The Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP) is being expanded by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to cover livestock farming, aquaculture and agribusiness to create more job opportunities for the youth.
The YIAP has so far concentrated only on block farming in six regions but it is now being extended to all the 10 regions.
At the fourth matriculation and third congregation of the Faculty of Agriculture of the Methodist University College Ghana (MUCG), Wenchi Campus in the Brong Ahafo Region, the Minister of Agriculture, Mr Kwesi Ahwoi, said under the YIAP, 12,000 hectares of maize, rice and soybean had been cultivated, while 47,000 people had been gainfully employed.
“The plan for 2010 is to expand the programme to cover all the four components and also all the districts in the 10 regions. The President has directed ministers and all political leaders, Council of State members, parliamentarians and metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs) to also engage in one agricultural venture or another,” he said.
At the joint ceremony, 80 students were officially admitted to the university college to pursue degree, diploma and certificate courses in General Agriculture, Agro-processing and Horticulture, while 10 students graduated with Diploma in General Agriculture.
It was on the theme, “Enhancing quality food production and agric-business through value chain development”.
Mr Ahwoi said the ministry was also pursuing the irrigation development programme and had completed the rehabilitation of selected irrigation projects across the country.
He said the second phase of the rehabilitation of the Tono Irrigation Project had been completed, while efforts were being made to rehabilitate 30 other dams in the Greater Accra and Volta regions.
Furthermore, he said, 500 boreholes were being constructed for irrigation and agro-processing in all the 10 regions, while studies had been completed to activate the Accra Plains Irrigation Project, which could irrigate 150,000 hectares.
Mr Ahwoi commended the Faculty of Agriculture of the MUCG for being a trailblazer in commodity value chain development in the country.
He noted that the initiatives of the college had also helped farmers to produce for the ultimate benefit of the final consumer and expressed the hope that those efforts would be replicated in other parts of the region and subsequently in all parts of the country.
The Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana and Chairman of MUCG Council, the Most Rev Prof Emmanuel K. Asante, in his address, said the aim of programmes of the faculty in the field of agricultural was to impact positively on the lives of farmers in and around the Wenchi municipality.
He urged the graduate to put into practical use the knowledge they had acquired by venturing into farming to boost food production to address poverty, particularly in the rural communities.
The Principal of the MUCG, the Very Rev Prof Samuel K. Adjepong, said the curriculum of the faculty was designed to prepare students to be self-employed in farming business, stressing that courses in the faculty had been carefully selected and prepared, taking cognisance of national agricultural policies and the human resource needs of the agricultural sector.
He said the faculty produced yoghourt and fresh fruit drink which did not contain any additives for sale, saying as soon as the faculty purchased industrial machines, it would flood the market with those products.
The Very Rev Prof Adjepong appealed to MoFA to assist the faculty with a processing machine to enable it to go into large-scale production and also set up a mechanisation centre.