The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Kennedy Osei Nyarko has emphasised the need for Ghanaians to set their sights on agriculture as a very viable venture of economic development rather than its stigmatization of the aged and less privileged involved in agriculture.
The Minister in an interview with Goldstreet Business noted that several images and perceptions over the years have fed into the stigmatization of agriculture, including the rural peripheries that are associated with poverty, the feeling of failure and being marginalised.
He said the penchant for corporate jobs after leaving school needs a second look, thus agriculture needs all manner of professionals.
‘’There has been a sharp dwindle in the number of student applicants to study agriculture in the universities and other tertiary institutions.’’
He said in developed countries, highly educated persons control the value chain of the agriculture sector.
In order to address the challenge, Nyarko said specific programmes and initiatives that are aimed towards educating and changing attitudes and perceptions of agriculture, could make a difference.
He said government, through these agricultural awareness initiatives and programmes will ensure that the sector is opened up and made attractive for the youth.
‘’This approach will increase the assets that the youth possess which in the end helps them improve their psychological and cognitive status. It is also sustainable as it seeks to reconnect different generations and transfer knowledge between them.’’
Nyarko said as part of government’s flagship initiative of ‘’Planting for Food and Jobs’’, the agricultural sector will see huge investments this year, as well as strengthening of systems in the value chain.
‘’The President, Nana Akufo-Addo has clearly made his intention of seeing a Ghana Beyond Aid that can boast of home grown solutions that can compete locally and globally,’’ he noted.
In that regard, the Minister said, should Ghana move beyond aid, agriculture must take its rightful place of leading the growth and structural transformation of the economy that maximizes the benefits of accelerated growth.
Nyarko said the agricultural sector needs to be thoroughly prioritized to culminate into a vibrant and resilient agro economy which provides food and jobs for all.
By Mawuli Y. Ahorlumegah