An economic expert, Yaw Ansu, underscored the need here on Monday to make agriculture sector attractive to the youth, which will drive the economic transformation of Ghana, and the African continent as a whole.
He said there was the need for a new corps of youth to take up agriculture as a profession since the existing core group of farmers were getting old and could not continue in the trade in the near future.
“Africa’s industrialization story has to start with agriculture,” Ansu, who is the Chief Economist at the Africa Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), told journalists during a day’s media discussion on “Building Media Partnerships for Africa’s Transformation.”
The economist said Africa, as well as Ghana’s agriculture sector, needed modernization by dealing first with the cumbersome land tenure system, urging government to introduce policies that would make land readily available for those who sought to practice agriculture.
The economist added that mechanization, irrigation, fertilizer application, credit for farmers, storage and marketing were all issues bedeviling the sector that needed to be streamlined to make the sector profitable and attractive.
“To do all these requires political leadership and direction in this area to make the agenda happen. If we can do this, we think agriculture would be a very critical element in helping drive Africa’s economic transformation,” Ansu said.
The average age of Ghana’s existing crop of farmers is 60 years with very negligible interface with modern agriculture practice.
These, the economist believes, should be supported with adequate extension services and training in best farm practices to maximize yield for them.
He said Africa stood the chance to use agriculture as a foundation for industrialization as many countries throughout history had used agriculture as a basis for processing to begin the transformation journey.
“The opportunities are there. I know young people do not want to go into agriculture but if we can modernize agriculture, not only the farm but the whole value chain, then a lot of different types of employment would emerge that young people, graduates from the universities and high schools would be happy working in productively,” he said.
Joe Amoako, Director of Research at ACET, listed four pathways to economic transformation which are labor intensive, namely manufacturing, agro-processing, oil, gas and mineral resources, and tourism.
He said the state and private sector, playing their respective roles well and collaboratively, could drive this transformation agenda. Enditem