The first batch of beneficiaries of the Youth in Export Programme (YiEP) has completed its six-month training.
The members of the group were selected from about 67 applicants for the pilot phase of the YiEP, dubbed: “Youth in Farming and Export of Agricultural Products” being run by the Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA), in collaboration with the Youth Employment Agency (YEA).
The trainees, numbering 20, were selected across the Eastern, Central and Volta regions and were attached to experienced exporters (mentors) in the horticultural sector who gave each of them practical on-field training in the production of pineapple, papaya, and vegetables (chili, okra and aubergine) with focus on the export market.
The beneficiaries comprised 16 young men and four young women. Eight of beneficiaries were trained in the production of pineapple, 11 in vegetable production were one was trained in the production of papaya.
The organisers said the pilot phase of the programme, implemented by the GEPA and YEA was aimed at building the capacity of the youth who were interested in agriculture to take farming as a serious enterprise, to be gainfully employed and to employ other youth.
Above all, it is to groom beneficiaries to become exporters, thereby contribute to the expected growth of the export sector in line with the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS).
At a closing ceremony for the trainees in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GEPA, Ms Afua Asabea Asare, gave the assurance that of the authority was committed to continue the programme and expand it to benefit more of the teeming youth.
“I commend you the “graduands” for completing the course and making us all proud. We hope that you are all poised and ready for the long haul. GEPA will be monitoring closely, your activities and provide the necessary technical support to ensure that you succeed,” she said.
She said that as part of the assistance that GEPA was offering the pioneers of the YiEP, they had already been provided funds to lease and prepare an acre of land each ready to start their agri-business journey.
They were also supplied with inputs such as seeds and suckers, fertilisers, agro-chemicals, irrigation facilities, among others things.
“What is even more fulfilling is the fact that their mentors are committed to off-take all their “first fruits” and all their subsequent harvests until they are mature enough to start their own export operations,” she added.
The Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Hebert Krapa, said the value of the training could not be overemphasised as more graduates are engaged in the agric-business space.
He said the project also comes at a most opportune time, when GEPA was leading the implementation of the NED which also has a focus to ensure the empowerment of the youth for exports,” he said.
“In view of the ambitious target set in the NEDS, the non-traditional export sector to achieve a revenue target of $25.3 billion in the next 10 years. Any programme that will contribute to the rapid attainment of this target deserves the support and corporation of all relevant stakeholders.
“I commend this remarkable collaboration between GEPA and YEA and the experienced exporters who served as mentors to the beneficiaries of this laudable project,” he said.
While commending the beneficiaries, he also urged them to see the opportunity offered them as a stepping stone.
“Your main achievement is ahead of you, provided you will remain dedicated to the course and build internal resilience for the obstacles ahead,” he said.