A flagbearer hopeful of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto has said that the agriculture sector holds the key to unlocking the massive unemployment among the youth today.
He noted that Ghana only needs to make the right investment to make that dream a reality.
The job opportunities in the agriculture sector, according to Dr Afriyie Akoto, are enormous. They include industrialisation, agro-processing, and advertising among others, insisting that when proper investment is made, it will change the fortunes of Ghana.
“My vision is really targeted at the youth. To have an impact on the youth is to create job opportunities for them. The youth really need jobs and the agriculture sector holds the key,” he said.
Dr Afriyie Akoto made this observation on Monday, May 7, 2023, at a town hall meeting organised by NPP, Canada branch, via Zoom, where he interacted with party faithful on his vision when given the nod to lead the party.
He was responding to a question posed by one Felix Brown on what could be the fate of the NPP youth under his leadership.
Commenting further on the issue, the former Minister of Food and Agriculture said the approach to addressing the myriads of unemployment issues confronting the youth has to do with pragmatic policies.
Dr Afriyie Akoto assured that under his leadership, he will put in place policies that are geared towards prioritising investment into the agriculture sector.
For instance, he said the introduction and execution of the government’s flagship programme, Planting for Food and Jobs, created more job opportunities for the teaming unemployed youth and the process, changed their lives.
“Everywhere I go, you see these young people thanking me for giving them opportunities to venture into agriculture. It is very gratifying to note that the opportunities are changing lives, especially, when you go to the northern parts of the country,” he noted.
Agriculture Management Team
Motivated by the results he got from the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, Dr Afriyie Akoto strongly proposed that under his leadership as President of Ghana, he will set up an Agriculture Management Team.
This team, he added, will consist of seven notable ministries that are all related to agriculture, including the Ministry of Local Government, Decentralisation and Rural Development, Ministry of Roads and Highways, and Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation.
“They will form a standby committee to ensure that enough public resources are located to ensure the transformation of agriculture which holds the key to creating more job opportunities to turn around our economic fortunes,” he said.
Despite achieving success in the portfolio he handled, Dr Afriyie Akoto revealed that one of his biggest disappointments was seeing the declining fortunes of the poultry industry.
He noted that the biggest challenge confronting the poultry industry had to do with international trade, which he has little control over.
“I know the challenge the poultry farmers have gone through over the years to the extent that poultry feed prices have more than doubled in some cases. Some have attributed the challenge to a lack of enough maize while others say it has to do with the unavailability of soya beans.”
“Well, our production of soy has gone up from 150,000 metric tons to 230,000 metric tons and that is no mean achievement. The thing is that a lot of these things have to do with international trade. We are bringing chicken into this country at something like GH₵14.00 per kilo when the total cost of production as we are speaking is more than GH₵35.00 per kilo.”
“With that, I cannot see how anybody can produce chicken in the European Union or America. You put it in a ship, bring it all the way to Tema and charge GH₵14.00. Obviously, there is some distortionary burden somewhere,” Dr Afriyie Akoto said.