Agriculture not the preserve of illiterates – Minister

Farmers working on a farmThe Upper West Regional Minister, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, has urged Ghanaians to disabuse their minds of the notion that farming is the preserve of the illiterate.

“Agriculture abounds with numerous opportunities which can be harnessed to address the levels of unemployment in the country”,he said  and explained that  the notion that it was a venture for illiterates continued to be a militating factor working against the youth.

“We continue to say agriculture is for illiterates and yet we keep encouraging all our youth to go to school. The question that arises is, who will go into agriculture if all our children become educated one day?” he stressed.

Alhaji Sulemani, who was addressing the annual meeting of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC) here, yesterday, said agriculture continued to be the mainstay of the country’s economy and thus, could not be left in the hands of the aged.

He said it was important that the youth were encouraged to engage in it if the growing unemployment in the country is to be brought under control.

The Regional Minister said that government had introduced various projects aimed not only at increasing productivity but also make it attractive for the youth to undertake agriculture as a means of employment.

He said apart from the Rice Sector Support Project (RSSP) and the EDAIF Rice Projects currently ongoing in the region, fish cages have also increased from 12 to 57 and the West African Regional Fisheries Project is currently ongoing in the region.

Besides, he noted that government continues to support farmers in fish farming and guinea fowl production and assured that any youth who decided to venture into agriculture would receive the necessary support required.

Touching on employment creation in the region, Alhaji Sulemani said the National Board for Small Scale Industries and Rural Enterprises (NBSSI) had made greater impact in the region.

He explained that between 2012 and 2015, about 4,554 people benefitted from training under their programmes thereby creating jobs, adding that “In 2015, 716 new jobs were created for 273 males and 443 females. Again, 394 new businesses were also established during the period under review.”

Alhaji Sulemani stated that apart from these, the region received its fair share of social intervention programmes and other initiatives which have gone a long way to improve the livelihoods of the deprived and the vulnerable in society.

He explained that the implementation of the Livelihood Empowerment and Alleviation of Poverty (LEAP), the Ghana Social Opportunities Project (GSOP) and the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP) had also transformed the lives of the people.

“It is expected that LEAP will expand to cover 614 communities with 37,240 beneficiaries by the end of 2016. The introduction of the Biometric membership system has increased the membership of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS),” he emphasized.

From Cliff Ekuful, Wa                

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