Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Three year old girl shot dead by seven year old brother

A seven year old boy has allegedly shot dead his three year old sister at Asuoyeboah, a suburb of Kumasi.

The incident occurred Wednesday afternoon in a semi-detached two room apartment, believed to be Mission House of a local charismatic church.

“I was with a friend when I heard the gun shot, so we have to run there. When we got there we saw a three year old girl lying in a pool of blood with a seven year old boy running away. So I held the boy, I questioned him and he said he was playing with the sister with the gun when the gun fired”, narrated to a resident, Akua Afriyie Amanfo.

The injured girl was sent to the Kwadaso SDA Hospital in an unconsciousness state, said Dr. Agyemang Boateng, Medical Director at the hospital.

He told Luv Fm “the girl had been shot in the head and the brain matter was actually exposed and she was bleeding”.

She received sterile dressing and was transferred to the Accident and Emergency Unit at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.

The kids are alleged to have been playing in a room next door, occupied a young man who is said to be plying his trade at Suame Magazine.

The police team that arrived at the scene could however not immediately retrieve the firearm, which is reported to be a locally manufactured shot gun.

Investigations have started but residents are seeking answers to diverse questions, including how the room remained unlocked when the occupant was out at work, why a gun would be left in the open in such a room, how and why the gun was acquired and what the children were doing in the room?

The mother of the two kids, whose name is given only as Ama, a pure water seller, is presently emotionally unstable to speak.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

BEIGE CEO tells Ghanaian youth “it’s our time”

At age 36, Michael Nyinaku is setting an excellent pace in the world of business for many a Ghanaian youth presently seeking employment opportunities.

As Chief Executive Officer of the BEIGE Group, Mike has founded a number of wholly-owned Ghanaian companies in finance, hospitality, real estate and logistics as well as a charity Foundation for orphans and the vulnerable.

Today, Beige Capital and Beige Village, Golf Resort and Spa are fast growing as competitive brands on the market, generating employment and .

Mike was adjudged the Best Young Entrepreneur for 2011 at the Ghana Entrepreneur Awards and has emerged the overall male National Youth Personality for the year at the National Youth Achievers Awards (NYAA).

He is ‘humbled’ by the recognition and believes this is the time for the Ghanaian youth to take the mantle of leadership.

“It’s our time and we’re lucky to have a climate that is favourable for enterprise”, he told Luv Biz Report in an interview. “People of our age have had this opportunity because back in years, people could not express their initiatives but now we have political stability, there is a lot of investment coming into the country and there is belief in us as a people that can do better for our country”.

The young achiever is optimistic Ghana’s youth “would turn things around” in the next ten years.

Meanwhile, BEIGE Capital has increased its branches to 18, with the opening of six new branches in Kumasi.

The networks, located at Atonsu, Adum, Bantama, Suame, Tafo and Afful Nkwanta, have recorded about eight thousand customers in less than three months of operations.

“At Beige Capital we believe in rapid expansion because we’re not going to foreclose our business anytime soon. We’ll be in Kumasi for a lifetime, that is why we did not hesitate at all in opening six branches in one day… we are in Kumasi to partner the business community and grow with Kumasi”, stated Mike Nyinaku.

The CEO says the company is raising the bar in the financial service industry, priding in its operations as the most capitalized savings and loans company in the country.

According to him, the firm is pursuing a win-win clients’ relations model in a new way of lending to sustain businesses through a strict loan disbursement monitoring system.

He indicated Beige Capital, which was established in 2008, should go nationwide by 2014.

Story Kofi Adu Domfeh

Weblinks October 2012

http://www.africanews.com/site/Youth_with_swag_can_succeed_in_agriculture/list_messages/42505
http://entertainment.myjoyonline.com/pages/news/201210/96313.php

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Youth with ‘swag’ can succeed in agriculture

Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru is a young Nigerian lady passionately driving the beauty in agriculture in her home country. Proud to be a farmer, she’s got her swag – twitting @PrettyFarmer on her sleek tablet.

Cynthia produces food to feed her nation, and delights in inspiring other young persons to take up a profession in agribusiness.

Her company, Honeysuckle Ventures, distributes livestock produce to fast food companies and restaurants in Lagos and one of her farms is used for research and training of young farmers in the agri-food sector.

For Cynthia, it is critical that women and the youth focus less on the drudgery of agriculture and rather focus on the opportunities therein for financial independence and the nutritional security of families.

“If people are concerned about the quality of the food that they eat, they should be concerned about the quality of the produce that comes out of the farm…it means that we need to be involved” she noted. “Now if as women, as young people we love to eat, wear cloths, we love to spend money, then I think it’s critical that we begin to look closely at the agric sector”.

