Over the years, agricultural activities in Ghana and many parts of Africa were largely limited to subsistence farming. In recent times, however, the focus has shifted to agribusiness. The development of agribusiness has not only added impetus to the food value chain, but has also become a viable strategy in addressing the socio-economic challenges of society.
What is Agribusiness?
It is not far-fetched to decipher the meaning of the term agribusiness from the layman’s perspective. As can be inferred from the name of the term, it is a combination of two words: “agriculture” and “business” and that gives an idea of a business-oriented farming activity. Agribusiness involves the market-worthiness of farm produce, its processing, and strategic distribution to consumers.
Agribusiness encompasses the use of any arable land for farming-related commercial activities such as animal breeding, crops husbandry, api-culture (bee-keeping), mushroom farming, and all aspects involving the agriculture value chain. Depending on the resources available and the context in which the project is carried out, the methodologies of doing agribusiness can be varied but sophisticated. That said, there are also simple ways by which farmers can start their agribusiness without depending on huge investments or delving into such complexities.
The agribusiness industry is relevant to every local context in such a way that one can start as a small-scale, medium-scale or large-scale activity, depending on availability of resources and other related factors. The technology to use, the method of processing and distribution of the produce may depend on the category of agribusiness chosen by the farmer and the type of farming system involved in his activities.
The Economic Significance of Agribusiness
There is no doubt that humankind needs food to survive and that alone is a fundamental reason to go into agribusiness. Barring fasting and prayers, the religious person must feed on the produce of farmers to recoup energy to embark on his duties. All living organisms depend on food to survive, many of which contain agriculture produce from farmers.
Although some agribusiness industries also process agricultural products such as timber, which may not be part of edible farm produce, they are still important components of the agribusiness sector. Profit maximisation, conservation, and sustainability of the food value chain, with their benefit to the socio-economic development of society, are fundamental to the agribusiness venture.
Poverty reduction is very crucial in the economic significance of agribusiness as long as many in the developing world still live on farming. The agribusiness industry has the potential to create jobs in the private sector because of its inherent complexity and comprehensive farming activities. From production, processing, to distribution of farm produce to the market, the farmer needs more labour to accomplish his aim.
Since increasing unemployment is a societal issue, the church being no exception, agribusiness is a strategic venture that faith-based organisations like the church can explore to stabilise the economic challenges of its members. The church (the wider Christian community) by its calling has a dual purpose – service to God and service to humankind. This does not necessarily mean that the church should make the establishment of agribusinesses its major practice. That notwithstanding, the church, by its diverse resources, is strategically positioned to provide the needed technical support on agribusiness so that interested members or the larger society can leverage on the opportunities created for their agribusinesses.
Why is Agribusiness Necessary for the Pentecost Men’s Ministry (PEMEM)?
The agribusiness system forms part of the social intervention activities of the Ministry as its commitment to the general vision of the Church. The Church of Pentecost, through its five-year vision known as Vision 2023, has committed itself to various kinds of social intervention and community development programmes meant to address the socio-economic challenges faced by society. The Vision states, in part, that “The Church is instrumental in fostering growth and transformational development of every nation. Over the years, The Church of Pentecost has been instrumental in promoting growth and sustainable development in Ghana” (2018:29).
PEMEM, as a special ministry of the church, is committed to promoting the social transformation agenda of the Church’s vision coupled with the need to address the socio-economic challenges of the church’s members, particularly men in the church. Arguably, it would be unpleasant for a “hungry woman to submit (as indicated in Eph. 5:22) to an ‘irresponsible’ husband” – a general homily during marriage seminars.
When there is severe hunger in the household, the whole family becomes devasted, and frustrated and that is why empowering men in agribusiness skills as critical agents for tackling hunger and poverty is vital. The empowerment of men in the agribusiness sector is a prerequisite for the economic transformation agenda of society.
To compliment The Church of Pentecost’s agenda on possessing the nations, as indicated in the Vision 2023, the Men’s Ministry identifies agribusiness as a strategic place. The Ministry takes into account the numerous members of the Church who depend on subsistence farming as their major source of livelihood most of whom are men. Thus, any hindrance to the economic viability of men would have far-reaching consequences on the development of the family. It is with this in mind that PEMEM takes keen interest in promoting agribusiness among its members as a game-changer in the agricultural industry and the general management of the economy our various families and communities.
