A young commercial farmer has called on the government to motivate the youth to invest in agriculture with incentive packages that will attract them to sustain their farms.
Mr Awal, the CEO of MM-Awal Company Limited said agriculture is a very lucrative venture which the government needs to encourage the youth to embrace in order to be gainfully employed and contribute to national food self-sufficiency and for export to garner foreign exchange.
“We need guidance that can motivate the youth,” he said.
Speaking to the media recently in Tamale in the Northern Region, Mr.Mahamud Mohammed Awal, who is passionate about agriculture and owns large yam, cassava and other crops farms, and rears animals and with fish ponds, emphasized the importance of agriculture.
“The youth should understand that agriculture is a very serious lucrative business and they should embrace it so that they can be self-employed and employ other people.
Though agriculture is difficult and risky, almost everything in life is also risky. Even eating food is risky. So the youth must not be discouraged from engaging in agriculture,” he stated.
Mr Awal said with the support of the government, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), the media and other stakeholders, the youth will be incentivized to cherish agriculture since farming is a noble occupation.
“I travel to many countries, and when you go to the United States, Thailand, China and the UK, farmers are highly respected. Food is very crucial to life, and during the Coronavirus lockdown, agriculture played a key role, not the number of cars that you have,” he said.
Mr Awal lamented that the high interest rates that banks charges do not encourage the youth to venture into agriculture since farmers bear 70% of the risk, while the banks take the remaining 30%.
He noted that despite the establishment of the Ghana Export-Import (EXIM) Bank, many farmers do not get access to credit.
He therefore appealed to the government to adopt innovative policies which make credit readily available to farmers, especially young persons, to set up start-ups in agriculture.
He advised the youth to start the farming business with small amounts.
He lauded the government for establishing the national youth entrepreneurial programme. But he conceded that the agricultural progammes are not maintained and “implementation is difficult.”
Mr Awal stressed that farmers need sensitization and training to be more productive, imploring the government and the media to support agriculture proactively.
“The media have a big role to play. The media’s voice goes far to the people,” he added.
He said what the youth require to succeed in agriculture was focus and good time management.
He has produced half a million tonnes of cassava, and has acquired 2,500 hectares of land for cultivation.
The nuclear farms of Awal Enterprise employ 120 permanent and 250 casual workers. About 4, 070 smallholder farmers from the Northern, North East, Savanna, Upper East and Upper West regions have benefited from Mr Awal’s farming activities.
~Joseph Nana Yaw Cobbina