Cynthia inspires her peers not only in Nigeria but others of Africa to venture agriculture, a profession often perceived to be unattractive to today’s African youth.

“I think that people need to begin to look at the brighter side and then appreciate agriculture for what it is – a wealth creating platform. This is one sector that singly is capable of creating total employment across its value chain”, she added.

In Ghana, the government’s Youth in Agriculture Programme (YIAP) was established to increase employment opportunities and incomes, encourage entrepreneurship, and upscale food production.

With the average national farmer age at 55 years, the programme seeks to increase productivity in agricultural sector by tapping into the energy of the youth who compromise about 30percent of Ghana’s active population.

According to National Programme Coordinator, Alhaji Adam Mahama, the Ghanaian youth are interested in venturing agriculture but financial constraints remain major obstacle.

“My office, on daily basis, is filled with applications, proposals from youth, university graduates – both male and female – who are interested in going into agriculture but I’m constrained by funding”, he stated.

Alhaji Adam estimates that a minimum of Gh₵10,000 ($5,000) is needed to support a university graduate to be able to take off into full-time agriculture, but such funding is not readily available.

He however does not subscribe to the establishment of a fund by government to be accessed by the youth “because immediately government takes too much interest in funding such things, people don’t want to be independent”.

Hence, government should provide the farming inputs whilst the private sector is engaged in providing financial packages for such agricultural ventures, he opined.

“If a package is made in such a way that they take the money from the banks that they can use and pay back to the banks [and] account to the banks, then they’ll learn to be independent and good private sector”, noted Alhaji Adam.

Private sector agribusiness players believe the public-private partnerships are important to drive young people into agribusiness but this, they say, must be devoid of politics.

Prince Obeng Asante, Deputy Managing Director of Ghana Nuts Company, says concepts geared towards youth employment must move from a political platform to a pseudo-business organization for the private sector to buy into them.

“It should be partnership which is built on rock, not on sand which can easily be washed away when the political season comes to an end”, he observed.

Ghana Nuts is a leading agro processor, manufacturer and exporter of a gamut of edible oils, animal feed input materials and Shea Butter.

The company has been supporting the agricultural project under the National Service Scheme and recently received 4,000 bags of yellow maize from the NSS Wenchi Farm to produce feed for the local poultry industry.

The NSS project is making some inroads with an expected harvest in excess of eight metric tonnes of maize by end of 2012 from the combined 2,120 acres it is farming in five regions.

It is early days yet to ascertain what percentage of the young national service personnel engaged in the NSS agric project would opt for full-time ventures in farming or agribusiness at the end of their service.

But Prince Obeng says there is the need to critically show young people that agriculture could provide a dynamic and productive future for them.

Young people who see the profitability in agriculture will naturally move into the sector, he said.

“The cost of production vis-à-vis the revenue has been the major bottleneck; the guy is spending Gh₵1,000 per hectare and the revenue coming from it is Gh₵900, why do you think the youth will be there?” queried Prince. “But if today we say that you spend Gh₵1,000 but your revenue is Gh₵2,000, so the [profit] margin is Gh₵500, I tell you even the dead will resurrect and go into agriculture”.

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To set the agenda right, Cynthia Mosunmola Umoru, who is currently a Youth Consultant to the African Union Commission, has emphasized the direct engagement of the youth in agricultural policy formulation whilst providing avenues for the youth to access mentors and role models to success in agribusiness.

Already, youth in agriculture is one of the driving issues on which the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) focuses its work.

“Granted that there are a lot of countries benefiting from oil and natural resources, but most of the countries in Africa today are primarily agriculture-based communities, so when you think about the future of agriculture you should start with the source which is the young people of Africa”, said James Tefft, Senior Policy Officer, FAO Regional Office for Africa.

He wants the subject of young people in agriculture to be embedded within national policies in the implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).

He says investments in the agricultural sector should be about the people and integrating youth in agriculture is essential in addressing the demographic challenges.

“The policy framework in Ghana with respect to METASIP exists but we need to get into the specifics of how these partnerships between public and private actors actually take place… we need the young people, civil society [to be] engaged in the process. So to move forward, we need to move into the specific of the dialogues at very decentralized levels”, said James Tefft.

The Ghanaian government developed the Medium Term Agriculture Sector Investment Plan (METASIP) to implement the Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy (FASDEP II) over the medium term 2011-2015.

