Some stakeholders in the agriculture sector have called for funding opportunities to attract young people into agriculture and agribusiness.
At a meeting to discuss funding opportunities for the youth in the agriculture sector in Accra on Wednesday, they identified lack of funding opportunities, skills development, and access to markets as among the major disincentive to youth participation in agribusiness.
The discussants also advised the youth to regard agriculture as a serious business and forge partnerships with appropriate institutions and identify existing opportunities in the sector.
The meeting was organised by SENSX AFRICA as part of the Opportunities for Youth in Africa (OYA) Programme -a joint initiative by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO).
The OYA seeks to mobilise $50m from 2020 to 2025 to empower about 30,000 youth in agribusiness as well as support the establishment of 600 small and medium enterprises.
Africa currently has the youngest population in the world, with about 200 million people aged between 15 and 24.
According to the World Bank, the youth account for 60 per cent of all Africans unemployed.
Mr Eric Gyenin, the Country Coordinator for UNIDO, said the active participation of the youth in productive agriculture had social and economic benefits for both young people and the economy.
He said the quest to industrialise Africa could not be entirely successful without deliberate efforts to process the continent’s agricultural produce.
“We must empower the youth into agriculture to make agribusiness vibrant to support the processing of our agro produce, Mr Gyenin said.
Dr Kofi Afakye, the National Anti-microbial Resistance Project Coordinator, FAO Ghana, cited inadequate skilled labour as among the major challenges confronting the agriculture sector.
He said Africa must leverage its youthful population to develop the agriculture sector to create sustainable employment opportunities.
“Our farmers are aging and our productivity levels are very low. With the right support, young people can contribute to the development of the agriculture sector.” Dr Afakye said.
Ms Bibusa Wissemann, Chief Executive Officer, SENSX AFRICA, advised young entrepreneurs not to solely focus on access to capital as motivation for establishing their businesses.
“If you want to get a business in a supply store for instance, you must network with the owner, you do not need capital for that, and also try to connect with people who have the knowledge and the skills to help you,” she said.
Mr David Antwi Ofori, the Director of Innovation, National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), urged the youth to learn the principles and structures of the business before they venture into it.
“They have to register the business so that when the Government puts in taxpayers’ money, they will ensure that the money is well spent,” he said.