In partnership with the German development agency GIZ, and funded by the German government, Goldfields Ghana Limited is presenting new opportunities for youth agripreneurship through the Youth in Organic Horticulture Production (YouHoP) project.
Subsistent farming is the order of the day in Ghana's agricultural sector, and with ageing farmers who perceive farming as a way of life, not as a business.
YouHoP therefore enables the youth to venture into commercial vegetable farming, generating jobs and income opportunities in their localities and across Ghana.
The youth must earn a living, but the opportunities to do so are diminished as the gold mines operated by Gold Fields Ghana in 17 communities in Tarkwa and Damang do not provide as many job opportunities for the local communities as they hope for, particularly those who lack adequate education and skills.
For the young generation farming is increasingly unattractive as a livelihood option due to insuﬀicient earnings and being highly labour intensive.
Instead, some of them resort to illegal mining known as “galamsey'- gather and sell for their survival, accepting the hazards that it poses to their health and the environment in the process.
Growing vegetables is a good and sustainable alternative for these young people. It does not require much land and has comparably fast income generation cycle.
What is more, vegetable production allows opportunities to introduce technology and improved farming methods to reduce labour intensity and operate on business principles.
Agripreneurship in action
YouHoP was commissioned by Germany's Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2016 and in partnership with Goldfields Ghana Limited to provide jobs and generate income opportunities for more than 1,000 people between 15 and 24 years of age.
This will be achieved through the cultivation of wholesome vegetables and promotion of businesses along the entire vegetable value chain.
Youth agripreneurs undergo hands-on training on established demonstration farms, while working in associations or groups based on selected commodities and farm locations.
In working on their own farms, agripreneurs have hundred percent extension service support throughout the production cycle.
On July 18, 2017 the first YouHoP agripreneur harvested 164 kg of wholesome organic cucumber from 0.3-acre land.
This was sold to Allterrain Services (ATS), the main catering services provider for Gold Fields. Since then, over 2600 kg of wholesome cucumber has been sold to various buyers.
The now Youth agripreneurs are over joyed with their bumper harvest and reliable markets for the first time, and are so encouraged and motivated to produce more of such vegetables under the required quality standard and conditions.
They look forward to the establishment of the YouHoP ICT platform designed to provide information of market opportunities, pricing, mobile extension support.
“This is the first time I have cultivated cucumber. I have never seen the plant before and I didn't know that it pays so much to do agriculture using improved methods of farming.
The best part is unlike the days I see produce rot in my father's farm, because he didn't know who was going to buy, YouHoP has linked us to buyers without stress.
My money will be paid into my YouHoP credit union account. For this, we are grateful”, said one of YouHoP’s participants.
Natural resource-related industries – a source of jobs
The project in Ghana is part of a BMZ regional programme “Employment for sustainable development in Africa (E4D)”.
Public-private partnerships with domestic and multinational companies, especially in natural resource related industries, projects are developed to promote local employment along the partner companies' investments and supply chains.
E4D aims to ensure that such private investments actually lead to local employment by training people in skilled crafts and service sectors and supporting small enterprises in the supply industry.
This not only delivers the skilled workers and local suppliers the industry urgently needs, but benefits other sectors, too, helping to diversify the economy and lower the region's dependency on mineral deposits and the commodities industry.
Through to the end of its term in 2019, the project aims to bring over 38,000 people into jobs.