FAO holds workshop on women and youth-led agribusiness start-ups

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has organized a technical workshop on women and youth-led agribusiness start-up in Ghana.

The workshop is part of efforts to facilitate the inclusion of women and youth in responsible investment in Agriculture and food systems on Responsible Agricultural Investment (RAI).

Previously, the FAO supported two-multi-stakeholder discussions through an online forum, where participants exchange information and discuss concrete activities to empower women and youth.

Participants of these workshops identified gender and youth issues as particularly relevant to their needs and interests in relation to RAI and requested more opportunities for multi-stakeholder dialogue on these topics.

Mr Jesper Karlsson, Foreign Investment Specialist, FAO, speaking at the workshop said interactions with young people revealed that land access was one of the difficulty that created the barriers to engage and invest in agriculture production.

The workshop was to raise awareness of the importance of involving women and youth in RAl, discuss bottlenecks and opportunities for women and youth-led agribusiness start-ups, explore possible areas of collaborations with private and public stakeholders in the sector.

He said on issues of Land access, there was no clear information about, where land was available, which land was designated to farming, forestry, estate, because farmers had lost their lands to activities of mining due to unclear tenure rights.

He said agriculture of course was much more than production and it included processing, wholesaling and retailing among others.

He said there were huge opportunities in the value-chain in terms of value additions, bridging gaps between rural and urban areas.

The Specialist said participatory land mapping was one way to involve communities with all-important actors such as customary authorities, local government, civil society and the private sector to ensure that, where there were disputes, those disputes were resolved in a way that was acceptable to local actors.

On land mapping, Karlsson said at present, information was incomplete because some geographical areas lacked precise information of who owned the land, what type of land was available, because there might be conflicting claims and currently a lot of the documentation was paper-based, which was not so secure.

He said the young people have suggested that a mobile app be developed, where they could access information on the type of land that was available, what type of processes were there to acquire land to enable young people to savvy to the internet for information.

Mr Emmanuel Sin-Nyet Asigri, the Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority said historically, women and the youth have played key roles as far as agriculture in Ghana was concerned.

He said coming from an area that was predominately made-up of farmers and having seen the roles women and young people have played in helping their husbands and parents on the farm.

He said, “l am not surprised at all at the trend of young women taking up agribusiness as a serious economic activity.”

He said the country had a young population with a resultant unemployment situation, where young people seek to enter the country’s workforce too many times without success.

The CEO said this trend depicted a huge challenge of youth

unemployment, however, this could well be seen as an opportunity for these teeming youth to become the driving force of new agriculture and agribusiness enterprises as well as rural transformation.

“In this regard, government has introduced the youth in agriculture programme, planting for food and jobs, which has other modules like the planting for export and rural development and rearing for food and jobs,” he added.

He said on the side of the Authority, they have piloted the “Youth Livelihood Farms” as a complement to government’s planting for food and jobs programme.

Towards this, a 120-acre maize farm was cultivated in the Upper West Region for which, one hundred and twenty young people were enrolled on with 30 per cent of them being females.

Mr Asigri through the Authority, they have also piloted poultry project at the Youth Leadership and Skills Training Institute at Afienya with about 2, 000 layers.

He urged the young women and the youth to take advantage of government’s initiatives in the agriculture sector to realise their long nurtured dreams of establishing sustainable agribusinesses.

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