Whilst expecting agricultural policies to be youth-centered, there is the potential for women and young people to strategically plug into the sector by “unlocking their minds and view agriculture as a business; it is not just about farming and tilling the soil – there is processing, packaging, distribution, cold storage, marketing – the opportunities across its value chain is enormous”, said Cynthia Umoru.

Transforming mindsets are the core values of the AgroMindset Organisation, which is educating a new generation of entrepreneurial minded agriculturists in Ghana.

“Our idea is using the bottom-up approach to transform youthful thinking from fork (state of consumption) to field (state of activity and productivity), and so we seek to introduce the concept of agric entrepreneurship to young people right from childhood”, said Founding Director, David Asiamah.

The Organization seeks to erase negative perceptions about farming, showcasing that it can bring people great wealth and prosperity, through strategies like organising the Agro Summit and Agro Tourism events, embarking on outreaches, undertaking Green projects and promoting agribusiness, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“We have visited over 5000 young people in basic schools and our meetings attract interested students and industry experts to learn and share ideas at the same time churning them into entrepreneurs”, he said.

Without a clear policy strategy for engaging this rising group of rural youth, Africa’s leaders and the development partners that work with them risk creating an economic time bomb for their successors, warned David Asiamah.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

AGRA President sets out decisive actions for world food security, says ‘fine words do not produce food’

President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Jane Karuku, has set out three core decisive actions to be taken in order to drive forward world food security and feed future generations.   

These areas, she says, include building new, innovative public-private partnerships; ensuring international donors and African policymakers keep and fund their commitments; and listening to what farmers really want and need. 

Jane Karuku recently joined former U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Quinn at the World Food Prize Symposium in the United States to discuss the need for public-private partnerships and new commitments to fund agricultural development.

According to her, much of the progress in reducing global hunger announced by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization can be attributed to improvements in African agriculture.

“Globally, however, approximately 870 million people still suffer from hunger and chronic malnutrition.  So while we have made important headway, we cannot afford to lose momentum”, she added. 

She has observed the need to work creatively across sectors to rapidly expand African agricultural yields and improve global economic growth.

AGRA has been working to establish small risk-sharing loans with several commercial banks in order to leverage more affordable credit for farmers and agribusinesses, stated the AGRA President.

“Together with our financial partners, we have made a total of $17 million US dollars available to three commercial banks, which leveraged access to about $160 million US dollars in credit to farmers and African businesspeople on the ground. Our efforts demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach, which is now being taken up on a much larger scale by several African governments”, Jane said. 

She noted that the most successful partnerships are those in which everyone has put money on the table and is tangibly invested in a shared outcome.

“Whether we are working with private-sector agribusinesses, small farmers, governments, or international NGOs, we know that in order to succeed, we must share skills and resources to move African agriculture forward”.
 
In addition to building equitable partnerships, Jane Karuku said African governments and international donors must be held accountable to keep and fund their commitments.

“When the funds reach our fields, we must ensure they are invested across the full agricultural value chain – from better seeds and soils, to improved markets, more affordable financing and smarter policies.  We need to ensure balanced growth to transform subsistence farming into a viable commercial enterprise that will drive economic growth”, she demanded.

The AGRA President firmly believes that African farmers can lead the way to a stronger global economy, hence the need to listen to the voices of African farmers by delivering solutions that address the challenges and opportunities they face every day in the fields and marketplace. 

“At AGRA, we know that farmers are battling climate change.  Therefore the action we take should be focused on long-term sustainability.  AGRA and its partners promote “climate smart” agriculture. Rebuilding soil health and enabling Africa's smallholders to grow more on less land will reduce the pressure to clear and cultivate forests and savannahs, thus helping conserve biodiversity and the environment” emphasized Jane Karuku.

Whilst calling for application of global best practices to dramatically increase yields, Jane said it is most important to demonstrate to young people that there is a strong financial future in farming.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Rural Ghanaian women rally to voice their development needs

Over one thousand women from across Ghana converged at Amasaman in the Ga-West Municipal Assembly of Accra to voice their development needs to government and other partners.

Representatives of rural women participating in the national rural women’s rally raised issues concerning their non-involvement in policy formulation, challenges with land tenure and irrigation for farming as well as access to machinery to add value to produce.

The women also voiced the adverse effects of chemical application in farm land preparation on food crops and the pollution of water bodies through the activities of illegal mining.

Women’s Leader, Lydia Sasu told Luv Fm the involvement of women in all aspects of national socio-political and economic activities is crucial to sustainable development.

According to her, giving a voice to the rural woman is important because “women produce 70-80 percent of the food crops in Ghana in small-scale” and their empowerment will culminate in the much desired positive change.

