GRADUATE-in-AGRIBUSINESS


Agriculture, in all its forms, provides jobs and supports the livelihoods of many people in Ghana, especially small-holder farmers in rural parts of the country. The impact of agriculture and agribusiness in creating economic opportunities for large segments of the Ghanaian population is not in doubt. However, many farming methods employed by both industrial and smallholder farmers are not sustainable in the long-term.

With crop cultivation, we are experiencing rapid environmental degradation due, for instance, to extreme application of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, often leading to food contamination and groundwater pollution and contributing to soil erosion.

When it comes to livestock agriculture, environmental degradation comes from multiple sources as well. Pastoralism (referred to as Fulani Herdsmen) and free-range animal husbandry are the dominant production systems, but these involve extensive mobility of livestock. It is a fact that meat, dairy, and egg production are amongst the leading causes of human-caused climate change, soil erosion, water pollution, and the decrease in biodiversity. According to the FAO (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations), farmed animals are responsible for 14.5% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Animal agriculture also accounts for at least half of all food-related greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to being a huge source of emissions, animal agriculture further exacerbates climate change due to the clearance of forests, grasslands, and wetlands to provide land for grazing and to grow animal feed crops.

Added to the environmental issues raised above are depletion of fish stocks from the sea and freshwater bodies arising out of the use of chemicals, dynamites, small fishing nets and other over-fishing and water polluting methods. 

According to the FAO, the global food system in total contributes about 30% of all human-induced emissions.

 

Youth-in-Agribusiness (YiA) Programme: AP OAK’s answer to environmentally sustainable farming

The promotion and incubation of sustainable farming practices are AP OAK’s strategies for contributing to the prevention of the harm caused to the environment by smallholder and large-scale agriculture. Our Youth-in-Agribusiness projects are underpinned by eco-friendly and sustainable farming practices.  For us at AP OAK, sustainable agriculture should meet the needs of present as well as future generations. We seek to promote practices and incubate youth agribusinesses based on methods that are not harmful to the health of farmers nor consumers and should ultimately lead to a reduced impact on the environment. The solutions we promote are those that can offset environmental damage such as forest clearings, destruction of habitats, the negative impact of pesticides and intense carbon outputs.

The YiA is an agri-business incubation scheme that focuses on identifying young unemployed persons, particularly women and recent graduates and supporting these persons to establish and grow agribusiness enterprises based on environmentally sustainable farming practices. AP OAK supports beneficiaries of the project with the following services:

  • Land acquisition, development, allocation, and management of tenure systems
  • Development of FARM-to-TABLE agribusiness models
  • Identification, selection, formation of agribusiness units and incubator enterprises
  • Business incubation and advisory services
  • Technical support services: Seeds & Seedlings, Extension Services, Irrigation & Water, Financial Aid, Business controls & financial controls
  • Warehousing and value-add

•        Aggregation, Sales & Marketing

Youth-in-Livestock


The YiA-Livestock applies sustainable livestock breeding methods as the foundation for incubating livestock farm enterprises owned and operated by young persons. The YiA-Livestock has several sub-components, all of which intended to support young persons to gain insights and skills in sustainable animal husbandry practices.

The University of Ghana School of Agriculture, LIPREC, BNARI and LEVENTIS Foundation provide technical support and formal poultry management skills training to the project. Beneficiaries undergo 4-8-week intensive training at the LIPREC Training Institute.

  1. OAK and its partners have set up the Livestock Production Academy in Funko Village, near Takoradi to provide hands-on training in livestock production and business development as part of its incubator programme.

The core objectives of the YiA-Livestock are as follows:

  1. Grow eco-friendly oriented agripreneurs in livestock with potential for growth;
    2. Add value to the local poultry-for-meat sector by improving quality, productivity, shelf-life and processed variants (for example, chicken sausage, boxed chicken parts).
    3. Produce and market branded eggs through a network of retail outlets.
    4. Launch authentic Ghanaian food brands derived from meat produced by farmer co-operatives and out-growers made up of young persons, most of whom will be women.
    5. Promote made-in-Ghana food brands for all types of agricultural produce;
  2. Develop eco-friendly role models to encourage educated youth to take up agriculture
  3. Help the country wean itself off imports of basic food products that have the potential to create jobs in Ghana

Women-in-Vegetable Enterprise training (WiVE)

In Ghana, women generally face economic marginalization on many fronts. Even in agriculture, which is the sector where women outnumber men and contribute majority of the labour, women are still excluded from the more lucrative segments of the value chain. Consequently, women are challenged in their bid to strengthen their agency and control of the levers of economic power at all levels. The result is that women’s share-of-voice and exercise of control (over their own livelihoods) in the home, business, and community, are all compromised.

The economic marginalization faced by women is more dire in the youth segment, particularly among young females who have graduated from the various tertiary institutions. Despite national initiatives to address pervasive youth poverty arising out of high levels of youth unemployment (estimated by the UN in 2018 at 5.5%), the number of young women who cannot find sustainable jobs with decent wages is staggering.

The WIVE Project has been initiated as an adjunct of the GiA-Horticulture Module to address the acute levels of unemployment and economic marginalization faced by young women in Ghana. The project is an agri-business incubation scheme that focuses on identifying unemployed female graduates who are susceptible to prolonged periods of unemployment; and supporting these persons to establish and grow micro enterprises in the vegetable value-chain using sustainable farming systems. The choice of the vegetable sector for this project is due to the low investment required and its relative short maturity period. The project is a 3-month intensive eco-friendly agriculture training and enterprise set up comprised of formal workshops and practical on-field training and advisory service by experienced facilitators. The focus of the training is on organic and vertical farming methods. 

