The government, through the National Employment and Innovation Programme (NEIP), has disbursed funds totaling about GH₵10 million to roll out the ambitious and job creating youth agricultural programme, under the Ghana Cares ‘Obaatanpa’ initiative.
Between GH₵10,000 to GH₵20,000 have been released to beneficiaries in various modules covering Vegetable Farming, Maize Farming, Poultry/Livestock, Yam/cassava and Agro-Processing sectors.
Addressing beneficiaries of the fund, the Chief Executive Officer of NEIP, Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, explained that the programme has the objective of supporting young people who undertake farming as commercial venture to make Ghana self-sufficient.
Mr Ofosu Nkansah explained that crops cultivated under ‘Youth in Innovative Aric Programme’ includes tubers, staples like yam and cassava. Others include maize, soya beans, tomatoes and onions.
Mr Nkansah disclosed that out of the 40, 000 applications his outfit received, 24, 000 were selected and trained in 40 training centres across the 16 regions of the country. He said the project is going to support the beneficiaries with training, funding and continuous coaching and mentoring services.
He stated that needs of the beneficiaries to be provided include, but not limited to, farm inputs like fertilisers, agro-chemicals, poultry feed, livestock feed, day old chicks and working capital for other operational expenditure on their farms. In addition, he said provision will be made to support those in agro processing and technology.
The percentage breakdown and distribution of beneficiaries are maize farmers, 30%; Tubers (Yams and Cassavas), 20%; Poultry and livestock, 35%; Agro processing (Tom Brown and Fruit juices),10% and Agric technology, 3%
He said these crops were carefully selected, according to the country’s socio-economic needs. He added that the importation of certain crops necessitated the focus on these crops.
“As part of our import substitution programme, we are investing in these areas so that we would be self-sufficient and rather export some of these agric produce instead of importing.”
He said Ghana shouldn’t be importing onions from countries like Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, in the same manner it shouldn’t be importing rice and other cereals from other West African countries.
“So this programme will enable us to produce substantial quantities, process them, add value to them and take advantage of the AfCFTA and export it to the sub-region and the entire African continent. That’s the whole idea of the agric component of the ‘CARES’ programme,” he added.
He said NEIP was happy that when President Akufo-Addo brought this revitalisation programme to support the economy, stressing “it wasn’t just lip service but that various programmes were being designed to ensure the realisation of the vision”.
“We supported some of you, and we will continue to do so. And none of you here got selected because you know anybody. You were called at random, based on your performance at the training programme and the business presentation that you did. And it is a similar method we are going to use to select other beneficiaries for subsequent phases,” he stated
The NEIP CEO also stressed that the programme is part of the government’s efforts toward supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture to help ensure food security and close the nation’s food import substitution gap.
He added that Government, through the ‘CARES’ Programme, is providing these funds to the beneficiaries, not only to nurture crops or livestock; or support agro and agri businesses ventures, but also nurture brains in creating a generation of successful agribusiness entrepreneurs.