The 2018 National Best Farmer, James Boateng has challenged the youth to venture into agriculture, stressing that the sector is profitable.
He said agriculture could offer the youth better livelihood as white collar jobs and should enter the sector instead of sitting at home doing nothing.
Mr Boateng, who was speaking at the opening of the third edition of the Agric Students Career Guidance and Mentorship Dialogue (AG-STUD) Bootcamp in Accra , encouraged the youth not be discouraged by the notion that agriculture was risky, and shun the sector.
The four-day programme being organised by Agrihouse Foundation, a non-governmental organisation building the capacity of the youth and women in the agribusiness space was on the theme “Growing futures: Establishing the agric youth.”
It is under the auspices of adb, OCP, Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Rockland Farms, Labianca, New Okaff, Addfra Global and Naanam Ventures.
It is was attended by 40 students from the AG-STUD Business clubs of the University of Ghana, University of Cape Coast, University of Development Studies Nyankpala Campus, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Energy and Natural Resources, Asuansi Farm Institute, Kwadaso Agricultural College, Fiver River Farms and The Northern Agric-Youth Hub.
Also about 700 agric students from some senior high schools in Accra would take part in the daily sessions of the event.
Mr Boateng who worked as a top corporate executive with multinational companies such as Coca-Cola and Cadbury and now engaged in full time agriculture, expressed worry about the tagging of agriculture as risky, arguing that every business venture was risky.
He said the growing demand for food and cash crops locally and internationally made agriculture a lucrative business.
For instance, the 2018 Best Farmer said the value of the annual global demand for mango was $90 billion, but Ghana could only export $200 million worth of mangoes every year.
“As new people are born every day, there will be demand for food to feed such mouths,” he said.
Mr Boateng advised the youth who want to enter into agriculture to do things differently from what their forefathers were doing.
To this end, he encouraged them to adopt technology and pursue good international and quality standards, as well as good safety and health standards in their farming business.
The Executive Director of Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa said the programme started in 2008 and is meant to encourage and mentor the youth to enter into agriculture.
“AG-STUD Africa was created three years ago to develop youth students’ knowledge of agriculture and agribusiness, the value chain system, and farm management skills in beginner farmers, and generally lead them to start appreciating agriculture from a new perspective,” she said.
Ms Akosa said through the programme Agrihouse Foundation has supported the aforementioned universities and colleges to form successful agricultural business clubs.
The Executive Director explained that the participants would be taken through hands-on-training and practical lessons to help them in their agribusiness projects, adding that some seasoned coaches and mentors had been invited to speak to the students.
Some of the students the Ghanaian Times spoke to commended Agrihouse Foundation for the programme, saying it had broadened their horizon and whipped up their interest in agriculture.
According to them, they viewed agriculture as business and not mere food and production.
BY KINGSLEY ASARE