Youth unemployment has become the focus of most governments and development partners due to its adverse effect on migration, security and development. The agricultural sector with its wide range of activities offers a great opportunity for youth employment when well explored. Gathering information from the critical stakeholders of the framework thus the youth is a crucial element in tapping the opportunity identified by them.
The World Bank and the Government of Ghana organized a youth forum on 31st May, 2017 to gather knowledge from Ghanaian youth across the country and in different areas within the agricultural sector on what works within the sector to promote youth employment, and what challenges they face in both the rural and urban sphere. This is to assist the World Bank and the Ministry of Employment and Labor Relations, Ghana in developing a national youth employment framework that will guide policy making and funding of youth employment projects countrywide. In attendance were youth associations, networks, NGOs, enterprises and entrepreneurs in agriculture including representatives of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development, Ghana (YPARD Ghana).
Discussions at this event focused on what the various youth organizations, associations and enterprises are doing for youth in both urban and rural areas, the constraints being experience and the prospects for youth employment creations. It was identified that there are activities carried out in the area of entrepreneurship skills development and the promotion of agribusiness.
YPARD Ghana presented its work for youth in the area of networking, information sharing, and exposing youth to innovative ways of agriculture and agribusiness. It has also presented its new initiative with discussions with Participatory Development Associate- Agro Enterprise (PDA Agro Enterprise) called the Future Farmers Initiative with the focus on mobilizing youth for agricultural careers and using their potential to find innovative and
future-oriented agricultural approaches. The initiative has three components: young farmer connect (GhFarmerKonet), campus agriculture and skills enhancement programme. The young farmer connect is to enhance off line instruction between youth in various aspect of the agricultural value chain for effective networking and opportunity identification. The campus agriculture aims at exposing agricultural students in the secondary and tertiary institutions to the potentials and opportunities along the agricultural value chain to help them define their career pathways. The skills enhancement programme is to facilitate youth’s access to practical skills in the area of green jobs, organic farming, among others.
The constraints which impede youth employment in agriculture as identified include institutional challenges relating to cost of doing business; marketing; financing and inadequate practical knowledge and skills. These constraints affect all categories of youth in the country. Prospective areas in the agricultural value chain identified for youth employment include; agro processing, cultural practice services (disease, pest, weed control services), linking farmers to market, linking farmers to machinery services, transportation, agricultural waste conversion, and storage (warehousing). There is however the need for education and training for youth to take advantage of the prospects identified.
The youth forum was part of the process for the development of a comprehensive framework for youth employment in Ghana. The next part of the framework development will be the meeting of private sector players in the agricultural industry. It was suggested that all sections of stakeholder interaction on the development of the framework should involve the main stakeholders thus the youth.