This interview was conducted by Essel Cobbina, YPARD Europe Intern. In the frame of the Wege Prize competition. The Wege Prize is an annual competition that encourages college/university students worldwide to work together across institutional, disciplinary, and cultural boundaries to reinvent how economies work, culminating in game-changing future inventions.
I would like to introduce Victoria Akwamaa Yeboah, a member of the WEGE 2021's award-winning team for AGRITRADE-HUB, an organic mushroom company in Ghana. She is a Leventis Foundation scholar and a BSc student In Agricultural Sciences at Earth University in Costa Rica. She is the production manager of MAYHAY fruits company, a business organisation where she collaborates on dry fruit production along with four other students from different countries.
Victoria was born in the Brong region of Ghana, where she attended the Sunyani Senior High School and, as she points out, was one of the few girls in her science class. Her interest in agriculture began when she was a child, as her parents and neighbours were all farmers.
She takes us through her journey in agriculture and in winning the WEGE 2021 award. Together with her team, AGRITRADE HUB. We are five students from different academic disciplines yet with one vision. Each department cultivates the values that consolidate the team – integrity, creativity, responsibility and mutual support. Every team member also possesses the passion and skills to drive the group to its vision and materialise our project. Our transdisciplinary formation helps to direct our attention to multiple approaches in addressing issues. Also, in creating solutions, we integrate and interconnect the perspectives of our diverse academic disciplines.
When asked about what inspired her team to take on this challenge, she answers that they "Believe that it is everyone's responsibility to contribute a good quota to the progress of society. And this belief inspired us and brought forth the desire to improve the quality of livelihoods in our country. We were very attentive to some of the challenging issues surrounding us, and we realised that the wood waste menace was very problematic and needed to be tackled. We aimed at solving this problem in a way that would positively affect social, economic and environmental development. We also recognise and are motivated by the rewards of our solution, thus promoting sustainable agriculture, conservation of natural resources, creation of employment, provision of adequate food nourishment of which constitute some of the most compelling impacts of our solution."
On their plans for the future, she said "Our proposed mushroom setup is under construction in Kumasi-Ghana. Even though we have been making productions and sales from our mini mushroom house, we are looking forward to completing our modern setup, launching our business officially and expanding to other areas of Ghana". As for her own plans she states that her passion for agriculture "Comes from the zeal I have to combat food spoilage and contamination. The endless possibilities of the knowledge I will acquire are also a great source of inspiration for what made me pursue education in agriculture."
Also, as a young professional, entrepreneur and philanthropist she believes that "The application of the knowledge and skills I will acquire in this field will provide opportunities for me to specialise in Food Science which fits in perfectly into my long term educational and career goals. I hope to contribute to ensuring sustainable food systems in my capacity, especially in my country."
Photo credit: Victoria Akwamaa Yeboah
On the role of youth in the present and future of agriculture, she says that "The youth constitute a large size of the population. Their reactions will affect their families, communities, and countries at a large scale. They play a crutial role in their development and that of society. Technological innovation is an essential role of the youth. The youth can change the shape of demand for food, through promoting linkages along the food value chain, through the social media and create effective production systems."
On challenges and needs of youth in the agricultural sector "Many young people look at the agricultural sector as being for rural people or even illiterates. Farming is often portrayed as outdated, unprofitable, and hard work. Stakeholders and policymakers should put strategies in place to make agriculture appealing to the youth, bring them into this field and create change drivers for the improvement."
Finally, she believes that to promote youth in agriculture we must "Design policies of startups in agribusiness, providing physical infrastructure and processing facilities, and food hubs for the youth. This would provide alternatives to conventional processing and distribution and also create jobs. Should I be in the capacity, there should be openings for community service, occupations, and exposure of young people to entrepreneurship Programs and opportunities in the food system that will help fight off unemployment issues."
It's safe to say that Victoria is a young professional to keep an eye on.
Thank you for representing us well, I'm impressed to see a young lady working hard in the mushroom industry. I am also a mushroom producer and mushroom value addition. I have been able to also develop mushroom swallow, mushroom spice, mushroom honey etc. I want to say thank you for representing us.
We could work together and see how well, we could organise a training for interested persons
Both on marketing, production and value addition of mushroom
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