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Women and youth play a key role in Ghana’s development

FAO Deputy Regional Representative, Jocelyne Brown Hall addressing participants
05/08/2019

FAO and partners highlight productive investment in this sector

Women and youth occupy a crucial role in agricultural production and when given access to inputs, finance, and markets, have huge potential in the development of agri-businesses and agro-industries.

The declaration came from the recent meeting in Ghana where stakeholders including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) joined other partners in highlighting its commitment in enabling women and youth-led initiatives. The organization supports multi-stakeholder dialogues and online channels on different thematic areas, such as land tenure, information and communication technology, public private partnerships, including women and youth-led agribusinesses.

The critical role of women and youth

The agriculture sector is at the heart of the national economy of Ghana, contributing around 20 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and providing approximately 50 percent of total employment. Most marginalized groups live in rural areas and heavily engaged in agriculture. 

As past experience shows, agricultural growth contributed to reduced poverty and food insecurity in the country, and helped propel Ghana to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal of reaching its target on reducing poverty and hunger. 

As the new framework for development, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) represents a global commitment where Ghana and member states are prioritizing areas of development. With agriculture as the forefront and enabler of development, there is the need for more inclusive and sustainable agricultural growth to achieve the SDGs, including the eradication of hunger and poverty. 

In Ghana’s case, women and youth have played key role in agriculture. Additionally, the country has a young population with limited employment opportunities. FAO together with its partners have rolled out multi-stakeholder engagements to ensure that internationally agreed standards promote more and better investment, such as the CFS Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI), are turned into action. This is a series of engagements in Ghana beginning in 2015, with the most recent one in 2019. One common denominator in RAI highlights the importance of investment by and to the benefit of women and youth.

FAO Deputy Regional Representative, Jocelyne Brown Hall, said that the organization is working with the government of Ghana and development partners to establish a strong enabling environment where everyone can benefit from the generation of decent rural employment and entrepreneurial opportunities through a range of interventions.

Brown Hall noted that, “FAO builds on existing efforts to enhance the engagement of women and youth through inclusive investment that contributes to food security, generates decent jobs that leads to rural transformation. She further added that strengthening partnerships between the key actors, such as youth and women’s groups as well youth and women’s led agribusinesses can act as a catalyst.

FAO’s work on youth and women

FAO’s flagship publication, the State of Food and Agriculture from 2010, stated that bridging the gender gap in agriculture could lift up to 150 million people from food insecurity. 

To mitigate the troubling trend, FAO and other development partners in the ECOWAS region are supporting a Parliamentarian Network on gender equitable investment in agriculture and food security to create more effective legislation and policies. Stakeholders believe that enabling women and youth to save and make productive investment in all segments of the agricultural value chains is vital. 

Women are major agricultural producers, and often responsible for the production of food for local consumption and have the potential in the development of agri-businesses and agro-industries when given access to inputs, finance, and markets.

The Chief Executive Officer of the National Youth Authority of Ghana, Emmanuel Asigri, urged participants take advantage of the meeting to come out with workable resolutions to help promote women and youth in agribusiness, which will intend contribute to reducing youth unemployment in Ghana.

He said the National Youth Authority has piloted several initiatives aimed at ensuring the youth becoming the driving force of new agriculture and agribusiness enterprises as well as rural transformation. “From our Side at the National Youth Authority, we have piloted the “Youth Livelihood Farms “as a complement to government’s Planting for Food and Jobs programme. Towards this, a 120-acre maize farm was cultivated in the Upper West Region 120 young people were enrolled on this initiative with 30% female participation.

About the online dialogue platform

This platform is to promote dialogue and enable stakeholders to discuss an action plan launched by FAO and serves as an area of engagement for more than 300 members sharing experiences and discussing critical issues and the thematic areas of the action plan.

So far, these discussions have provided input to three country-specific (Ghana) briefs on information communication and technology, finance, and land tenure for women and youth. Participants have also discussed gender and youth inclusive Public-Private Partnerships and exchange of knowledge in rural areas.

This initiative is a practical way to support the operationalization of the CFS-RAI principles in Ghana and it is particularly aligned with Principle 3 on gender equality and women’s empowerment, and Principle 4 on engagement and empowerment of youth.