President John Mahama has expressed concerns about the ageing farmer population in West Africa.
According to the President, the ageing farmer population in the sub-region is posing significant challenges to the cocoa industry.
He explained that the current farmer population is not strong enough to produce enough food items in the sub-region, saying “those in agriculture are currently all aged.”
The development, President Mahama said, might pose serious security and food problems to the sub-region if steps are not taken.
He made this known yesterday in Accra in a statement read on his behalf by the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna at the opening ceremony of the second Pan-African Conference on Agribusiness Incubation.
The high level three-day event is being held at the Accra International Conference Centre under the theme: ‘Turning Science into Business: Inclusive Agribusiness Incubation for vibrant economies in Africa.’
President Mahama said it’s important for governments within the sub-region to devise policies and programmes that can help attract the youth into the agriculture subsector so that they can replace the current aged population.
He said “it is therefore important for all of us to recognize the fact that programmes aimed at attracting the youth into agriculture will be addressing both food and national security issues.”
The President added that “therefore, nurturing youth venturing into agribusinesses with their ideas, as well as start-ups is critical.”
He called for the commercialization and mechanization of the agriculture on the continent.
According to him, the use of incubator programmes is a necessary aspect of agribusiness development.
Dr Alex Ariho, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the African Agribusiness Incubators Network (AAIN), organizers of the conference, said “on the global agenda today, innovation has become the best means of fostering commercialization.”
Across Africa, he said, incubators continue to assist in harnessing the value chain approach.
He said, “It’s through incubation that many countries today have managed to develop value chains that were for long left to subsistence agriculture, as more entrepreneurs develop enterprises along the same value chains.”
Dr Ariho explained that AAIN is a network of incubators with a continental presence that offers incubation to incubators for jobs and wealth creation.
Meanwhile, Board Chair of AAIN, Professor Henry Bwisa said “with the coordinated effort from the Africa Agribusiness Incubator Network, incubators continue to evolve into the solution to unemployment which now threatens a working-age population of 1.4 billion people in Africa by 2050.”
By Melvin Tarlue