Regional Technical Lead For Markets at AGRA West Africa Anthony Ngosi says more youth need to take up business opportunities in agriculture if African countries can ensure food security for the populace.
He is urging governments and development partners to increase support for youth involvement in agricultural programmes to help make the continent food secure.
Speaking to Asaase Radio’s Emmanuel Aboagye Wiafe on “The 12 O’Clock Report” ahead of World Food Day, he noted agriculture can provide a lot of employment and help ensure the energies of young people are channeled appropriately. Saturday’s World Food Day celebration is under the theme, “our actions are our future – better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life.”
“Youth involvement in agriculture is very important because we are in an era when youth employment is causing a lot of social problems across the African continent,” Mr. Ngosi observed.
He cited South Sudan, Burundi and Somalia, as some of the countries where youth unemployment has been responsible for a lot of instability and socio-economic upheavals. “There has also been rural – urban migration and a lot of youth are trying to cross the Sahara Desert to Europe. So, this is a very big problem,” Mr. Ngosi said.
He said there are lots of opportunities in the agricultural sector that government and development partners should be investing in for the benefit of the youth. “The youth are quick to adopt technologies. They can use innovative tools. They can improve efficiency across the value chain,” he observed.
Mr. Ngosi says the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has rolled out an initiative called the Youth Agri-preneurship Development in the SADA-Zone (YADIS) which is a good model that can help provide job opportunities for the youth.
YADIS which AGRA runs in collaboration with Nestle and Sahel Grains Limited has trained hundreds of youth agri-preneurs on good agricultural practices and provided them with support. This has helped them produce aflatoxins free maize which they have been able to sell to companies like Nestle to produce baby foods. 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.“Through the project, they have been able to produce maize for Nestle and firms like that…” Mr. Ngosi said.
Kwame Boateng who is CEO of Sahel Grains Limited said YADIS focuses on empowering youth aged between 20 and 25 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.