OPINION: THE YOUTH IN AGRICULTURE: An Idea Whose Time Has Come
As Ghana Marks national farmers day,it is time to pause and reflect on Our overall disposition to Agriculture as a people with particular reference to the youth.
The occasion takes on an added significance this year in view of the fact that it is being marked in the midst of a global pandemic that has wrecked do much havoc on nations in various sectors of their economy,agriculture being no exception.
The theme of this year's celebration, "Agribusiness Development under COVID-19-opportunities and challenges", speaks volumes of government's appreciation of the pandemic's overall effect on the country's agricultural base,and the need to learn from the challenges posed.
The early months of the pandemic were characterised by protectionist tendencies by nations the world over.for Ghana,a country whose economy is import driven,there were fears that the pandemic could threaten the nation's food security.
Thankfully the country came out unscathed,but it is worth recalling the lessons learnt through this pandemic,to give hope to the future.the lesson is clear;the time has come to take conscious efforts to ensure food security and I believe there couldn't be a better time to have that discussion than now with emphasis on the youth of this country.
The Ghanaian youth have been conditioned to believe that agriculture or farming is the preserve of the less educated or the rural folks.this unfortunate mindset has found expression in the youth's comments and attitude anytime the subject of farming comes up for discussion and that must change.
The images of Ghanaians scurrying to our markets in a mad rush to stock up food as the country prepared for a lockdown earlier this year, buttresses the point that food remains arguably man's most important need.it is thus an irony that the most agile segment of the nation's citizenry see the very venture that produces the much needed food items as an endangered species.
The youth of this country need to undergo a revolution in though, and stop chasing the ever elusive white collar Jobs and see farming as a viable venture.but the state no doubt has a role to play in making farming attractive to the youth.
Issues of land acquisition,start up loans,unmotorable roads to and fro farming communities reanain stumbling blocks in the way of potential farmers.a collaborative effort between the state and banks aimed at churning out soft loans to young people who wish to venture into agriculture would be a huge relief. Working on the country's murky land tenure system will also help in easing the frustrations of would be farmers.
It is in this regard that one must commend the Akufo-Addo administration for its "planting for food and Jobs" initiative which seems to have yielded some positive dividends in the area of food sufficiency.such initiatives by governments going forward constitute a mark of faith in the nation's ability to lift itself out of hunger.
The Ghanaian youth must realise that seeing farming as a second rate venture is simply wrong and a backward mentality,the mass of unemployed youth walking the streets of Accra would do themselves a lot of good by seeing farming as a viable venture.the nation's decision to celebrate farmers yearly demonstrates our growing appreciation for farmers.
Food security remains the number one safeguard of a nation's security and it only makes sense that as white collar jobs shrink,the youth shift their attention to farming as an alternative,of course with the support of the state as eloquently argued in this piece.We wish our gallant farmers a happy farmers day!we truly appreciate their untiring efforts.
Credit: Rodney Tsenuokpor