The potential of the northern Ghana as the future of our country became evident during the days of Dr Kwame Nkrumah.
That the area benefited in those days from a standard irrigation facility at Vea, in Bolgatanga, with other such facilities being put in place later at Tono and Pwalugu, under subsequent administrations, is a pointer to the fact about its fortunes in generating employment for the mutual benefit of families, communities and the country at large.
Unfortunately, the potential of northern Ghana in effectively impacting agriculture is waning, as we experience a decline in agriculture in those parts of the country, arising out of the decision by the youth to shun the age-long vocation.
We would recall that about three decades ago nearly every civil or public servant, including security personnel, politicians and businessmen from the north, had interest in agriculture, whether livestock or crop.
The area was rich in vegetables and staples, including tomato, onions as well as rice, yams and cattle, goats and sheep.
Aboabo in Tamale and Techiman down south in the Middle Belt used to be vibrant international trade routes until Nigeria and Burkina Faso rose to become leaders at some point.
Unfortunately, what we see today at a time government is promoting agricultural initiatives to recover lost ground is a surge in youth chasing public sector jobs, while their parents’ vocations are abandoned.
It is interesting that those who fail to grab white collar jobs – and the figures are huge – get into Okada and such businesses because of the quick financial returns.
Inability on the part of the youth to access such jobs in some cases results in armed robbery in a region known since the last several decades for civility.
That is why news report on recurring acts of banditry makes interesting reading.
According to the report, tricycle drivers, who are predominantly youth, have lodged complaints with the police about the operations of bandits in communities in Builsa South.
That part of the country, like most communities in the Upper East region, had over the years been peaceful as an agricultural hub in the sub-region.
Considered against the background of bandits attacking cargo trucks and shooting and robbing passengers, our dream of turning the entire northern regions into an agribusiness hub in West Africa may fade, unless the youth change their attitudes and dream big.
Our gripe is that while the political authorities accept the fact that the population in agriculture is aging, with the youth abandoning agriculture, particularly in the Upper East, not much is being done about it in terms of awareness generation.
Additionally, blaming others for poor yield or lack of markets is not the enduring path to improving one’s livelihoods.
Worse still is the fact that basic patriotic duties like community policing is becoming a burden left on the shoulders of the police alone.
In communities where every individual has a name and face, unlike Accra and Kumasi, or Koforidua and Tema, youth making such complaints to police come up, in our opinion, only as playing the coward.
That is why we insist that the acts of banditry along the northern and Upper regions’ stretch into Burkina Faso should be investigated with the delinquent youth themselves as primary suspects.
We insist on that because the criminal activities cannot be coming from the aged population.
That rampant claims on the part of the youth that the Fulani herdsman is the only person capable of raping women and robbing people of their crops and livestock or even cross border cement traders and distributors must give way to another theory to widen our investigative processes and strategies.
Government and the public should wake up to the fact that communal security as an ingredient to productivity and progress is imperative in rolling out the several initiatives under the Northern Regional Development Authority, particularly the agricultural zones that government would be putting in place.
While we commend the police and military chiefs for their pledge to increase patrols along the stretch and provide escorts for cross border cargo trucks, we urge the assemblies to be part of the processes of using their research departments to probe who are pig-headed enough to rob others in broad daylight and at points close to town.
Without securing the regions and reorienting the youth, any attempt to industrialise the zones would be like putting water into a palm frond basket.