According to the 2014 Ghana Living Standards Survey, 32% of the country’s 9 million youth population is unemployed. In the Northern Region, Ghana’s poorest and the area where Urbanet works, unemployment among young people aged 15-24 is thought to be 49%. High illiteracy rates (22%), low educational attainment (61% end their education at Junior High School), inadequate employability skills, lack of experience and lack of access to training opportunities force youth to migrate to the South in search of livelihoods opportunities. Agriculture, Ghana’s largest industrial sector, employs 42% of the economically active population aged 15 and over and is one of the few available sources of income in the Northern Region. Representing almost 30% of the country’s entire landmass, the Northern Region produces the bulk of the nation’s cereals and legumes. Yields, however, remain low due to the use of low-quality seeds. Government promotion has seen demand for high quality, high potency seeds increase substantially but supply remains limited due to a number of reasons, including inadequate numbers of certified seed growers, lack of distribution outlets, poor packaging, and branding practices, etc. While a small number of significant international donors focusing on agriculture operate in Ghana (the N2Africa project that Urbanet is one of the implementing partners is funded by the Gates Foundation) they do not have youth-focused projects and tend to prefer partners with a larger absorptive capacity than organizations of Urbanet’s size.
Urbanet is a network of small scale farmer organizations which promotes sustainable agronomic practices as a means to ensuring food security, sustainable and productive livelihoods and healthy environments. It was formally established in 2005 and it mainly works to strengthen the capacity of communities and especially the youth to access livelihood opportunities in agriculture. Urbanet’s Youth Empowerment and Skills Development Program trains youth in shea-butter, soymilk, and rice processing, as well as in animal rearing, and provides them with support to set up their own businesses or form cooperatives within a range of value chains. Over the years, Urbanet has successfully established and sustained a micro-credit scheme with a current total client base of 1000 (a majority of women engaged in agro-processing) and 100% recovery rate. EMpower’s first grant to Urbanet supported 70 young women and 10 young men to secure livelihood opportunities in the shea-butter value chain, develop their financial literacy, business management, and skills while at the same time increase their knowledge of sexual health issues and strengthen their capacity to address gender-based violence. Rashid Zakaria, Urbanet’s founding Director, has a BA in Integrated Development Studies and an MBA. He has over 10 years’ experience in food and nutrition security as well as youth development.
EMpower’s 4th grant to Urban Agriculture Network will support the training of 40 young women and men as certified seed producers and retailers and the training of 100 young women and men (including the 40) as Village-Based Agriculture Advisors. This means that the young people who graduate from the program will be able to provide farmers with certified seeds as well as agricultural extension services (advice; technical expertise and transfer; knowledge management, etc).
Primary Location: Tamale
Funded Since: 2015
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