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14.07.2005 Regional News

Ministry urges youth to take farming as a profession


Accra, July 14, GNA - Mr Joseph Kofi Ada, the Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, on Thursday said the ministry is engaged in youth employment issues with a priority on making farming attractive to them as a profession.

He said Ghana is economically agricultural and it stands to reason that solutions to problems of unemployment among the youth must be geared to what the agricultural sector could offer.

Mr Ada said this in Parliament in an answer to a question by Mr Joseph Tsatsu Agbenu, NDC MP for Afram Plains North, who wanted to know the incentive package the ministry has for the youth to encourage them to take to farming as a profession.

The minister said to give effect to the implementation of the programme the ministry is undertaking, it has been proposed that pilot schemes be established this year starting from districts with available irrigated lands.

The youth would be trained in basic agricultural skills and entrepreneurship through the Skills Training and Employment Placement (STEP) programme.

"We will also assist the youth to set up agricultural-based businesses by organising them into viable co-operatives for production, processing and marketing as well as arranging micro-financing through the STEP and the National Youth Fund."

The Minister said feedback from teams sent to the regions to undertake a survey of land availability and types of crops to cultivate indicates that lands acquired for the defunct State Farms are available and some chiefs and landowners are willing to release lands for farming. "Tackling this problem requires a multi-sector approach and the ministry is playing a central and co-ordinating role with the ministries of Food and Agriculture, Private Sector Development and Presidential Special Initiatives, Trade and Industry, Science and Technology, Lands, Forestry and Mines, and Local Government and Rural Development." Mr Ada said the multi-sector body would team up with financial institutions for additional micro-finance schemes to young farmers at reasonable terms.

It would also provide mechanised services, equipment, seed, fertilizers and agro-chemicals and make extension services available to the young farmers for increased production. "It is hoped that with these plans and measures, th e youth will be attracted to the land and unemployment among the youth would be largely reduced," he said. 14 July 05