The 2010 Population and Housing Census of Ghana revealed that the youth constituted over 35 percent of the entire population of 24million. This notwithstanding, only about 5 percent of the country’s youth were currently engaged in the agricultural sector and this for many stakeholders, was a cause for concern.
For instance, considering the fact that the 2012 National Youth Policy Document of Ghana puts the youth within the age brackets of 15 to 35 years in line with a United Nations definition, the situation in the country’s agricultural sector more or less, could create fear and panic amongst some people when thinking about the food security situation of the nation.
This is because, this group of people represents the most active and critical resource of Ghana, and to have less than 10 percent of the youth engaging in agriculture or farming means, the future looks much bleaker than one would ever think.
Accordingly, Ghanaian youth have been urged to see agriculture as a way of life and should fully embrace it in order to make economic gains from it since the sector was very much profitable than previously thought of or perceived to be.
Without the youth involvement in agriculture, the sector could not see the advancement required for it to be viable and sustainable; Project Manager of World Vision Ghana for West Gonja District in the Northern Region, Paul Dzika made this observation during the presentation of five pumping machines [irrigation equipment] to 10 dry season vegetable farmers in Damongo.
Mr. Dzika observed that, majority of Ghanaians saw agriculture as a way of life for only the aged and this perception made the youth to shy away from farming thereby leaving only older people in the sector, who hardly rose above subsistence farming.
He stated that, statistics showed a fairly high proportion of 26% of the population of the youth falling within the age brackets of 15 to 35 years who were largely made up of both unemployed and under-employed young men and women.
He disclosed that, World Vision was currently running a livelihood and empowerment project with the objective of increasing economic opportunities for households and individuals, citing a collaboration between the organization and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the West Gonja District, where a select number of 10 dry season vegetable producers had been given adequate training and also resourced with irrigation equipment to enable them increase their production level in order to improve their income levels.
Mr. Dzika noted that, to ensure that the objective of the project workout successfully, World Vision liaised with MOFA in the district to identify farmers who had interest in dry season vegetable production and had in their own way started the cultivation of vegetables in Damongo and through this, they were able to get committed dry season vegetable farmers in Damongo for the project.
The equipment, Mr. Dzika noted, would help the farmers draw a lot more water, enough to irrigate their vegetable farms in order to increase production for the high market demand.
Until this support came, World Vision had also supported about 350 households with a total of 700 female goats in an attempt to help improve their livelihoods; trained 10 mushroom producers; trained 40 beekeepers and equipped them with beehives and other necessary equipment to increase honey production in the district.
Acting Coordinating Director for the West Gonja District Assembly Mr. Mikdad Ibrahim commended World Vision for their support towards poverty alleviation in the area, and urged the beneficiaries to make good use of the machines so that the donors (World Vision) would offer them more assistance.
Meanwhile, until this donation by World Vision dry season vegetable farmers in the West Gonja District were using outmoded equipment such as water cans to water their farms, a practice according to one of the farmers Abubakari Joe Zakaria, was time consuming and tiresome and also limited farmers to only a small piece of vegetable farm.
However, migrating from the use of water cans to pumping machines Mr. Zakaria noted, that was a significant upgrade and would go a long way to enhance their production capacity and increase income levels among farmers.
He commended World Vision and assured them that the pumping machines would be put to good use and their maintenance would be of top most priority, so that it would open up more opportunities for them from the organization and other organizations operating in the district.