The Sunyani Youth Development Association, in collaboration with the Centre for Plant Medicine Research, has introduced the Planting for Medicine and Jobs (PfMJs) Project to reduce unemployment and create wealth in the country.
The project aims at mobilising the youth to cultivate medicinal plants to feed the plant medicine industry under the Ghana Health Service and for export.
This was announced at the second edition of the Sunyani Youth Development Association (SYDA) Annual Youth Employment Forum to explore opportunities to address unemployment issues.
This year’s forum identified other possibilities of income generation in the agricultural sector, hence the PfMJs initiative to augment the Government’s “Youth in Innovative Agriculture” programme.
Initially 47 interested persons (unemployed young men and women) among the participants registered for the project.
Dr Kofi Bobi Barimah, the Acting Executive Director of the Centre for Plant Medicine Research, who was the Special Guest, said cultivation of medicinal plants was a lucrative business with enormous potentials not only to create jobs but to boost foreign exchange earnings for economic growth.
He said more than 55 major hospitals in Ghana, including the Sunyani Regional Hospital, had herbal medicine on their prescription list now, hence the Government was considering putting recommended herbal medicines on the National Health Insurance Scheme.
Dr Barimah said the cultivation of medicinal plants created employment within the value-chain and, therefore, implored the youth, regardless of their educational background, to consider jobs in that area.
Mr Atta Akoto Senior, the President of the SYDA, in a welcoming address, said the Association believed harnessing the full benefits of herbal medicine would boost Ghana’s healthcare delivery system.
“Hence, it is inappropriate for us, as a country and as herbal medicine practitioners, to rely on default plantation of shrubs through nature’s own means,” he said.
That, he explained, was because of its unsustainability on the basis of continuous dwindling of natural vegetation cover through environmental and forest degradation through bush burning, unconventional/inappropriate farming practices, and illegal timber operations.
Mr Akoto expressed the hope that consciously planting herbs with medicinal qualities would open a lot of employment opportunities for the youth to sustain livelihoods.
He appealed to the Bono Regional Coordinating Council and the Sunyani Municipal Assembly to support the PfMJs with financial, logistics and technical assistance to ensure its success.