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GHANA: Volta Foundation to harness youth for faster development
Ho, Feb 18, GNA – The Volta Foundation, a development advocacy NGO, is to harness the energies of the youth to accelerate the economic growth of the Volta Region. Mr Dumega Raymond Okudzeto, President of the Foundation, was addressing its fourth anniversary durbar on Thursday in Ho under the theme “Harnessing Our Energies for the Accelerated development of the Volta Region: 2010, the Year for Youth Empowerment”. He described the youth as the region’s most treasured asset without whom the repositioning of the region for accelerated development cannot happen. Mr Okudzeto said the Foundation had assembled a team of resource persons to talk to the youth and inspire them to go the extra mile to achieve their life’s ambitions and become useful to the region and the country as a whole.
Volta Foundation has since its establishment campaigned alone and also partnered other organizations to find antidotes to the sluggish economic growth of the region. This culminated in the November 2009 Volta Trade and Investment Exposition in Ho held by the Foundation in collaboration with the Region’s political authority and the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) with technical support from the SNV. The Eastern Portfolio Coordinator of the Dutch Development Agency (SNV), Mr Dick Commandeur, said a good option for the youth in the region now was to get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce.
He said it was not enough for officialdom to recognize that agriculture and tourism were the important economic sectors in the area, but also to “invest ideas, time and money to make the sectors give a good income so that they become attractive to young people”.
Mr Commandeur called for efforts to stimulate informal businesses, and urged young people to be “impregnated with the idea of entrepreneurship. They should also learn to “take initiative, take risk, elaborate new ideas and partner with others”.
Mrs Dorothy Gordon, Director of the Ghana/India Kofi Annan ICT Center, advised the youth to take advantage of the Volta Foundation’s ICT centers to be established in various parts of the region to gain skills that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment.
Other papers delivered were on the state of agriculture in the region and its prospects.
MY COMMENT (Willem VAN COTTHEM)
Before gaining skills in the ICT centers “that would enable them to boost their chances of getting employment“, getting the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce would certainly be far more profitable for the African youth, not only that of Ghana.
Young people can deliver a tremendous contribution to the sustainable development of their region after being trained in the best practices of agriculture and horticulture. On the African continent, in particular in rural regions where a high percentage of the population is regularly affected by hunger, NGOs should concentrate their efforts on small-scale farming and small-scale gardening.
Boys and girls can effectively help their families to secure sufficient food and to improve the families’ financial situation. Take the example of Patrick HARRY in Malawi (see former postings on this blog), who has set up a “Youth Club”, called the “Future of Malawi”, in which he is training young people in container gardening. His first successes were booked within a period of 2-3 months.
With very limited financial resources, rural and even urban youth can get the skills and the cash to produce high quality agricultural produce, be it with kitchen gardens, container gardening, allotment gardens or with vertical gardening in the cities. No one can deny all those success stories showing the remarkable return on investment of these cultivation methods, going back to the roots of the population in all the drylands of the world. Once small-scale farming produces sufficient fresh food to bring food security, time will come to introduce new technologies. Let us not put the horse behind the wagon !
Helping their families to quality fresh food and creating possibilities to take quality food to the market offers more opportunities to “harness youth for faster sustainable development”.
That is a noble challenge for all NGOs and Foundations, if not for the international agencies concerned.