The government wants more private sector support in creating jobs for the nation’s growing youthful population.
Seth Osei Akoto, Director of Crop Services at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, said this at the launch of Agric Management System (AMS), an innovative end-to-end solution and the Virtual Farmer Programme (VFP), which are set to revolutionalise Ghana’s agricultural sector, by UCL Ghana Limited and its partner Oz Agribusiness Projects and Investments Limited (OAPI).
He noted that the need to create jobs led to the promotion of the Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP), under the Planting for Food and Jobs campaign, as a vehicle for attracting and motivating the youth into accepting and appreciating farming as a profitable venture.
“The challenge of youth unemployment in Ghana is an outmost priority to government. According to the Ghana Statistical Services, the youth constitute 40percent of the labour force with an unemployment rate of 12.8percent. Government therefore welcomes partnerships from the private sector in addressing this challenge,” he said.
Mr. Akoto lauded UCL Ghana and its partners OAPI for the initiative to transform the agriculture sector and assured of government’s support for a successful implementation.
The AMS is the first ever fully automated solution developed in the agriculture industry, to seamlessly manage the entire supply chain; whereas, the VFP seeks to increase the yield of crop produced in Ghana.
The initiative which is being supported by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, aims at attracting those working in the formal sector as means of earning additional income whilst increasing productivity in agriculture.
Mr. Akoto said the programme was expected to provide employment to about 33,000 unemployed youth, increase food supply and export earnings and minimize rural-urban migration.
Haim Oz, Chief Executive Officer for OAPI, said his outfit’s involvement would be at two levels; thus, transferring the know how to farmers, to develop their capacity to boost food production; and investment package for the projects.
Mr. Oz noted that aside financing being a major challenge within the agricultural sector, another problem was how to attract the youth who would be willing to partake in the new age of farming.
According to the Director of UCL, Samuel Duodu, most of government’s intervention on farming has been geared towards the smallholder farmers hence their decision to introduce the programme to benefit the working group.
“A lot of formal sector workers aspire to be farmers, they sit in their offices and they cannot be farmers because they cannot move from their desk. The Virtual Farms scheme gives them the opportunity to buy shares in existing farms to be farmers,” he said.
Explaining how the scheme works, he said Virtual Farms is working in collaboration with the Agric Ministry and interested persons are to pick a form, fill and submit to the Ministry.
Some background checks will be done on the applicant including financial credibility before finally being allowed to join the programme.
Mr. Duodu said they are currently producing less than 20 metric tonnes per hectare for tomatoes but with the introduction of the scheme, the yield will be tripled. “Onion yield will also be tripled and people will see new farming technology, mechanisms and it also means making more money for Ghana,” he said.
As the global population approaches nine billion by 2050, farmers around the world including Ghana would need to increase their productivity by 70percent to cater for the rising demand; UCL has positioned itself as one of the companies working towards the realization of this dream in Ghana.