cent would not.

The willing respondents gave reasons centred on

agriculture’s importance to the country, love and passion for the field, working with animals and plants, opportu­nities presented by agriculture, profitability and attractiveness of the business aspect of it.

Are we sure of getting such a result in Ghana in the face of the present trends on the country’s socio-economic landscape?

Sincerely, we would hear the negative ones like the drudg­ery involved, lack of opportu­nities, unprofitability, and lack of support.

But these are realities in the country and so every effort to change the negative narrative about agriculture here such as the ‘Youth in Agriculture for Sustainable Employment’ must be given the necessary push it deserves.

Disinterest in the country’s agriculture, particularly crop farming, will jeopardise the health of majority of Ghana­ians as they form the vulnera­ble group.

And when this happens, the country will lose the benefits of a healthy people for its forward march.

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