Africa Lead Training at Ashesi
Africa Lead Training at Ashesi

The session sought to inspire, energise and mobilise innovative leaders, champions and thinkers in Ghana and Africa who are committed to create new approaches to attaining food security with the youth at the forefront of the change process.

Africa Lead Training at Ashesi
Africa Lead Training at Ashesi

Around 40 students received the week-long training done within the new economic partnership for African development framework – Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme.

The partnership, requires African countries [leaders] to allocate 10 per cent of their annual budgets to support agriculture and raise food production.

Ms Carla Denizard, Regional Director of West and Central Africa Lead, said champions for change is one of the nine different networks created, including women groups to lead vigorous campaign for application of innovative methods to transform the agricultural sector for better productivity and increased job opportunities.

She said Africa Lead aimed at raising more awareness within the student population about plentiful careers awaiting in the agricultural value chain and agribusinesses, which could be tapped by the youth to raise incomes, reduce poverty and speed up economic growth.

“We are here to raise awareness within the student population that there are careers in agriculture and agribusiness, they’re plentiful and are necessary, we need to pay attention to that,” she said.
“The rational [for the training] is to sensitise them about the important issues of food security and how we need to focus on improving agricultural productivity on the continent, the youth nowadays get computer jobs sitting in the offices.

“But we still need people because we eat every day, we still have to have that knowledge and awareness that we have to sustain our population and we have to grow food and try to promote food security, promote agribusiness,” she added.

Ms Denizard said Africa has greater leaders who have contributed significantly to economic transformation and growth in the continent over the past 25 years, “but we need to support more of the groups that support those leaders so they can hold them accountable”.

“We have excellent leadership from traditional leadership to political leadership and I think that is why there is a lot of transformation and growth in the continent over the past 25 years.”
She said the youth of today ought to be given the necessary technical support and capacity building to continue Africa’s transformation agenda and emulate paths of past leaders with significant record on food security.

“We are looking for leaders like John Agyekum Kufuor who started the African food price; we are looking for leaders like Kofi Anan who started the alliance for green revolution, we’re looking for leaders who realise that development means food security for the nation,” she said.

Dr Stephen Armah, Agricultural Economist at Ashesi University told the Ghana News Agency that the biggest problems challenging the country’s agricultural sector borders largely on negative attitude towards the sector, absence of coordination, lack of clear action and policy to approach the sector from the foundational level.

“The big problem is coordination, we’ve people who have good intentions to help but the effort has not been coordinated, it seems as if agriculture has sort of negative attitude, even the people that you call doctors in agriculture sometimes sit in offices and they don’t really get onto the ground.
“One of the big problems we are having now in agriculture to me is the attitude of the youth, they don’t like it, a lot of the youth leave the hinterlands to come to Accra, because they know that when they stay where they are they’ll only do agriculture or they’ll do farming and they don’t like that because they have negative attitude towards it.”

Dr Armah noted the negative attitude is largely driven by failure to promote Ghana’s agriculture as a business leading to many youth drifting from the rural areas where there are abundant land to cities where pressure on limited social amenities continue to mount.

“When they [youth] come to Accra they think they’re coming to do business, whether it’s selling ice water or whatever, they think that is business and that the farming in not a business, but that is wrong.”
Dr Armah suggested that for the country to make strides in the agricultural sector, “what we need is bottom up education to teach our children that farming is not to be looked down upon and that it is a business. It should enter our children minds like it is in the US, like it is in China that the farming is a business”.

He also said “may be a policy is needed, in designing our curricular for teaching our children, we should ensure we emphasise that agricultural is an important thing. It is not just about farming, we should do what we can to make them think that it’s a business”.

The champions for change leadership training covered several topics relating to agriculture including overlooked issues in addressing food security, creating compelling vision, managing change, monitoring and evaluation of agricultural or development initiatives.

The seminar highlighted agribusiness opportunities and encouraged the youth to embark on farming projects in rural communities using modern technologies and local initiatives.

By D.I. Laary, GNA

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