The World Rural Women’s Day was instituted in 2008 to be commemorated a day ahead of World Food Day in recognition of the multiple role women play in local communities.

The national event was put together by the Development Action Association (DAA) and Farmers Organization Network in Ghana (FONG) in collaboration with UN Women, with the intent of allowing “rural women to speak for themselves”.

The day was celebrated under the theme “Empowerment and the role of rural women in poverty and hunger eradication”.

Madam Lydia is hopeful commitments made by interest groups at the rally to empower rural women will begin to yield positive fruits from 2013.

One of the event sponsors, Yara Ghana, noted that the development of the rural economy demands strategic linkages for rural women to deliver multiple dividends, including poverty reduction, increased food production and decreased child malnutrition.

Henry Otoo-Mensah, Retail Sales Manager of the leading mineral fertilizer distribution company, observed that rural women and girls face several constraints that limit their social and economic opportunities and consequently hinder poverty reduction and development.

He stated that one of Yara’s major objectives for doing business in Africa is to use its huge knowledge in fertilizer and food production to help reduce poverty in women and the more marginalized communities.

“As you know women bear a disproportionate share of the burden of being poor; they are obliged to spend a great deal of time not only working in family enterprises but also in nurturing and rearing children. Small-scale farmers in Ghana's poor rural areas especially women have very limited access to the assets, skills and improved technology that would facilitate a shift from subsistence farming to modern, commercial agriculture”, noted Mr. Otoo-Mensah.

According to him, Yara has committed itself to empowering the rural woman through the provision of crop production skills and the appropriate plant nutritional packages to enable the women realize higher yields in their farming activities.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

World Food Day 2012 focuses on agricultural cooperatives


This year’s World Food Day celebration is highlighting the concrete ways in which agricultural cooperatives and producer organizations help to provide food security, generate employment, and reduce poverty.

The theme for the October 16 event is “Agricultural cooperatives: key to feeding the world”.

The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) is paying special tribute to cooperatives for working against hunger and overcoming market and policy constraints by providing their members access to a range of assets and services.

In Ghana, producer groups, cooperatives, farmer organizations as well as agricultural partners are commemorating the day in the Central region.

FAO-Ghana Country Representative, Musa Saihou Mbenga, in a statement observed that the structure of the Ghanaian agricultural system is changing rapidly, hence the need for independent producers to vertically coordinate their production through the agricultural system to maximise returns.

“Cooperatives comprise an important and growing part of this changing agricultural industry. Due to the singularity of member owned-member managed, cooperatives have the ability to solve various market problems facing the agricultural producers”, he said.

The World Food Day has the objectives of encouraging attention to agricultural food production and to stimulate national, bilateral, multilateral and non-governmental efforts to this end; encourage economic and technical cooperation among developing countries; and encourage the participation of rural people, particularly women and the least privileged categories, in decisions and activities influencing their living conditions.
 
It is also a day to heighten public awareness of the problem of hunger in the world; promote the transfer of technologies to the developing world; and strengthen international and national solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty and draw attention to achievements in food and agricultural development.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Monday, October 15, 2012

MasterCard Foundation impacts on Ghanaian farmers and students


Some Ghanaian cocoa farmers are recording improved crop yields and incomes by 160 percent under an agricultural finance pilot to expand access to savings services in rural areas.

Working in partnership with Opportunity International, the MasterCard Foundation has provided 23,000 agricultural loans to over one million depositors and borrowers within the past four years.

The $8 million dollar “Financial Services for Rural Communities and Smallholder Farmers in Africa” Program is being implemented in Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, and Uganda.

President and CEO of MasterCard Foundation, Reeta Roy, has observed that the innovative model has allowed high returns for farmers in Ghana.

“A very important part of the project is to help farmers not only to have access to savings but to have access to extension services, fertilizer [and] planting techniques so that they can increase the yield of their crops and they can be plugged into the value chain so there is market access for their crops”, she told Luv Biz Report in an interview.

Farmers in 33 districts and six regions of Ghana are presently accessing the agricultural financing scheme.

According to Reeta, the farmers’ savings are used to expand farms and diversify to new crops whilst financing their children’s education.

The Foundation also partners HFC Bank to better serve the financial needs of young people with focus on financial literacy, planning, budgeting and savings.

The Toronto-based MasterCard Foundation was established in 2006 to advance microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity.

Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 developing countries, the Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper.

Over $600 million have so far been committed to a range of projects – with almost 70 percent of the investments in 22 African countries.


