Agriculture’s contribution to Ghana’s GDP has declined over the last decade due to a plethora of factors. From a position of 31.8% in 2008, its contribution to GDP slowed to below 21% in 2015, compared to Industry and Services which have revved up their contribution by about 5% within the same period.

Risk to Growth Outlook

[…] The challenge of access to irrigable land, financial services and markets, inter alia, are some of the core policy issues that require attention in order to create a supportive ecosystem for youth participation in agriculture. With the new policy direction of creating one factory in every district, the market risk that faces young agricultural entrepreneurs could be eliminated, leaving room to tackle other risk factors like financing, access to information/education, and export market development. It is also important to realize that while all the policy talk about improving supply chain efficiency is good, the reality of an ageing population of smallholder farmers, poses a risk to agricultural productivity and food security for Ghana. Research has shown (MIJARC/IFAD/FAO, 2012) that the youth pick up new technologies related to farming more easily than the aged making knowledge-based productivity improvements more practical with youthful involvement in agriculture. Again, the survival of the new and evolving agritech (agricultural technology) market, with actors such as Essoko and Farmerline Limited depends on the participation of an educated and tech-savvy demographic in rural agriculture. For us at Rural Heights Foundation therefore, the ultimate success of government’s 1 district 1 factory policy ought to be evaluated against three criteria:

1. Does each factory in located in a district help to manage supply risk by eliminating post-harvest losses?

2. Does the policy have a program component to encourage participation of the youth in agriculture as a way of reducing our dependency on aged smallholder farmers?

3. How would the policy create value for supply chain actors within the agritech space in order to encourage innovation?

Creating strategic linkages with programs that address youth involvement in the sector will drive productivity through adoption of newer technologies and also reduce youth unemployment.

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Though some may argue from the perspective of economic theory that this may be a desirable phenomenon, the ramifications and impact on food import, rural unemployment and internal migration creates an urgent imperative for policy intervention. The success of any such policy would however depend on the extent to which it addresses the issue of youth disinterest in agriculture.

Author: Nkunimdini Asante-Antwi || Director, Metis Decisions Limited