Youth leaders present policy recommendations to Northern Region Minister aimed at unlocking youth interests in Agriculture

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Leaders of two youth groups in Ghana’s Northern Region, the Northern Region Youth Parliament and the Northern Region Youth Network, have jointly presented a communiqué highlighting challenges holding back Ghanaian youths from actively pursuing agricultural ventures to the Northern Regional Minister.

The document, developed from deliberations of an Agriculture Youth Policy Dialogue organized by the USAID Feed the Future Ghana Policy LINK in Tamale on August 10, also discusses, along six thematic areas, opportunities in government programs and policies, which, when leveraged, can enhance young people’s interest in the sector and, among others, safeguard Ghana’s food security and nutrition.

Alhassan Musah Timtooni, the speaker of the Northern Region Youth Parliament, led the two youth groups and presented the policy document to the Regional Minister on behalf of youth in northern Ghana.

Present at the meeting, facilitated by Policy LINK, were government officials from the Northern Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), Northern Regional Department of Agriculture, Ghana Enterprise Agency (GEA), and the National Youth Authority (NYA).

The Chief of Party of the USAID Feed the Future Ghana Market Systems and Resilience Activity and staff, representatives of the Savannah Women Integrated Development Agency (SWIDA), a local non-government organisation, and the Centre for Agriculture Productivity and Policy Studies (CAPPS) of the University for Development Studies (UDS) were also present.

According to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA), in its Youth in Agriculture Program, addressing Ghana’s ageing farmer population is key to sustaining its agriculture sector.

With a life expectancy ranging between 55 and 60 years, having a farmer population with an average of 55 years raises dire concerns about the country’s future food production, nutrition, and economic stability.

Yet, the majority of the population between 15 and 24, who make up nearly 19 % of the country’s population, seem uninterested in agriculture, even if the sector offers opportunities to solve increasing youth unemployment, underemployment, and poverty.

Most Ghanaian youth who show much interest in digital technologies consider agriculture as an outmoded occupation, unprofitable, and less prestigious, and therefore seek careers that offer higher social status and perceived high financial rewards.

For those already engaged in or interested in agriculture, limited access to finance, land, markets, and infrastructure strongly discourages them from staying on or taking up spaces in the sector.

Hon. Shani Alhassan Saibu, the Northern Regional Minister, on receiving the communiqué remarked that the government, through interventions like the U-Start program, the Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), the Microfinance and Loans Centre (MASLOC), was doing its bit to attract the youth to the sector.

He added that “the youth should, therefore, leverage these initiatives to succeed in their quest to venture into Agribusinesses.” The Minister also committed to ensuring that the communiqué recommendations are implemented at the sub-national level.

With the introduction and implementation of innovative strategies and interventions that draw the youth to become more interested in the sector, Ghana’s bleak future in agriculture, food production, and nutrition can be reversed.

Policy LINK, through the August 10 Agriculture Youth Policy Dialogue, its Leadership for Change (L4C) initiative, and a host of other interventions targeted at the youth, is directly contributing to, and collaborating with government, development partners, and other stakeholders to deliver a myriad of activities aimed at attracting more youth into agriculture.

Hajia Hawa Musah, the Regional Director of Agriculture encouraged youth in urban centres to actively collaborate and bring along their rural peers to make their voices and ideas heard on agriculture policy formulation and implementation, emphasising that this will enhance the accomplishment of their collective interests in the sector.

He also encouraged the youth to take advantage of the recently launched PFJ Phase II to enhance their economic fortunes.

Alhaji Inusah Abukari, the Northern Region Economic Planning Officer disclosed that the communiqué will be discussed at the upcoming regional coordination review meeting with Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs).

The recommendations will be incorporated in the Annual Action Plans of the Assemblies, and their progress will be tracked in the quarterly reports MMDA submits to the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC).

Also read: Zambia: US’s Feed the Nation project key to feeding the future

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