INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER OF AGRO-MINDSET
DAVID ASARE ASIAMAH is the founder of the Agro-Mindset Fraternity. He guides the Agro-Mindset Organisation with his switched on strategic vision, values, and fresh approach to engaging the youth in agriculture. He has and continues to empower a new generation of Ghana’s youth to take advantage of the numerous opportunities that agriculture presents Ghana to transform herself. He is super-passionate about this transformation and he’s actively in the front lines showing, doing and showing how. He is very committed to working on the Agro-Mindset vision to help lift Ghana’s agrarian economy to prominence and is championing the cause of a new green revolution which involves getting people to practice their knowledge in agriculture to satisfy industry requirements. He is currently anticipating Master of Science (Agriculture and Development) from the University of Reading, England. He has a Bachelor of Science (Hons) (Agriculture) Degree and specialised in Agric Mechanisation, from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. In this interview, he takes us through a tour of the Agro-Mindset world.
Agro-Mindset- What is it about?
Agro Mindset is about building a new “Green Revolution” for young and educated people to venture into agric entrepreneurship as a form of decent employment opportunity, while providing for them the necessary support to succeed towards fulfilling career requirements and industry expectation. Two big problems in Africa now are food insecurity and a booming youth population facing daunting employment prospects which can be shot with the agriculture double-barrelled gun because of contribution to GDP in agrarian countries. Our “Green Revolution” focuses exclusively on educating the youth on the prospects of agriculture, encouraging students to pursue agriculture related programmes in higher academia as we mount this campaign in the agriculture industry. We focus on breaking stereotypes and awakening young people to an industry that is exciting, dynamic and vital to the future of the planet as we establish global, sustainable platforms to create a sustainable positive change. We also train farmers and other agribusiness organisations with the aim of increasing productivity and meeting the high environmental requirements and Good Agriculture Practices (GAP) currently being enforced globally. We as well train farmers in the aspect of ‘’FARMING AS A BUSINESS’’, aiming to change people’s attitudes and perception towards embracing agriculture as an important source of income and nutritional enrichment.
How was the whole Agro-Mindset idea conceived?
I had a dream in 2009 as I slept in my sister’s house at East Legon, Ghana. In the dream I was on a bus to Tamale. On the bus, I arose and drew the attention of passengers on how we had neglected agriculture. I held Government, Policy makers, Parents, Teachers, Cooperate institutions and young people themselves responsible for this. The dream ended as I provided a way forward to Ghana’s salvation. I woke up and wrote everything on paper and began to pursue it. Till now, it’s like a calling to me. People say, “Love what you do and do what you love”, but when your passion becomes your career, it stops being simple. You have to face the realities.
What do you want to achieve with this Agromindset project
Our green revolution! An agricultural renaissance!
How relevant is Agromindset and its vision to the development of Ghana, Africa and the world at large.
Although there is an increasing urbanisation, most of the poor people in developing countries live in rural areas and, mainly, they depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture thus remains vital for sustainable development, poverty reduction and food security. However, interest in agriculture in general is low among the general populace and worst with young generation. They shun agriculture in their ambition to pursuing careers in agriculture. Despite the fact that agriculture is likely to remain a key sector for young people in much of Ghana, it has an image problem. The Ghanaian society generally has a negative perception of agriculture; which is detrimental to the sustainability of the sector, hence a need for appropriate and timely intervention in order to cause the youth to believe in the vast prospects of the sector and to ensure that the agricultural sector becomes more productive and sustainable. This is much more important now than ever given that Ghana’s food security, as well as its equitable economic transformation, depend on it. This problem is not only significant to Ghana but other agrarian economies as well. Agriculture is in danger because young people who are the future of agriculture do not want to be involved in it. African countries therefore need to develop policies to motivate young people to go into agriculture to sustain the sector and, at the same time solve the problem of youth unemployment. The Agro-Mindset Organisation seeks to stir up urgency in the area of agriculture in the youth of Africa; poise them about its impact, the benefits thereof and how they can practice building it every day of their lives. This will have an impact on people’s lives and subsequently contributing to food security and help us see a better brighter Africa and preserve the hopes of tomorrow.
Do you receive support from any agency?
Not at the moment.
How beneficial can Agromindset, its vision and it projects be the young Ghanaian?
It is evident that prioritizing agricultural development would yield significant, interconnected benefits, particularly in achieving food security and reducing hunger; increasing incomes and reducing poverty; advancing the human development agenda in health and education; and reversing environmental damage. Employment opportunities cannot be overlooked. I say the terrorists of Africa are not the Bin Laden’s but the people’s mindset. We need an mind overhaul to be fit for exploiting opportunities that nature presents.
Have you chalked any successes so far?
Every day is success to us as we ‘till’ more mindsets and awaken people to a career that is more exciting if only people pay attention. The launch of the organisation is an example which got the GREAT Hall of KNUST filled up. Our maiden Tourism project which involved sending Ghanaian students to tap into the global wealth agric knowledge was a breath-taking moment for us.
What has been your major setback?
We face challenges but to us, it’s a learning process as we assume uncertainties. Another setback is the fact that I am not in Ghana. I wish I was home helping the team to speed up our work because we don’t have time.
Do you have any plans of working with or having some form of collaboration with the government of Ghana and other African countries?
For the nature of our work, it is needful to collaborate with high level institutions, industries, and commercial and government entities to help in capacity-building. They have the power and could institute policies to favour our course. This project is one that has been carefully thought out as being among a series of advocacy programs aimed at lifting agriculture in Ghana and the Diaspora to prominence. Politicians need pressure to work.
Where do you see Agro-Mindset in the next five and ten years?
We will be in the farming business and committed to Ghana’s agriculture. Agro-Mindset could be a common name in Ghanaian households and academic institutions. We will be adding value to every possible way of seeking innovation. We would have acquires vast lands and begun our vision of becoming a world class pan-African university, educating a new generation of entrepreneurial minded agriculturalists in Africa; to nurturing within our students the critical reasoning and problem solving skills and the interest to take up the vast opportunities in agrarian countries in the continent.
Finally, is agriculture really the future and saviour of the world?
Generally, in the initial stages of a nation’s development, agriculture forms the basis for pulling the nation out of poverty and in attaining appreciable economic growth. This includes provision of raw materials, foreign exchange, and a market for the local agricultural industry. Reckon how many countries are still developing? Key issues are right policies that promote investment in physical infrastructure, smallholder farmers, existing stock of knowledge and technical improvement to deliver wealth. The World Bank has it that by 2050, there will be 9billion people in the world. How do we feed the growing population; by miracle? We can’t neglect farming because it will lead to demand exceeding supply (scarcity) which necessitates importation, volume of which depends on the demand. This trend invariably results in hikes in food prices which have been evidenced in most developing countries until recently. There will then be more poor people with Africa and Asia facing this effect most. On the other hand, however, as countries become richer, challenges faced generally include the ability to balance demand and supply, as well as maintaining biodiversity, climate change and ecosystems services as mankind cultivates the land.
If the world’s agriculture fails, we imperil our future. Food is the most burning problem on the planet, and it will get worse unless the affluent nations find some way to help those nations who need it. I cannot imagine that over time, the rest of the world is going to grow enough food to solve the problem of the poorer nations, provide employment, fibre and fuel for energy and industries etc.