Graduates taking part in the Kosmos Innovation Centre (KIC) project aimed at forming partnerships to tackle challenges in the agricultural sector of the country have vowed not to abandon their entrepreneurial projects even if they do not win the ultimate grant to operationalise their proposals.
After months of going through stages of the AgriTech challenge, in addition to business capacity building which exposed them to some of the challenges and opportunities in the agriculture sector, some of the team members were unanimous: “we think such platforms and mentoring provide the perfect solution to graduate unemployment. Many of us were blinded by the rigorous search for non-existing jobs.”
The members were part of the teams that made it through to the final stage of the contest to access grant to implement projects in agriculture in ways that is transformational. Their views come after the contest had provided them the opportunity to interact with players in the agriculture and agribusiness value chain across five regions.
According to the participants, such an approach was very appropriate for resolving the graduate unemployment in the country.
The KIC grant
KIC has been instituted by Kosmos Energy Ghana this year to help the country’s efforts to build a brighter future by tackling some of the country’s key challenges.
The KIC put the spotlight on agriculture as a pilot because of the sector’s importance in the Ghana’s economy.
After the launch in March, more than 100 young entrepreneurs across the country entered the competition, which began with the inaugural AgriTech Exchange in April.
They went through an interactive and informative brainstorming session in which experts in agriculture, business, and technology gathered to define the most pressing challenges facing Ghana’s agriculture sector.
It was pruned to 44 (11 teams) and later to six entrepreneur teams which have come up with highly innovative ideas aimed at enhancing the agriculture. The winners will be announced later this month.
At the final selection stage, Mr Muhammed Adamu, a computer engineer and member of one of the groups, codenamed AgriPut, said agriculture was a viable alternative to any white collar job often sought after by the teeming youth.
“However, through the KIC programme we can assure you that it was easy to link my knowledge in information technology to provide solutions to a problem in agriculture,” he explained.
He said the most significant moment for them as young graduates was when they were exposed the fact that they are on the verge of becoming young entrepreneurs.
“Instead of begging for job as graduates, we can say confidently say that we have been groomed for the challenge ahead,” he said.
“Up until this stage, farmers and agro inputs producers/importers in the country, encounter series of challenges dealing with fake and unauthentic agro inputs which affects life seriously,” he said.
Ms Sarah Naa Okailey of the Farm Hub Global team said the challenges along the agricultural value chain constituted great opportunities to earning a living and contributing to higher productivity in agriculture.
“We have identified clients in the hospitality industry, where hotels and restaurants and other food-joints struggle for supply of high quality ingredients. Our interventions will ensure that we provide the perfect linkage for the producer and buyers,” she said.
For instance, Farm Hub Global carefully studied the challenge and came up with a virtual and physical web space to link big buyers, aggregators to farmers, she explained.
“Our system is designed to make marketing, sales and purchase of agriculture produce easy and assessable for all along the value chain,” she said.
AgBSOL is also another team, whose leader, Mr Mike Boadu, said his team would develop a virtual central depository using the data of the farmers to resolve the difficulty farmers go through in marketing their produce.
The database, he said, would provide reliable data of farmers and buyers such as their contact, location, price, type of crop, quantity, crop quality, land size of the farmer etc for easy transaction.
The other problem by another group known as ‘Trotro Tractor’ was the establishment of mechanisation centres for farmers where tractor and other farm preparation services would be available. “The mechanisation centres will ease the pain of farmers who have to wait for a long time to prepare or expand their farms,” he stated.
Another team, CediLink, came up with an innovative financial services solution. Cedilink sees an untapped market where their product will bridge the information gap between banks and smallholder farmers by being the aggregator of information about the smallholder farmers.
This would `de-risk the nature of credit given to farmers through a digital bookkeeping platform that tracks productivity, expenses, revenues and general performance to help financial institutions make informed decisions in their loan appraisals.
Tabby Nanzale of the Ghalani team believes that already the KIC project had created entrepreneurs out of them and would not abandon the projects they had started, even if they did not emerge winners.
Professor Sammy T. Sackey, one of the judges, said the sector provided broad areas for graduates to take advantage of and decide what they wished to do.
“It is important that graduates could also go into the production of exportable produce which means that agriculture is viable and very open,” he said.
The unattractiveness of the sector to the young people could be attributed to the culture of education.
“And as a result, agriculture has suffered, if you are not using knowledge, information and technology, then you cannot really compete because without that would not be able to apply and maximise yield,” he said.
Professor Sackey believes the KIC project was timely and must be sustained to whip up the interest of the youth in the sector, which had a lot to offer.
Credit Source: Samuel Doe Ablordeppey & Kobla Dotsey Aklorbortu, Daily Graphic