In academic circles, the subject of socialization is generally defined as a process where an individual internalizes the norms and ideologies of society. This definition is a significant truism that anchors on the totality of our culture; which has agriculture as a fundamental feature.
Before modernity pulled our population from the hinterlands to cosmopolitan life, agriculture was the indisputable lifeblood of the Ghanaian nation; doubling as a prime job provider and food basket.
Today, if the definition of socialization will remain relevant, its role in the hugely important agriculture sector must be highlighted for society to appreciate the unique and important role of all agents of socialization; who collectively can jump-start the long overdue revival of Ghana’s agric sector.
The five (5) primary agents of socialization, identified as family, school, media, religion and peers have a comprehensive role to play if the prospects of the agric sector will shine bright soon. Put together, the agents of socialization have enormous influence that could take our agric sector to the lofty heights needed to re-establish it as the mainstay of the Ghanaian economy.
The family structure is regarded as the most important agent of socialization because it has the earliest and most enduring influence in the life of an individual. This makes it an ideal fit for “agro-socialization”.
Fact finding efforts aimed at reenergizing the agric sector have shown that, top of the pile of issues bedevilling agriculture in Ghana is a mentality problem. The mind-set of the youth especially regarding agric is deflating to say the least; and for a section of society in whose hands the future of Ghana lies, this analysis makes for grim reading.
Thankfully, Salvation appears not farfetched as the family represents the best institution to lead efforts at sensitising its young on the positive impact of agric on their lives and that of the society. The family is a useful ally that must be engaged to take active part in introducing agric to its young members especially as a path that leads to prosperity.
Every society is a reflection of prevalent family practices and believes. This means that if agric is suffering wrong image perfection today, the family system cannot be exonerated of blame. When agric was the pride and mainstay of the Ghanaian economy, it was because the indigenous family structure supported agric through and through. Those were the days when almost every Ghanaian child was conversant with the full life cycle of crops like cocoa, maize, cassava, yam, etc. A lot has happened since then and the agric sector though full of potential, has not fared greatly.
It’s time to turn the tide in favour of agric; and the family has a key role. Families in Ghana must be encouraged through public sensitisation to own at least one agric enterprise. Families could choose between ventures like poultry, bee, dairy, fish farming etc.
Because financial constraint is a steadfast reality for most Ghanaian homes, this ventures could be small-to medium scale; with their primary aim to provide quality and sufficient food at home. Additionally, this has the potential to cut off a substantial chunk of the countries unemployment pile as families who are fully engaged in other fields of endeavour would certainly employ the services of others to help. Through this, the awareness of the importance of agric would light up at the family level and ascend up to the larger society where it will blossom once again as Ghana’s job provider and food basket.
Recent calls by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to resuscitate declining interest in agric education in basic school are a welcome development that requires the backing of all stakeholders. The call, if heeded will however be only a fraction of the massive work that remains to be done if schools will fully play their role in the development of agric in Ghana.
According to sociologists, school follows the family closely in order of importance as it represents the first port of call for children once their families consider them matured enough for formal education. This is why our school-system must commit to doing its best if efforts to give new life to agric will stand the test of time.
Practical aspects of agric must be allowed to gain root in our schools while theoretical lessons are also revised to become more appealing and state -of –the- art.
The practice in some boarding schools where crops from school farms are used to feed students must be encouraged nationally. However caution must be taken to ensure that it doesn’t rob students of contact time for other class lessons or become a source of cheap labour for unscrupulous school heads.
At the tertiary level, a revisit of the agric programs available to would- be undergraduates needs to be revised and relisted to encourage interest. University students should also be encouraged to produce research studies that would be reviewed and used to leverage efforts to develop the country’s agric sector.
As a cardinal agent of socialization, the role of the media is huge and multifaceted. The vibrant Ghanaian media through its development- communication niche presents the country a useful tool for promoting agriculture.
