Gov't Should Establish GH¢1bn Agric Fund For Youth — Prof Adei
Chairman of the National Development Planning Committee (NDPC), Prof Stephen Adei, has proposed the establishment of a GH¢1 billion agriculture fund for the youth to venture into agriculture.
He said the funds can then be disbursed to youths in agriculture through the rural banks across the country at an interest rate not exceeding 10percent.
He wants the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and the government to consider the proposal as a good way to help the agriculture industry and youths in Ghana.
Prof Adei made the suggestion at the second MASO Youth in Cocoa Conference 2019.
The event was held in Ho, the Volta Region capital, under the theme: “Professionalising Cocoa Farming: The Role of the Youth”.
Prof Adei also said because capital was crucial to the development of small businesses and cocoa-related businesses, the state and private financial houses need to focus attention on that sector.
He also suggested that in order to make cocoa farming a more viable source of livelihood and to attract the youth, it will be essential to recognise cocoa farming as a business.
That way, farmers can be trained to acquire the essential knowledge, skills and farm management practices that will ultimately to enable them to obtain higher incomes through higher productivity per hectare.
The Board Chairman of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) noted that higher productivity per hectare will also require access to good seed, fertilizer, water management and pesticides.
According to Prof Adei, to make cocoa farming attractive to the youth there is the need to sensitise the youth on the opportunities within the cocoa production value chain.
“Currently an insignificant number of young people are working in the sector let alone to add value to cocoa beans,“ he lamented.
Prof Adei said the government must intensify efforts to improve farmer skills through all-inclusive training programmes.
This all-inclusive training programmes must include literacy, numeracy and basic business and financial skills which can help farmers to effectively manage their cocoa farming businesses professionally.
“This needs to be done at multiple levels because even graduates who decide to venture into cocoa farming will need training on the business of cocoa farming,“ he said.
Project Manager of MASO Youth Network , Fred Frimpong, said the youth needs to be encouraged to take farming, especially cocoa farming, seriously.
“The medium level processing is another conversation and the kind of investment there is above the young people but within the space of production and farm support services, there is a huge opportunity for the youths,” he said.
He advised young people to start thinking outside the box to make their lives better.
The MASO Youth Network is made up of alumni from both the MASO Agro Academy and MASO Business Academy.
The network provides a platform for young people to connect, share ideas and best practices. The network will support them to inspire and challenge one another.
The Chairman of the MASO Youth Network, Peter Nsiah, said the spirit of togetherness provided by the network inspires young people to go beyond and above their limitations.
He said at MASO Youth Network, young cocoa entrepreneurs find the strength they need, the voice they lack and the confidence to confront their challenges and excel in various business and lives as a whole.
“Currently we are over 5000 members and we are gradually becoming a voice for young people in the cocoa sector. Our main aim is to provide a space for youth to connect, share knowledge and inspire one another. In MASO, we believe that when young people connect and share best practices with one another incredible things happen,” he said.