The Regional Director, Solidaridad West Africa, Mr Isaac Gyamfi, has urged the government to transform and redefine agriculture to attract more youth into the sector.
He said the ‘hoe and cutlass’ type of agriculture that has been practiced over the years does not appeal to the youth, hence the need to leverage on technology and investments to build a strong service system along the value chain for them to partake in.
In an interview after the launch of the Sustainable West Africa Palm oil Programme (SWAPP) II and the Cocoa Rehabilitation and Intensification Programme (CORIP) II, he said the continued calls for youth to go into agriculture would not yield any results should the status quo .
“When I hear that we should encourage the youth to get into agriculture, I say we need to define what type of agriculture we want them to get into. If the youth are to be attracted into agriculture and do the mediocre agriculture their parents did, then forget it. The youth will not go,” he said.
“If we want our children to get into agriculture then we should be envisioning a new type of agriculture driven by strong service sectors so that the service providers can easily reach them,” he said.
While admitting that having the right policy and the enabling environment for the sector to thrive was important, he said, it was also important to transform the sector using technology.
“Africa must be at the forefront of technology to transform its agriculture sector. Policy is critical and the enabling environment is key but the sector needs serious transformation to help Africa feed its growing population,” he said.
He also debunked the perception that there was the need for more extension officers as the national farmer extension ratio was low.
“We do not need more extension officers to change the ratio. What we need is few extension officers who are working with service providers who are servicing 1000 of farmers who are working profitable market driven way.
The new initiatives
The SWAPP II programme will focus on ways to de-risk financing in the SME oil palm sector, so that public money will be leveraged with commercial funding for scaling up.
By working closely with the financial sector and supply chain partners, the inherent risks of lending to the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector will be reduced. Women and rural youth will be targeted specifically to ensure that their inclusion in the sector is deepened.
The CORIP II focuses on large-scale adoption of sustainable intensification of coca production by improving farmers’ access to recommended inputs such as planting material, fertiliser, crop protection, extension advice and other services through SMEs.