Ghana lies within three or four climatic belts, all of which are favourable for production of foodstuff, fish and meat.
From our beautiful beaches and lagoons across the various belts, through the mineral rich Eastern and Western regions into the Middle Belt and Savannah, there are conditions and opportunities for producing food – from vegetables and staples like yam and cassava through cereals like rice and maize.
That is why the world gets shocked when Ghana suffers or complains about droughts and famine, as we saw under Kutu Acheampong and Jerry Rawlings’s military governments in 1977 and 1983 respectively.
We almost had a similar situation under former President John Dramani Mahama, when we grew negative in agriculture, with an ambitious agricultural programme called Savannah Accelerated Development Authority (SADA) on the drawing table and in the mill.
Under COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the picture on the ground is still one of capacity to sustain food production and processing in volumes that ensure and sustain food security.
This is in spite of recent breakthroughs that saw the nation exporting to Togo and Burkina Faso, and further onto the international market under the incumbent government’s several agro initiatives like Planting for Food and Jobs and Planting for Export.
The embarrassing scenario to that twist was the recent saga of lack of food to feed students in our secondary schools and lack of cash to pay where the foodstuffs were available.
Opportunities in crisis
Various educational institutions have been taking young graduates through training programmes in agriculture, in an effort at making them future entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, after their training, they still look up to government for employment, instead of beginning in small, humble ways to do something on their own.
Every smart student of agriculture knows that beyond the projects that come occasionally to the faculties, there are always opportunities for innovation in that particular sector, including snail farming, piggery or livestock (rabbits, goat and sheep).
Thankfully, support systems exist for some of these areas, little and insignificant as they may seem.
The report about government having set up a $10 million facility to support export in the yam sector, in further expanding it, offers some hope in typical yam-producing communities within the Oti Region and Savannah Belts.
Beyond maintaining Ghana’s lead spot, it encourages more and more people, particularly youth within such communities, to look for opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods.
Available records show opportunities for government to employ the teeming graduates that pass out of our universities each year hovering poorly at a mere five per cent. The situation should therefore provide opportunities for growth in the private sector, instead of gloom that pushes needless political agenda.
One of the important lessons COVID-19 and the Russia-Ukraine crisis have taught humanity is that agribusiness and food security, for that matter, will continue to be the most critical areas that deserve the attention of any serious government.
And as long as farmers – crop and livestock – are protected and encouraged, life would be better across the global socio-political spectrum, as we are witnessing today in the relevance of food security in critical periods.
It is therefore the opinion of the Daily Statesman that while government breaks its back designing such opportunities and arranging facilities to support implementation, Ghana’s youth will take advantage of the tide and swim into beckoning opportunities.
Young people need not be told that between education and success, the invaluable link is simply tapping timeously into opportunities.