Already, the presence of documentaries, TV talk shows, newspaper columns etc. is encouragement that the media is contributing to agric. The big question however is, how much more can the media do? The answer is obvious and emphatic-a lot more than it is currently doing.
First the media must leverage on its core mandate of educating the public by consistently designing and dishing content that would help rural folks especially; who represent a great percentage of Ghana’s agriculture workforce.
On social media the mainstream media, agric stakeholders must ignite an agricultural renaissance to awaken the consciousness of the youth towards agriculture as a means of sustainable employment. Also the media could through this mechanism package and frame agric in such a way that it becomes appealing to its teeming youth audience.
Musicians must lend their voice by not only designing jingles for paid agriculture promos but they must promote agriculture through their videos and lyrics. Also, local films must deliberately project themes and content that would chronicle how agric has and is continually changing lives.
For the ardent patrons of the numerous Mexican soap-opera on our local TV channels, it is not uncommon to see a lot of agro-cultural themes lined side- by- side the dominant theme of love. It’s often interesting to see how the Mexicans cherish and adore their horses and cattle. In fact there is hardly any one of such soap-operas without some reference or actual scene of a ranch. This is a brilliant example that our film makers must be encouraged to adopt. Bollywood and Hollywood are a representation of cultures of India the United States respectively. Ghana’s Ghallywood and Kumawood must therefore ensure that our movie scripts are tailored to depict our culture-which has agriculture as its focal point.
As a country that prides itself as ‘God’s own country’ Ghana could do more to develop agriculture through religion. Religion is regarded a great deal in Ghana and its effort in education and healthcare provision is testament to the many roles it plays in national life. When it comes to the subject of agriculture however religion seems detached. This shouldn’t be the case as examples in neighbouring Nigeria have shown that religion can make enormous contributions to agric development.
In Nigeria, specifically in the north-east, local churches save a portion of the churches offertory and invest in agriculture every year. Because that region of the country is predominantly involved in farming, the churches find it convenient to invest in agric.
Most of the churches own large expanse of land which they convert to farmlands during farming seasons. For others the land is either rented or volunteered by devote church members. Once the land is secured, a day- usually within weekends is earmarked to work on the farm at designated dates. Collectively, the yield harvested by churches from that region is thought to account for about 20% of crop harvest yield from the countries northeast.
For Ghana, the Nigerian example of religion’s involvement in agriculture is a practice worthy of emulation. The inroads made by Ghanaian religious bodies in health and education sectors is a positive indication that religion will be a formidable partner for driving Ghana’s agric sector towards development.
With government desperate to create jobs for Ghana’s teeming unemployed youth, agriprenuership has emerged as a viable mechanism for job creation. Start-up capital however remains a challenge that keeps most of the youth from venturing into the world of agriculture.
Generally, the youth look up to the government with hope but are often left unsatisfied by the magnitude of support that meets their pleas for help from government. This impediment has caused big agric dreams and ideas to die off before they have a chance to see light of day.
This much publicised challenge has an unlikely but quite effective solution that the youth should explore. The youth could invest personal savings amongst groups of friends with similar agric ideas .Through this, they can raise enough funds to kick –start their agro initiatives.
There is strength in numbers and so the youth must take advantage of their peers by organising forums to discuss and share ideas that could make their journey into agriculture eventful, fun and fulfilling.
There is so much that can be done to infuse more zest in efforts to help the agric sector reclaim its pride of place among Ghana’s elite industries. Considering the huge importance of the sector, no effort is too big to make, if it guarantees development of the sector.
The focus has centred on government for too long; and if agriculture will succeed, deliberate efforts must be made to look elsewhere. Until this is done, help so desperately needed to grow the sector will simply lie untapped while we berate government for inadequate support.
Agriculture has enormous potential but this doesn’t mean it cannot thrive with simple but intelligent ideas. Sometimes all we need to do to push the sector is a simple, well -thought –of idea to be championed by someone or an entity other than the government.