It’s no secret that agriculture is the main driving force behind Ghana’s economy, accounting for approximately 42% of the country’s GDP and employing 54% of its work force.
Quite unfortunately, it is also no secret that most young Ghanaians carry around distorted views about the agricultural sector; their role in the sector and whether or not the area has viable opportunities to offer. In light of these concerns, for some years now, the government of Ghana and the ministry of agriculture have rolled out several agricultural projects and initiatives such as, planting for food and jobs; rearing for food and jobs; planting for exports and rural development; one district, one factory project; tree crop development board; training extension officers, among others, all with the goal of changing the mindset of the young Ghanaian about agriculture.
On the private front, Agrihouse Foundation is at the forefront of agricultural capacity building, innovation and project management in the country, with special focus on changing the perception of, and consciously shaping the conversation around agriculture.
Agrihouse undertakes a number of agricultural interventional projects and events, all year round, for farmers, agric students, agribusinesses, households into backyard farming, among others, through its intentional and well-thought projects such as, Agricultural Students Career Guidance and Mentorship Dialogues Bootcamp (AG- STUD); Livestock Poultry & Fisheries Trade Show (LiPF); Women in Food and Agricultural Leadership Forum (WOFAGRIC) and Gold in the Soil Awards; Annual Pre-Harvest Agribusiness Conference and Exhibitions; The Agrihouse Agri-Woman Market Place; Agri-Watch; 1 household, 1 Garden Initiative (1h,1g)
Last week Wednesday, Agrihouse launched the 4th edition of Agricultural Students Career Guidance and Mentorship Dialogues Bootcamp (AG- STUD 2021) at the forecourt of its office premises, under strict COVID-19 protocol observations. This year’s bootcamp, which is on the theme, “We have Enabled and Established the Agri-youth! Time to scale them up to feed Ghana,” seeks to educate and empower students, beginner agribusinesses and participants with knowledge in best farming practices, particularly, in line with fertilizer application and proper use of inputs, farm management skills, agribusiness knowledge, industry innovations, soft skills and other competence based training sessions, that are critical to helping the Agri-youth become more resilient and positioned to support feed their communities and Ghana as a whole.
The successful launch was graced by agri-stakeholders and organizations, dignitaries and students who are passionate about youth in agriculture and consequently, share in the vision that Agrihouse is championing. They included, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman Rawlings, member of parliament for Korle Klottey Constituency; Madam Carianne De Boer, Chief of Party of the United States Department of Agriculture, Ghana Poultry Project; Madam Dorothy Effah of Alliance for a Green Resolution In Africa (AGRA) ; Prof. Julius Kofi Hangan, of the Department of Animal farm, University of Cape-Coast; Dr. Takemore Chagormoka, Seedco Ghana Regional Manager for West and Central Africa; Mr. Nesta Quarshie, Business Development Manager of OCP Africa; Mr. Selorm Amevor, Head of Marketing and Communications at Agricultural Development Bank; some alumina’s of AG-STUD, from All Nations University, KNUST, Legon, Fair River Institute and Kwadaso.
The Agricultural students career guidance and mentorship dialogue bootcamp is an Agri-booster and capacity building initiative, intentionally designed to empower the Ghanaian youth in a futuristic way that also feed into the country’s agricultural objective of achieving food security, while providing sustainable employment.
The bootcamp was initiated four years ago by Agrihouse Foundation, when through an independent observation process, research and survey revealed that; most Agric students, beginner agribusinesses and prospective young Agriprenuers basically had little or no mentoring, training and coaching to encourage/help them develop their business plans; most had no understanding and appreciation for the career paths and job opportunities Agribusiness could offer, even though some had great ideas; a number of students were doing more Theory lessons in school, than practical; some were not aware that input dealers also operated in functional and structured offices as a business, with CSR activities and not merely selling fertilizers through distributors; and most youth people haven’t been able to embrace the full meaning of agriculture and agribusiness.
