An initial batch of 500 youth farmers, processors and agricultural technology (agritech) developers across the country are being supported to use technology and other innovative ways to engage in smart farming.
Under the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP), the support will also train the youth in modern agriculture and help them generate appreciable incomes to meet their personal and business needs through farming as a commercial business venture.
Dubbed: ‘The Youth in Innovative Agriculture (YIIA)’, the programme is expected to replace the ageing population in farming, as it trains the next generation of young and smart farmers to ensure agricultural productivity and food security.
The project, which is being funded from the GH¢100 billion Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) ‘Obaatan pa’ programme of the Ministry of Finance, is targeted at players in vegetable, maize, poultry, livestock, yam and cassava farming.
Similarly, the programme will provide support for those into agro-processing and agricultural technology or solutions.
The Ghana CARES programme is a three-year programme to ensure that productive sectors of the economy are supported to spur growth and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beneficiaries of the programme will receive sums ranging from GH¢20,000 to GH¢200,000 as flexible loan facilities payable within three to five years at an interest rate of 10 per cent per annum.
Application for the programme is open to all Ghanaians and started from yesterday to February 5, this year.
The YIIA programme seeks to enlist young people between 18 and 40 years who are into agriculture to be trained and funded.
Launching the programme yesterday, the Director of Business Support and Policy at the NEIP, Mr Franklin Owusu-Karikari, said the concept of support for youth in agriculture was necessary because it would help facilitate food and nutrition security in the country.
He said the programme would help increase productivity in the agricultural sector, since it would encourage many youth into the sector.
“Increased productivity in the agricultural sector depends on the youth, who comprise 30 to 40 per cent of Ghana’s active population,” he said.
Similarly, he noted, the programme would help address Ghana’s ageing farmer population, stressing that “there is compelling evidence of ageing farmer population in the country which must be addressed to facilitate sustainability in agricultural production”.
Mr Owusu-Karikari, therefore, encouraged all Ghanaians who fell within the target group to apply for the programme.
He explained that applicants would be taken through a month’s training.