Mechanics of the WIVE Training Project

The WIVE Training and Incubation project will comprise of three main components.

  1. Component 1: Enterprise set-up and management skills training:

- General awareness seminars to educate beneficiaries of the numerous opportunities in horticulture.

- Horticulture enterprise set-up and management training workshop for 20 screened/pre-selected females.

  1. Component 2: Practical horticulture skills training:

- Practical farm skills training in eco-friendly vegetable farming using organic and vertical farming systems.

- Knowledge and skills in vegetable value addition, processing, and marketing.

- Innovative & Modern skills in farming, i.e. training for beneficiaries in hydroponics & vertical farming

- Application of new thinking, innovation, and technology in modern vegetable farming.

  1. Component 3: On-site farm/enterprise supervision and advisory:

- The beneficiaries will be supported to start micro-enterprises in their respective towns of residence.

- The foundation of these micro-enterprises will be at least 1-acre vegetable farms that beneficiaries will set up.

- Facilitators and consultants will provide beneficiaries with on-going technical and advisory services.

- Specialized farming practices to induce sustainable crop farming.

AP OAK has set up pilot farms designed to utilize and promote practices and technologies that improve productivity without harming the environment.  At our specialized farms, we experiment and teach solutions which can offset damages such as forest clearings, destruction of habitats, the negative impact of pesticides and intense carbon outputs is sustainable farming. We actively promote eco-friendly and sustainable farming solutions to overcome these damages associated with unsustainable farming practices. Some of are current and future projects are in the fields of:

Aquaponics: Fish and aquatic plants are grown together in tanks. The fish are fed a high-protein food source such as worms or insects and the fish waste nourishes the plants, which in turn clean the water. Aquaponically-grown fish can be an excellent, low-cost source of protein.

Rooftop farms and other urban agriculture: Agriculture that brings food production closer to communities by growing on city rooftops, in small backyard plots and in vacant lots.

Agroecology: The application of ecological concepts to the design and management of sustainable agro-ecosystems – farming in cooperation with nature. Many farming practices considered here, such as crop rotations and agroforestry, are agroecological practices. 1415 The term applies to farming methods, a scientific discipline and a social movement working for a new relationship between agriculture and society. 16

Regenerative: A farming philosophy and set of methods that go beyond organic by aiming to regenerate the air, soil, water, local environments, and communities. Regenerative agriculture methods usually also include a philosophy of fairness and humane treatment to both people and animals.

Permaculture. Permaculture is a food production system which mimics how vegetables and plants grow in natural ecosystems. It applies natural principles which combine intention, smart farming, and design to reduce waste of resources and increase production efficiency. The design techniques in permaculture include growing grains and vegetables without tillage, each plant undertaking various purposes, herb and plant spirals, hügelkultur beds and developing swales to hold water.

Aquaponics & Hydroponics

Aquaponics and hydroponics are innovative farming methods which involve soilless plant and vegetable growth, feeding the plants with nutrients which are carried by the water. Hydroponics systems involve using mineral solutions to feed the plants' roots directly in a passive medium such as perlite or gravel. However, aquaponics farming systems combine aquaculture and hydroponics elements. Water which contains nutrients resulted from the mineralization of fish waste feeds the roots of plants and vegetables which can grow in various mediums. The water is purified by the plants and returns to the hydroponics section of the system.

Crop Rotation & Polycultures

Farmers can decrease the chances of plant and vegetable diseases through crop diversification on a surface of land and through crop rotation techniques. The practices can also reduce the amount of pesticides and chemical fertilizers required.

 

Agroforestry. A farming method which involves growing shrubs and trees among other plants and vegetables. It combines forestry and agricultural practices to guarantee a sustainable and highly productive approach to land use. The system mimics forest ecosystems found in nature and it's designed to comprise multiple layers of food forests. It includes perennial plants such as fruit trees, perennial herbs, mushrooms, and other vegetables on the ground level and underground root vegetables. Compared to traditional farming systems, agroforestry can double crop yields and significantly decreases the need for chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

 

Focus Sectors/Products

  • Cereals – Maize, Beans and Rice
  • Tubers – Yam and Cassava
  • Livestock – Poultry, Piggery and Rabbits
  • Aqua Fishery
  • Horticulture – Vegetables and Fruits

 

Our current environmentally sustainable agriculture projects

Here are the top 4 sustainable farming practices which guarantee a green and environmentally friendly production of vegetables, fruits, livestock, and fishery.

  • Graduate-in-Agribusiness Horticulture.

GiA-Horticulture – Our vision for truly sustainable fruit and vegetable farming

The GiA-Horticulture is the actualization of our vision for truly sustainable fruit and vegetable farming.

The GiA-Horticulture involves the incubation of agri-business enterprises by beneficiaries of the project in the horticulture sub-sector using environmentally sustainable farming practices. The project features incubation of micro-enterprises by unemployed graduates based on 2-3 acre lots dedicated to the intense cultivation of a variety of vegetables and fruits. The GiA-Horticulture is being implemented as a reality TV show featuring graduates and final-year student teams from selected tertiary institutions. The objective is to popularize the awareness of environmentally sustainable farming practices to farmers and the youth in Ghana.

GiA-Horticulture promotes, educates, and incubates youth farm enterprises using some of these sustainable crop production techniques:

Soil health management

Low or no-till practices

Sustainable weed control

Sustainable planting and plant management methods

Sustainable seeds and seedling development

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AP OAK provides the youth, particularly young women and university graduates, in Ghana with entrepreneurial and vocational opportunities in the agri-business sector.

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