In light of the above concerns, Agrihouse Foundation resolved to contribute to a national agenda, by creating AG-STUD, to enable and attract young Ghanaians into Agribusiness; reduce graduate unemployment by creating jobs; empower the youth to appreciate the various opportunities within the agricultural value chain; guide them to approach agriculture creativity, to enable them create jobs within the value chain; provide young people with mentors, coaches, and trainers, to help them articulate their Agri-business ideas and develop bankable business plans; support them with seed capitals and starter-up packs, for their businesses; and direct and empower them to be much more self-resilient. And successfully, in the past four years, Agrihouse Foundation has been making such noble impacts in the lives of many young people in the country, through AG-STUD.
Immense successes & counting
In 2018 Obed was selected by his school to participate in the very first AG-STUD bootcamp. An agricultural student of the University of Ghana who was still trying to firmly ground his feet in his chosen area of study. The 5-day bootcamp that sought to empower young people interested in agriculture with knowledge and skills innovative farming and starting an agribusiness seemed like something worth participating in. Intrigued but still unsure what to expect, Obed registered for the bootcamp and participated in the whole event.
Today, he describes his experience at AG-STUD 2018 as life transforming— he left the bootcamp with a fully set-up bank account for his business; seed capital to commence his mushroom growing Agribusiness, a start-up input pack for farming and a business plan to guide his activities. But more importantly, in the company of new found teammates who shared in the vision of starting Mushfarm Industry, and with the support of Agrihouse foundation. Four years down the line, Obed and his colleagues are running a thriving mushroom agribusiness in Accra; Ella from KNUST who has been running a Kumasi branch of the business is scaling-up now and expanding her mushroom business to Accra as well. As part of running his agribusiness, Obed serves as a Trainer during Agrihouse Projects.
Many more students who have participated in AG-STUD have similar inspiring and impactful stories to share. Mustapha from All Nations (and northern hub) has established over 5 acres of cowpea and watermelon farm. Furthermore, Khadija from Fair River is now into Dawada Processing, whiles Alex from Kwadaso is doing an amazing job with his Grasscuttor Farm.
Through AG-STUD, participating students and groups have been made aware of the many opportunities available in the field of agriculture and in agribusiness; the platform continues to impact them with relevant knowledge and skills on how to harness such opportunities in the sector; over 500 students from 30 different schools who have participated in various editions of the event have been have taught to be self-reliant, and have been supported with start-up capital to enable them start their agri-businesses; over 1000 agri-business students and beginner agribusinesses have been groomed by mentors, coaches and trainers from diverse organizations, thus enabling them to develop strong and bankable business plans. Through AG-STUD over 250 agri-students and beginner agribusinesses have been established by some participants, and over 27 successful businesses are run by students who have participated in AG-STUD.
AG-STUD Business clubs established in schools include University for Development Studies AG-STUD Business club, University of Cape Coast AG-STUD business Club, Fair River Farm Institute AG-STUD Business Club Unit, University of Energy and Natural Resources Business Club, University of Ghana AG-STUD Business Club Unit, Asuansi Farm Institute AG-STUD Business Club Unit, Kwadaso Agricultural College AG-STUD Business Club Unit and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology AG-STUD Business Club Unit. These start-up agribusinesses and clubs have been equipped and skilled to engage in crops and livestock production activities such as, Vegetable Production, Maize and rice Production, Poultry and Honey Production, Vegetable Production, Fruit and Coconut Oil Processing, Rearing of Rabbit, Grasscutter and Quails, and Production of Organic Fertilizer.
A Call to Action— ADB, AGRA & OCP Call for Intensified Agri-youth Initiatives
Organizing partners like the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB), Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa and OCP Ghana who were present at the 2021 launch of AG-STUD Bootcamp, all called for intensified efforts as a country towards the mitigation of a possible COVID-19 food drought, as being predicted by some global organizations. They all noted that Ghana has an opportunity, not just to feed itself in these times, but also feed other African countries. But that will only be the case if Ghana scales-up focus on all areas along its agricultural chain.
The Head of Marketing and Communications at ADB, Mr. Selorm Amevor, used the opportunity to call on young Ghanaians especially, to rethink their perceptions about Agriculture.