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THE bane of agriculture in Africa is the disinterest of educated young people in the sector, Ghana’s former President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has said.
According to him, the perception that agriculture is not financially rewarding and not “cool” has made African youth turn their back to the sector.
Delivering a speech on the topic: “Agriculture is Cool: Engaging Africa’s Youth” at the 52nd Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group in India yesterday, Mr Mahama said there was the need to make agriculture attractive for the African youth to increase their involvement in the sector.
Ex-President Mahama told the gathering: “The bane of agriculture is the disinterest of our educated young people in the sector. The perception of most is that agriculture is backbreaking, dirty work and is meant for the aged and illiterate rural populations.
“This is a great pity because agriculture is a science, it is no longer a way of life, it’s a business and Africa needs its educated youth who can understand the principles of increased agricultural productivity to participate in the sector” he added.
He said there is more to earn in the farming sector, especially for the African youth.
Describing farming as a “cool” livelihood, Mahama bemoaned the litany of land disputes scattered around Africa, in particular, which inhibit farming.
According to him, investors will only pump money into the agric sector once governments provide the conducive environment.
“I do think that investments are going into the agric sector but they must have a multiplier effect on the economy, and what we need to do is to continue creating an enabling environment for investments to come into the sector,” Mahama declared.
He added: “Most people who bring foreign investors are looking at the oil and gas sector, they are looking into gold mining because those are areas where the profits are almost immediate once you put in the investment. But agriculture has several challenges that must take governments and the investors to be able to resolve.
“For instance, land tenure. Just 3,000 hectares of land for Ghana’s Aveyime Rice Project we dealt with 1,700 families. I mean no foreign investor is going to come and go talking to 1,700 families to get 3000 hectares of land and that is why there must be a commitment by government to ensure that we create the environment for them to be willing to put their money into agriculture.
“There is an increasing commitment by African leaders towards expanding agricultural production and a lot of discussions have taken place in the African Union for a common agricultural development policy. But I believe that from country to country, it depends on the passion of a particular leader for agriculture,” Mahama added.
He will also participate in a number of other sessions on Financing Infrastructure, Addressing Africa’s nutrition challenges, and Africa-Asia Partnership.
This comes months after Mr. Mahama addressed the African Leadership Magazine (ALM) Person of the Year 2016 Awards programme in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Source: The Finder