Recently, the $500 million MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program was launched to empower 15,000 young underprivileged Africans with the requisite educational skills to participate in a competitive global economy.

The comprehensive educational support approach involves the provision of scholarship to cover tuition, boarding, books and pocket money as well as mentorship and internship opportunities for beneficiaries.

According to Reeta Roy, one of the unique objectives of the project is to profile high achieving young people who would thrive in a learning environment.

“We are also looking for young people who already have some of the characteristics of leadership and the ability and desire to do something with their lives and give back to community”, she noted.

In Ghana, the Foundation has a ten-year $13million partnership with Ashesi University to provide tertiary education to over 200 young people.

Another project with the NGO, Campaign for Female Education (CAMFED), looks at girl education at the secondary and post-secondary levels – focusing on rural girls with disadvantaged background to complete Senior High School and others to access financial literacy for gainful employment.

Reeta Roy has emphasized that the Scholars Program provides employability skills that lead to job creation.

“I hope that this programme sends a signal not only to young people who have higher aspirations, but it also becomes something which other donors, other organizations which are doing scholarships will also be inspired and continue to put those resources towards enabling access to quality education for young people” she said.

Listen to audio file: 

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Friday, October 12, 2012

Bio-lab scientists drum home speedy passage of Regulatory Bill

Ghana needs revised regulatory framework for health professionals in order to safeguard public health and meet international best practices, says the President of the Ghana Association Biomedical Laboratory Scientists (GABMLS).

Prince Sodoke Amuzu is therefore advocating the speedy passage of the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Bill, which would regulate the training and practice of allied health professions in the country when passed into law.

He was reacting to calls by Deputy Health Minister, Rojo Mettle-Nunoo, for members of the Association to take solace in the passage of other health-related bills.

Addressing the Annual National Congress of the GABMLS, holding in Kumasi, Mr. Mettle-Nunoo enjoined members of the Association to celebrate and congratulate parliament for passing “very strategic and critical bills for the health sector”, including the Mental Health Bill, Professional Institutions Bill and the Public Health Bill.
 
Prince Amuzu however says quackery in the allied health professions remains a major obstacle to quality health delivery.

“The particular legislation that can take away quackery has not been passed”, he told Luv Fm. “The regulation about bio-safety, public [and] mental health are all nice regulations that are useful for our healthcare system; but the professional that performs the duty is not regulated and those that are even regulated – Medical and Dental, Pharmacy and Nursing – their regulation is not competent because the laws are old and need review”.

According to Prince Amuzu, the challenges with the existing laws regulating the health services are addressed in the Health Professions Regulatory Bodies Bill.

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The GABS scientific forum is discussing prevailing public health issues in the country, including new operating procedures, initiatives and standards of work.

The theme for the three-day Congress is “Strengthening Medical Laboratory Services and Systems in Ghana: Key in Promoting Quality Healthcare Delivery”.

Vice-President, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, in a speech read for him, acknowledged that availability and access to quality laboratory services are among major challenges contributing to delayed or inappropriate responses to epidemics, disease control and patient management.

He therefore identified the “need for a comprehensive national laboratory policy which will focus on laboratory organization, structure and coordination. Such a policy should provide a guide for staff training, motivation and retention, the integration of services and standards for the provision and maintenance of essential facilities and equipment”.

President of the International Federation of Biomedical Laboratory Science, Professor Vincent Gallicchio is among reputable local and international speakers attending the Congress.

For him, there exists deficiency in the overall health system “without having properly structured, accredited and credential personnel, laboratory professionals as well as the hospitals [and] educational programmes to train them”.

Biomedical Laboratory Scientists are entrusted with the onerous assignment of providing quality diagnosis that is at the centre of treatment and management of diseases.

Story by Kofi Adu Domfeh

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Youth for agric production or value chains?



videoThe drive to strengthen agricultural value chains was strongly upheld at he recently held 2nd African Green Revolution Forum in Arusha, Tanzania.

Most discussions touted the value chains as viable option to engage young people in agriculture.

According to Mr. Kofi Annan, Chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), there are opportunities for Africa to benefit from innovations in agriculture and information and communication technologies and for him, these new technologies appeal to the younger generation and give them opportunities to play a greater part in the agricultural revolution.

He added that it is this new generation of Africans – male and female – with their energy and entrepreneurial spirit that needs to contribute to create a sustained transformation.

But there are other concerns of how to replace the ageing farming population with energetic youth.

Kofi Adu Domfeh posed the question to Jane Karuku, President of AGRA, who says agriculture must first be seen to be profitable to attract the youth.

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