The Ghana Association of Agricultural Economists (GAAE) held its third annual conference at the ISSER Conference Facility- University of Ghana, Legon from July 23-26, 2019.
The conference theme was Sustainable agriculture and national development: Finance, Markets and Job creation. The three-day conference brought together academia, researchers, industry partners and young entrepreneurs interested in developing careers in agribusiness. Apart from plenary discussion on the theme, there were poster and oral presentations as well as exhibitions.
Panel discussions on four key issues:
Sustainable Agriculture: Ecological Versus Genetic Intensification,
Relevance and Perspectives for Socio-economic Development of Ghana;
Job Creation in Agri-preneurship for the Youth; Modernizing Farmers or Farming: Where should the emphasis be?
Agricultural Finance and Markets: Options for Agribusiness Development in Ghana.
These issues were discussed with interesting contributions from the panel members. YPARD Ghana was represented by the country representative, Kafui Agbe was a discussant on the Job Creation in Agri-preneurship for the Youth panel. The key propositions made as a pathway for Job Creation for youth by the Country Representative include:
Sensitization - (entrepreneurship; value chain opportunities): Theres a need for the youth to be taken through the various opportunities within the value chain. Entrepreneurship program should be introduced in the senior high-level curricula to prepare the minds of young people towards the development of businesses to meet societal needs. Practical agriculture sections and field trips should be inculcated into the educational system to help secure the future of agriculture in the country and help create the needed jobs.
Ideation and incubation: Young people must be helped to generate ideas within the agri-food system through incubation. Incubation programmes such as Creating Champions in Livestock Agribusinesses (CCLEAr), Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC), Guzakuza, among others must be supported and strengthened with the needed capacity in this direction.
Acceleration of innovative early-stage start-ups: Structured acceleration programme is needed to support scalable ideas through seed funding and capacity building. KIC through the incubation programme has produced more than nine AgTech start-ups and supported them with seed capital and office spaces. KIC has also provided a platform for identified AgTech start-up to enhance mentoring, networking and advisory support. These support schemes enable these businesses to stand, however, this support scheme is not effective in the other incubators such as CCLEAr thus making the businesses established by start-ups through their capacity building programmes falling apart.
Addressing sustainability issues: Enterprises established by youth must be built sustainably. This can be achieved through integrating successful youth innovation into government programmes, targeted financing scheme, creation of market linkages, continue mentoring, among others. For instance, the innovation developed by Trotro Tractor Ltd to connect smallholder farmers to mechanization should be an integral part of the Government of Ghanas Planting for Food and Jobs Programme. Similarly, Akokotakra, a farm management software developed to enable poultry farmer to record, monitor, keep track and analyze all their farm operations easily should be integrated into the Rearing for Food and Job Programme to help poultry productivity in the country. Targeted financing scheme with low-interest rates for young entrepreneurs and good market linkage for products and services will help sustain young people in agribusiness.
YPARD Ghana strongly believes that when this pathway is followed job creation in agri-preneurship for the teeming young population of Africa will be achieved to help reduce youth unemployment.