The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations estimates we need to increase global food production by 60% by 2050. Under current production patterns, much of the increase would need to come from smallholder family farmers in developing countries, including the poorest, who cultivate about 80% of arable land and produce most of the world’s food.
Small-scale family farmers tend to find it difficult to make meaningful production impact, because of poor infrastructure, low education and lack of financial credit. Many of them live and work in vulnerable ecosystems that may become even more fragile because of climate change, as was highlighted in a recent report from the UN’s international panel on climate change.
Aside from these well-known hurdles, what is less often discussed is the demographic challenge that could limit global food production. Farmer populations are ageing rapidly. Worldwide, the average age of farmers is about 60, including in developing countries.
Several studies seeking to shed illumination on this situation have alluded that older farmers are less likely to introduce new, transformative production techniques.
This is why the prevailing apathy for agric amongst the youth needs a critical effort to stem. Ideally one would expect increased youth participation in agriculture considering that in developing countries, an estimated 60% of the population is less than 25 years of age and most living in rural areas.
Though agriculture remains the undisputed lifeblood of the local economy with numerous job opportunities for young visionary minds, the blue reality is that many young people are not looking in the direction of the industry-while those who dare to do otherwise are left at the mercy of career uncertainties and ridicule from friends and family.
The big question that requires a swift response is, how do we expect to make significant gains in efforts to ensure food security if the youth continue look-on unconcerned while their counterparts elsewhere are transforming their countries through agriculture.
Available Statistics suggest Africa has the largest youth population in the world. While this indication is a positive one in many respects, it has not reflected in the continents hugely important agriculture industry.
The apparent disconnect that exists between the continent’s youth population and the agriculture industry is worrying as experts projections have consistently tipped agriculture as the surest path to socio-economic development for the African continent.
Agrihouse Foundation, Ghana’s leading pro-agric NGO is set to rollout the 20202 edition of its agric student’s capacity building boot camp event dubbed AGSTUD Africa 2020.
The event which is in its third year has already made significant impact on agric students around the country. AGSTUD Africa 2018 is a student capacity building boot-camp which was calculated to specifically attract students of agricultural science.
Structured as a three (3) day event, AGSTUD Africa 2019 aims to develop the expertise of agric students and beginner agribusinesses by appraising them with the constant changes identified in the sector including marketing, processing, branding, input, finance, equipment, technology, land tenure among others through education and leadership programmes.
Last year the program had about 350 selected participants from some 25 institutions including KNUST, UDS, University of Ghana, University of Cape-coast, Kwadaso Agric College, Damongo Agric College, Fair River Institute, Animal Health, AsuanzI Farm Institute, Ejura Agric College, Adidome Agric College, KITA, selected Senior High School students, beginner agribusinesses and small agribusiness start-ups across the country.
The program was divided into three (3) thematic areas with each day focusing on precise activities that had been predesigned to improve the capacity of participants.
The opening day of the event saw participants enjoy an exciting field trip to selected agric-industry firms. The fun-filled yet educative trip afforded participating students the rare opportunity to enjoy a first-hand experience of what the world of work portends. There was also practical training session where students were taught the fundamentals for writing investor friendly business plans.
This year, Agrihouse is set to consolidate the gains made through AGSTUD Africa by rolling out the best edition of the event yet. Already, this year’s edition has been earmarked for February 25-28 2020, with plans already in place to make this year’s edition a practical avenue for training the next generation of agric- industry professionals adept with the dynamics of modern agriculture and the colossal benefits it holds for Ghana.
This year, under the theme: Growing Futures: Establishing the Agric Youth, Agrihouse Foundation is further emphasizing the continued growth and development of the agric student by setting up Business Club Units in the institutions as another important part of the programme. The Business Club Units comprise a team of 15 students and representatives of corporate organizations who adopt and mentor the students to throughout their journey. The Club Units function as agri businesses, led by a Managing Director with floor members. The units implement various models to access funds for their businesses. The agri-businesses are the initiatives of students who are empowered to manage the growth and development of the businesses.
AG-STUD 2020 promises more value and excitement. Nine (9) schools are participating and would have the opportunity to present pitches in a business plan competition for a prize at the end of the Boot-camp. The participating schools already have the business club units up and running at their various institutions with active social media handles where updates on their businesses and challenges are posted regularly. These institutions include University of Ghana (Legon), University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kwadaso Agricultural College, University of Developmental Studies (UDS), University of Cape Coast (UCC), Fair River Farm Institute, Damango Agricultural College, Asuansi Farm Institute and Northern Agri-Youth Hub.
The 4-day program would have in attendance over 600 participants with activities like field visits, mentorship, seminar, training, capacity building and pitching competition. Topics for pitching would be selected based on students’ agribusiness area of interest. Winners of the competition would be provided with agri-materials and funding to start up their own businesses.
This development based initiative of Agrihouse Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), also serves as a reliable source of employment and income generator for students even after graduation, thereby reducing the unemployment rate and increasing the economic growth of the country.
Previous sponsors of AG-STUD Boot-camp included Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Dizengoff Ghana, RMG, John Deere, Indomie, Far East Mercantile Limited, Blue Skies, A1 Bread, Agro Volta, Agricinghana, Business and Financial Times.
Agrihouse Foundation is a non-governmental agricultural capacity building organization, with a special focus on the promotion of, and changing perception of agriculture through tactical programs and initiatives for students, women, farmers, farming associations, agribusinesses and the entire actors within the value chain.
The foundation’s initiatives focuses on empowerment, grooming, leadership, best practices, management training programs, etc. that leads to effecting positive change in the mind, field, economy and translate to the community.
In her inaugural address, Team Lead for Agrihouse Foundation, Alberta Nana Akyaa Akosa, stressed the need to fully equip the youth to take the reins of the agriculture industry. According to her, simply involving the youth in agriculture wasn’t good enough. She proffered a fully equipped agric student population as the definite solution to youth agric apathy.
“We believe the future of agriculture belongs to the youth. That is why we have designed this event to ensure that we provide an avenue for training the next generation of agric industry professional’s. This event is the first of many initiatives that we have outlined to aid renewed efforts aimed at repositioning the agric industry for optimum impact. ” she affirmed.
Other initiatives of Agrihouse Foundation focuses on mentorship, empowerment, grooming, leadership, best practices, management, training programs, etc, that leads to effecting positive change in the mind, field, and economy and translate to the community. Agrihouse Foundation is also versed in Agric Exhibitions, Trade Promotions, and Research, communications, concept creation and investor relations.
With a central goal that is hinged on a seething desire to be an unassailable industry trailblazer, Agrihouse Foundation and its sister company (Agrihouse Communications) seeks to create a focused platform, dedicated to increase innovation, communication, advocacy and initiate high impactful agric projects.