The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), under its Youth in Export Programme (YiEP), has oriented 100 youths to undergo training in agricultural production for the export market.
The 100 youths, selected through a competitive process, will receive six months of training in agriculture, arts and crafts, among others, to build their production capacity and enable them to start production for export.
GEPA is optimistic that the YiEP initiative will help to increase the production and shipping of non-traditional exports to achieve a revenue target of US$25.3billion by 2028.
Speaking at the orientation ceremony for the new cohort, Chief Executive Officer of GEPA, Dr. Afua Asabea Asare, explained that YiEP aims at building the capacity of youth who are interested in agriculture to take farming seriously, as it creates employment opportunities for them and others.
She mentioned that the initiative was developed based on the high demand for Ghanaian products within those categories on the international market, as the authority has noticed at the various trade fairs and exhibitions it has participated in abroad over the past few years.
“This programme was instituted some years ago to help the youth set up their own businesses, because most of the time when we travel out to sell Ghana on the global market we get orders of which we are not able to meet the demand quantities. And so we decided to use the youth to expand our raw material base by setting them up in these areas to produce more.
“We want to encourage the youth to be interested in areas that can create jobs and make them independent without necessarily looking for office jobs. We are determined to support them in whichever product they seek to produce,” she said.
The CEO further emphasised that beyond production for export, the programme is also focused on import substitution to produce enough goods like poultry, rice, toothpicks among others to reduce imports of those materials and save significant amounts of foreign exchange.
On completion of the six-month training, graduates will be supported with start-up kits containing the key inputs and resources needed to start their business in the respective fields they find themselves.
Director of Projects, Alexander Dadzawa, on his part urged the trainees to take lessons seriously and ensure they take good advantage of this opportunity to start small and grow into something big, as there will be a ready market for their products.
“We are here to provide you with the necessary support once you have graduated. We will find you land, seedlings, technology and other start-up materials to ensure you are able to set off successfully.
“It is also designed to be an avenue for the youth to earn decent incomes from agricultural and other exports,” he said.
He added that the 20 youths that were trained in the pilot project have all been set-up and are doing very well in their respective production fields.
A YiEP graduate, Mary Adjei – who is into pineapple production, reiterated how the training and support mechanism has helped her to become a successful entrepreneur. She urged youths across the country who are still looking for jobs to consider farming as a profession, rather than chasing white-collar jobs which are difficult to find.