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Viewing youth engagement from my experience at The MasterCard Foundation Young Africa Works Summit 2017

My name is Emmanuel Fiifi Musah and I am a second-year Agribusiness student of the premier Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Ghana as well as a MasterCard Foundation Scholar.

I come from the Central part of Ghana but throughout my life, I have lived in the Volta Northern part of Ghana where agriculture is predominantly the mainstay economic activity. I am currently the founder of “Destiny Initiative for Agricultural Transformation (DIFAT)” an agriculture oriented initiative which connects farmers to readily available markets through contract farming to help minimize the intensity of risks that both the marketers and the producers face in the agricultural sector.

As a young person, agriculture interests me so much mainly because it is the only sector among others whose numerous resources are yet to be exploited. This, coupled with the numerous opportunities along its value chain from the farm gate to the dining table surprise with each passing day.

It is this similar surprise I found at The MasterCard Foundation Young Africa Works Summit (YAW2017) Summit especially when you look at the conference from a youth in agriculture angle. Many conferences are organized for the youth but the Young Africa Works Summit it was organized with the youth and for the youth. My undaunted experiences began right from the onset of the pre-summit webinars which ran from self- introduction through communication, networking and finally to making the most of the Summit. The pre-Summit webinars were powerfully and inspirationally packed presentations which got me enlightened, connected and open-minded to ‘think outside the box’. My confidence to speak in public and pitch my ideas were tremendously boosted. In relation to the ‘Purpose Road Map’, I had been able to utilize this module to serve as a driving force of my life. Giving feedback was something I found very difficult to do but the webinar and pre-summit workshop prepared me by giving me more insights to better do this using the Behavior Impact and Consequence (BIC) module without negatively affecting others. 

The last webinar “Making the Most of the Summit” gave me all I needed to know before the actual summit. Having the opportunity to hear from the YAW2015 Alumni was very promising as they gave the tips on how to get involved in the summit in relation to how to better network, items to bring along from my home country etc. The pre-summit workshop catalyzed my participation in the YAW2017 as a youth delegate by enhancing my listening skills ahead of the main conference. 

The youth of today face numerous challenges with regards to entry and participation in agriculture. Although the young people are vibrant, energetic and industrious, they are less endowed with capital resources which could have been used to supplement all the hard and tedious labor on the farm since they do not want to do those laborious activities by themselves. In addition to this, due to the social stigma associated with agriculture and the faint brand name was given to it as for the ‘block minded people’, it inhibits many creative, innovative, young and fresh ideas to venture into it. Moreover, many youth look at agriculture with their on-farm lens without using the off-farm lens. This makes them ignorant about the enormous opportunities that are available in agriculture along the value chain.

To battle these challenges, mentorship can be used to break the hardcore of ignorance through education and training, travel and tour and personal experiences of the mentors. Attending such an international summit, I gained the global exposure, new skills, and experiences which strategies have been far advanced to be used as soon as possible. The skill to be a team player is one of the few I had developed and started to use last week. 

Meeting professionals from all walks of life and innovative young people across the African continent with their unique experiences and achievements makes one aspire for greater heights especially when you meet young people like Laetitia Victoria Mukungu.With these, I am more than ready to stay connected with other participants after the summit.

Onwards and forwards!

Photo Courtesy: Illume for The MasterCard Foundation