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Opinions Tue, 9 Oct 2018

Limitations to modernising agricultural growth in Ghana

In Ghana, the agricultural sector continue to receive attention for improvement to ensure food security, job creation for the teeming youth and other populace who are interested in the agricultural value chain by current and past governments in Ghana. But are the policies achieving the goals it seeks.

These programmes are rolled out targeting mostly the youth and women to catch their attention, creating employment and ensuring their effective contribution to the Ghanaian economy but in recent times there arise limiting factors to the realisation of the objectives of these programmes and are barriers for the targets to get involvement in the agricultural advancement agenda of the country.

Many young people in Ghana are interested in venturing into the business of agriculture and its related ventures but few are able to materialize their plans from the head to paper and into reality and development.

This is as a result of certain limitations in the development and growth of agriculture and its businesses in Ghana. Some limitations to the realization of our business ideas too may come from the family, our immediate environment, government policies and how poor the agricultural sector is managed in the country.

There is the need to empower the youth and women in the country to take up the soil business and other products and services in the agricultural sector to ensure job creation for the teeming unemployed.

The following highlights the limitation to the seeing of the agricultural sector as a business and career to be taken by young people in Ghana and possible solutions to the limiting factors.

Mentality about agriculture

When one hears or talk about agriculture the only thing that comes in mind is the job for the poor and the illiterates. From childhood the Ghanaian youth is taught to perceive farming as a dirty work and has no future.

Students in schools are threating punishment by weeding and so these young ones see agriculture as senior punishment and refuse to engage themselves in when searching for jobs after school or lifetime job searching or even studying agriculture at any level of education. Some parents used this mentality to scare their kids when they do not want to go school.

They will end up like you will become a “farmer” and live a poor life when you don’t go to school so that kid sees farming as a bad career to engage in.

Young people think agriculture and it related work will take them from civilization and make them hustle than enjoying life of their choice but this is not. Agriculture is the most lucrative business for the teeming unemployed youth when this mentality is wash out of their brains. There is the need for mass education to change the mindset of the youth and the general public about agriculture in Ghana by referencing success of agriculture in other continents or countries.

Lack of funding

Funding or capital is an essential factor in ensuring the successes of every business including farming and it derivatives in Ghana but sourcing of funds to establish agriculture venture is problematic. Financial institutions hardly provide financial assistance to young people who want to start farming business because these institutions want quick returns on their loans and hence give these funds to non-agricultural venture. Many financial institutions rejects agripreneurs request for loans. There is the need for the government to structure means to provide financial assistance to young people to engage in agriculture in the country.

Impatience

Most farming system takes a much longer time to achieve success and this discourage young people as it is not a quick means of making money as that is the syndrome of the youth of today. Young people engage themselves in politics, banking, law, police, military, teaching, health and other professional service they see as a quick way of making money than farming. This behaviour has killed many profitable ideas of the youth in the farm business in Ghana. Strong education and campaign can help to change the mindset.

Priorities

Any parents discourage their kids from taking up the business of farming because they see it as the poor venture. They encourage their kids to go to school and learn hard to become doctors, accountants, engineers, teachers, nurses, managers of reputable companies, politicians, bankers, journalist and other well paid and professional services.

No parent encourage their kids to become farmers or an agriculturalist and hence the poor status of agriculture in Ghana and Africa in general. Change of mindset needed.

Conditions of engagement in agriculture

There are bad conditions of service in the agricultural sector and this discourage many young people in venturing in farming and its related business.

Unlike other professions there are incentive packages, pension schemes and compensations for certain disasters. Professions like doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, nurses, accountants and others are well serviced more than farming. All young people turn to be engaging in such professions than farming. There is the need for government and other corporate societies to provide support in these conditions for our gallant agricultural workers to inspire more people.

Bribery and Corruption

There are always the talk of many past and present governments with promises in revamping the agricultural sector by providing soft loans to the youth to venture in farming to sustain the agricultural sector to contribute significantly to the national economy but is that the case in the country.

For a young person interested in the farming venture to secure a loan to start-up the procedures are cumbersome and these discourage many young people. To secure this government loans from the designated institutions with a well vetted business plan one has to pay, gift or offer a stipulated service to gain access, be an affiliate of the government in power, have a link before accessing this facilities.

Some corrupt persons too divert this funding by government for their personal political, economic and social gains. This makes loans sourcing to venture in farming and related business cumbersome for the youth of Ghana. Stringent measures are needed to remove all this obstacles to pave way for this lucrative business in agriculture to prosper.

Lack of inspiration and mentors

There are lack or shortage of successful individuals in the field of agriculture to serve as mentors to the teeming youth in Ghana. There are no or few well established agriculture firms in Ghana that the youth may learn from to rekindle their spirit for business in the agriculture sector. There is the need for people to act as agriculture mentors and counselors to provide career guidance and advice to the youth in Ghana to venture in agriculture to contribute significantly to the nation building.

Lack of institutional backing

There are no research and financial backing to the development and growth of the agricultural sector in Ghana. The few existing institutions like the research stations lack funds to research and disseminate their improve findings to the development of agriculture in Ghana. Strong backing from this institution would help in the development and growth of the agricultural sector in Ghana.

Low government involvement in agriculture

“My priority is to revamp the agriculture sector” that has been neglected by the current or previous government has always been the talk of the political parties when they are on campaign platforms but they do not walk the talk when in power. It is a high time this talk must be walked to make agriculture attractive to the youth in Ghana. Too much of the “we shall”, “we will” should be stop and make things move.

Changes in the climatic conditions

There is a drastic change in the climate of the country and its suitability for agriculture (farming) has changed also and there is the need to use modern technology form of farming like set-up of irrigation systems and provisions of farm machinery services to make it lucrative to the youth. Support in these terms will ginger the youth to reduce unemployment in the country.

In recent times, agriculture and its related businesses has been considered as a giant solution to the crashing economy of Africa and Ghana as a continent and a country respectively. It is essentially declared as a panacea to the economic improvement of the individuals, families and the country. We must arise and defend the dignity of agriculture for our national growth and development.

I pledge myself to the dignity of agriculture in Ghana, so help me God.

Columnist: Abass Iddrisu