In one of my previous articles, I mentioned the need to motivate Ghana’s youth to indulge in agriculture. Today I present to you a young Ghanaian who despite all the odds has made a strong impact in the agricultural sector in Ghana and Africa. Alfred Godwin Adjabeng, who was invited to speak at the youth agribusiness, leadership, and entrepreneurship summit on innovation by Global Youth Innovation Network in Dakar, Senegal, is a testimony to the great work that a passionate young Ghanaian has established, and is making remarkable strides.
Alfred Godwin Adjabeng is a trained Environmental Scientist from the University of Cape Coast and heads Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement (ROFLM), a community-development-based organization that is responsible for ensuring that young people are educated, empowered and engaged for local development. School Farms Programs is their flagship project, a project that is empowering rural schools in Ghana to be food sufficient by creating community driven farms in order to grow what they eat. He is passionate about Social Entrepreneurship, Public Policy, and Environmental Conservation and implores innovation, creativity, collaboration and social inclusion as sustainable tools to solving communities’ challenges. Alfred, in 2012, was Volta Regional focal person for the development of the National Youth Manifesto and was a member of the inputs documentation and coordinating Taskforce of the National Youth Manifesto. Alfred, for his National Service, works with the development challenge and public policy-focused Think Tank under the office of the President of Ghana, where he is responsible for researching on Ghana’s socio-economic challenges and developing public policies to address these challenges. In June 2015, Alfred was awarded Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders by President Obama and in 2014. He was among 23 young Africans awarded SETAfrica 2014 Fellowship by Makerere University Business School for their contributions to advancing Social Entrepreneurship in Africa.
What was your inspiration for starting Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement (ROFLM) and how long has it been in existence?
Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement was inaugurated on the 24th of January, 2010. We are 6 years old. I started ROFLM after my Senior High education. A favorite quote of mine by Malcolm X says, “The future belongs to those who prepare for it today.”
Leaders are born in crises. I have been a student of Life and it has thought me to know that, if you want to change a situation in your community, you have to take action. The call to purpose has been what inspired the leadership and the establishment of Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement, an organization that seeks to create a space for the participation of young people in the development of their communities.
What are the projects that you have carried out and their impact on the lives of people?
We currently run our School Farms Program, a community-based school feeding support program that empowers local community schools to grow their own food whilst creating a space to help students gain practical skills and explore opportunities in Agriculture.
Please tell us more about School Farms Program.
School Farms Program is a rural community-based school feeding support program that empowers local community schools to grow their own food whilst creating a space to help students gain practical skills and explore opportunities in Agriculture. Rather than relying on only government’s subvention like school feeding grants, the School Farms Program partners with local schools and local institutions (Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ghana Education Service, Nutrition Office and the Traditional leadership) to develop community-driven farms that ensures consistent food supply to keep schools open throughout the school year and provide nutritious meals. It also offers experiential learning and technical training opportunities for young people in these schools. The program’s main objectives are to reduce the feeding budget of the schools we work with, increase the nutritional value of the food served to students and equip students with practical agriculture skills for food security.
Why did you decide to go into Agriculture and not any other venture?
Agriculture for Food Security is our goal. Sustainable Agriculture is safe, clean and that which grows the earth and puts food on our table. With increasing global food security rate, the only way to secure food security in future is training our future leaders to feed the future.
How do you see the future of Agriculture in Ghana?
It is unfortunate Ghana in 2015 saw a depreciation in Agriculture. We have to work hard and invest more in Smallholder farmers because it has proved to feed the nation over the years. We must reprioritize our national focus in the large-scale capital-intensive production. Let’s feed our future now. The Government must invest in scientific research to increase our production or output.
Do you work alone or in a team?
We are a 13-member team with over 50 standby volunteers. Fegurson Agbehia, Richard Glalah, Bless Vienku, Shelby Appiah, Roger Goka, Linda Madjitey, Edem Faith Kanyagui, Binta Diallo, Binta Balde, Samuel Atteh, Samuel Obeng and Josephine Agbeko. They are responsible for the day-to-day running of our organization.
What challenges have you faced in your ROFLM journey and how did you overcome those obstacles?
Just like any startup in Ghana, we had our shared challenges, human resource-related to capital resources. All these were overcome through collaboration and the strong desire to serve and persevere.
What advice will you give young people who are also working to establish their organizations?
The experience is worth it. Never give up.
Thank you, Alfred. To all our young readers, this passionate young man has the vision of ensuring that no child studies on a hungry stomach. We hope that he inspires you with his story.
Interview By: Jacob K. Amengor, threesixtyGh Writer