By Vanessa Adjei
The National Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme, NEIP, through the Ministry of Finance has launched the Youth in Innovative Agriculture Support in Accra.
The Initiative which is under the Ghana Obantanpa programme seeks to help the youth to venture into farming using modern technology.
₵ 20 to ₵ 200,000 worth of funding will be made available for qualified individuals to boost the business and the economic growth of the country.
“The program seeks to enlist young people between the ages of 18 to 40 who are in agriculture to be trained and funded. Those who go through the programme successfully will receive an amount ranging from ₵ 20 to ₵ 200,000.
Speaking at the launch, the Director of Business Development and policy at NEIP, Franklin Owusu Karikari said the majority of the country’s farming population is ageing and that is worrying.
There is therefore the need to train young ones to take over the sector to sustain agriculture production in Ghana.
He added that the perception that persons involved in agriculture are poor, especially those in rural communities, must change, hence the youth are the best individuals to lead such change.
“The Youth is strategic to the success of any effort to boost Ghana’s food production” The poor image of persons in agriculture especially in the rural areas needs to be changed, which is why NEIP will provide financial and technical support to motivate the youth to accept and appreciate farming thereby taking up innovative farming as a lifetime vocation”
The Youth In Innovative Agriculture is set out to mobilise the youth to take up Innovative farming through technology as a vocation.
The initiative will empower the youth to accept Innovative farming as a commercial business venture. It will also help them to better their standard of living through improved income.
They are expected to produce food crops, meat and eggs using modern methods to sustain food security in the country as a complement to the planting for food and jobs.
The rise in importation of foods such as maize, rice, frozen chicken and meat will only make the country vulnerable to import disruptions in future.
Director of Business Development and Policy at the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation programme, NEIP Franklin Owusu Karikari said the narrative about youth venturing into agriculture must change.
“The Importation of staple foods into the country continues to rise. If the trend continues the availability of food in Ghana will depend on imports, making the country vulnerable to catastrophic events and other exogenous shocks that have negative impact on food production from external sources.”
He said the first phase of the programme will look at funding Agri business such as vegetable farming, maize farming, poultry/livestock among others.
“In this first phase, the initiative won’t cover every aspect of agriculture. It will look at Maize farming, Poultry, Livestock, specifically Piggery, AgriTech, Agro Processing and vegetable farming. These have been carefully selected because of its economic value for a program we are running this year and we want the young ones to ensure they are in these sectors we are mentioning” he said.
In a series of questions asked by the media, one key question was about the fear of NEIP picking party faithful over qualified individuals. In response to that, Director of Finance at NEIP, Dei Dasebere said there won’t be anything of the sort.
“The application will be done online except for individuals in the rural areas, and so there will be no such thing as favouring party faithful or foot soldiers. There will be a thorough inspection of the farm after selecting qualified individuals before the money is handed over to them”
An application portal has been launched on their website at www.neip.gov.gh and on all social media platforms@NEIP Ghana for interested youth to apply for the grant.
The application is open from January 11 to February 5 for prospective applicants. The applicants will be trained for one month after which shortlisted applicants will be funded.