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Opinions of Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Columnist: Mawuli Atsu Dzikunoo

Supporting business ideas by undergraduates

In today’s Ghana, entrepreneurship has become a sought — after quality that most young graduates must wield in order to secure a decent earning.

The deficit of employment as against thousands of graduates produced by tertiary institutions in the country, unfortunately, leaves behind a number of jobless Bachelor of Arts and Sciences degree holders.

But, against this turmoil, agribusiness, the backbone of the economy with its numerous prospects and lucrative avenues stands the capacity to absorb unemployed graduates in Ghana.

Currently, the potentials of the agriculture sector is highly underutilised. From our cash crops to grains, fruits and vegetables, livestock and others, there are countless skills and expertise needed along the value chain.

The contribution of each player is vital to the productivity of the sector. However, there are not adequate players along our value chain and this can be partly blamed for our low rate of performance in the year 2015.

According to a report put together by the Ghana Survey Department and the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana has 14,038,224 square kilometres of agriculture land out of a total land area of 23,844,245 square kilometres.

However, 7,847,300 square metres of this agriculture land is being cultivated, constituting 55.90 per cent . This leaves 44.10 percent which is approximately 6,190,924 square metres of potential agriculture land untapped.

With the acquisition of land being a major factor in agriculture, this means half the challenge of an agribusiness startup has been solved. This is just to express the very fact that agriculture in Ghana abounds in lucrative potentials and prospects.

Agribusiness

Also, in the world over, agriculture has evolved into what is now known as agribusiness, and is centred on making profits through maximised productivity.

This is in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of reducing poverty by ensuring food security through the prevention of food shortage. So then, if we have untapped potentials and a population of unemployed graduates, what better opportunity would there be than to inspire in them the desire to be “agri-preneurs”.

This is what the Agrisolve Agribusiness Proposal Competition sought to achieve during the just ended University of Ghana’s International Association of Agriculture Students (IAAS) annual Green Week celebration.

There has been a lot of talk about why a graduate should bow down his or her head in shame for being tagged, “unemployed”. This is because many believe to qualify as a graduate, you must have been brought to a level of maturity and responsibility through an effective educational system.

This fact, however, in our part of the world is half baked by virtue of the fact that it is rather rare to see support being given wholly to business ideas being initiated by unemployed graduates. This is what has rendered most graduates redundant and at the dependence of non-existing jobs.

It, therefore, comes as great news when some corporate organisations such as Agrisolve commit their resources to supporting business ideas by undergraduates.

If this trend is allowed to grow, there will definitely be the ripple effect of undergraduates and graduates becoming job providers instead of seekers.

The news ,however, gets better when the business ideas are focused on agriculture, the backbone of our economy. In an age where Ghana is producing far less than it needs for consumption and the agro-export rate keeps diminishing, an agribusiness proposal competition for the youth is security of food for the future.

Support for Youth entrepreneurship

Agrisolve Ghana, an agric based organisation, has proved its commitment to youth entrepreneurship in the area of agriculture by awarding the winner of the agribusiness proposal competition a whopping GH¢10,000 price package.

This would see to it that Sylvester Williams, a level 300 Agriculture Science student of the School of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, University of Ghana, acquire the needed resources to start off his business.

Using Sylvester as a case study, if he is able to efficiently apply these funds to his business initiative, he would not be needing a job when he graduates from the university. If his prospects are looking good, the young chap should count himself among employers, answering a number of job-seeking calls from his colleagues.

In essence, just by virtue of the fact that Agrisolve Ghana believes unemployed graduates can make a decent earning in the many prospects of the agriculture sector, the rate of unemployment stands at reducing as a ripple effect.

Imperative, it would be if corporate bodies and individuals join Agrisolve Ghana’s bandwagon; promoting agri-preneurship among the youth in Ghana. Then we would be killing two birds with one stone; reducing unemployment, while maximising the agriculture potentials in Ghana.