AGRA initiative encourages youth to pursue careers in agriculture

YADIS, an initiative by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is helping encourage more young people to venture into careers in agricultural production as a source of employment.

The Youth Agri-preneurship Development in the SADA-Zone (YADIS) initiative is being rolled out in collaboration with Sahel Grains and Nestle. The initiative has trained hundreds of youth agri-preneurs in good agricultural practices and provided them with support.

Kwame Boateng who is CEO of Sahel Grains Limited says YADIS focuses on empowering youth aged between 20 and 35 years old so they can treat agriculture as business.

“Agriculture and entrepreneurship is being fused together. Farming is no longer cutlass and hoe business. There is no difference with how you run a typical business. We are making sure we understand problems and critical rethinking and how to manage our farm as a business,” he told Asaase Radio in an interview.

YADIS focuses on three thematic areas; its supporting the development of youth, agri-preneurs and the Savannah Agriculture Development Authority (SADA) zone. “We are in a country where the median age is 21 years. You look at the average age of farmers and its close to 50.  So, there is a mismatch. So, we are trying to create a success profile. What a successful youthful farmer looks like,” he explained. “We put aside what used to happen when you think of a farmer. Now, they see farming as a business. How do you manage your books? You have suppliers. You can negotiate forward contracts… You understand problems and how to solve them. From suppliers to inputs, managing your partnership and so on. We even have classroom training sessions and so it is very in-depth, Mr. Boateng explained.

Anthony Ngosi, regional technical lead for Markets at Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said the initiative has helped the youth produce aflatoxins free maize which they have been able to sell to companies like Nestle to produce baby foods abroad. This was previously not possible because a lot of the maize from Ghana contained high levels of aflatoxins.

Sahel Grains implements the YADIS program and buys the grains produced by the farmers for further cleaning and aggregation, while Nestlé provides technical assistance and ready market for the high-quality gains. “For example, here in Ghana, there was a very big problem with aflatoxins in maize. Maize couldn’t be exported to sensitive markets which require high quality maize for baby food. Nestle was having to import maize from all over the world. But by working with youth, we have been able to reduce aflatoxins in maize and this has provided lucrative markets for Ghanaian farmers and to export maize to Europe and other places,” he said. “Through the project, they have been able to produce maize for Nestle and firms like that…” Ngosi added.

 

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