Models of PEMEM Agribusiness
There are two models of PEMEM agribusiness outlined in the strategic plan of the ministry.
Model Farm Concept
For people to experience the possibility of having agribusiness in our Ghanaian context, the Men’s Ministry encourages the establishment of model farms with a high sense of technical support and grassroots participation. The PEMEM model of agribusiness will provide the average farmer with modern skills to increase food productivity while taking into account sustainable marketing of farm produce. The Ministry has identified activities like livestock production, aquaculture, api-culture, and crops farming as pivotal to economic growth of society.
Integrated Agribusiness Village
The Ministry has no intention to embark on large-scale commercial agribusiness activities, but a small-scale system, or model farms or demonstration farms for others to emulate the standard way of agribusiness systems available. The proposed integrated agribusiness includes a number of agricultural productivities taking place in a piece of land at the same time. In a technical sense, the integrated agribusiness model consists of very complex factors like soil management and fertility, crop and animal husbandry, and marketing of agricultural productivity, among others.
However, the PEMEM model of integrated agribusiness takes a slightly different approach. For example, in a land of about three acres, the Ministry suggests livestock, crops, aquaculture, and all forms of agriculture activities sited on the land. The targeted groups by the Ministry are individuals, districts, areas, and ministries of the Church which are financially and technically capable and may be willing to establish and manage these systems of agribusiness whose success stories others can experience and adopt. The idea is to use it as an educative model and transformative agenda in the agribusiness sector for those who may be interested in agribusiness but skeptical about its success and sustainability.
It is worth noting that the Men’s Ministry sees agribusiness as a strategic activity to economically empower women, be it small, medium or large scale. The four-year strategic plan of the Men’s Ministry focuses on the holistic development and prudent economic management of the home and society at large. To achieve this goal, the Ministry considers women’s engagement in the agribusiness sector not only as a crucial for the home, but also as a game-changer in our quest for socio-economic improvement of society.
Women can venture into all kinds of agribusiness models. For example, the small-scale agribusiness model could even be established at homes that have spaces to accommodate farms such as grasscutter, rabbits, poultry, piggery, goats, vegetables, and fish farm. These are small scale, but can contribute to the food value chain and can be of immense support to the family.
Man as the Head of the Family
As heads of the family, it is men’s responsibility to improve the livelihood of their homes. Engaging them with all the technical support and the necessary skills to embark on agribusiness is very important for social development of families, communities, and humanity in general. This is against the backdrop of one of the Ministry’s Akan songs with its English translation below:
I am a man, it’s my responsibility to build a prosperous home, because
When the home prospers, the church will prosper
When the church prospers, the nation will prosper, and
When the nation prospers, everything will successful.
This song underlies the philosophy of the Men’s Ministry, which is to build a solid home being fully aware that, the home is the basic unit of society. Once the home is well organised, peaceful, and prosperous, it will have a positive impact on the socio-economic development of society.
To accomplish the mandate stated in the song, it requires the holistic development of men and that is why the Ministry has rolled out four thematic areas in its strategic plan: spiritual, physical, sociological, and psychological development of men.
The Ministry’s agribusiness, therefore, falls within the context of sociological development of men. It is part of its social intervention activities, which gives an idea that any transformative impact felt by society must first be experienced at home.
Curbing Rural-Urban Migration
Today, it has become a general phenomenon where people consistently migrate from the rural communities to urban centres for ‘non-existent’ greener pastures, but there is the need to take a positive action that can reverse this trend. Thus, the promotion of agribusiness at all levels of society is not only to address the world’s basic need of food, but to also foster stability of the movement of people in terms of rural-urban migration. Owing to lack of jobs in rural areas, it is becoming a general practice for young people to migrate to urban centres for non-existent greener pastures.
The phenomenon of massive rural-urban migration poses real challenges to mission activities of the church. Should it continue, it is not only some rural churches or parishes that may face a sharp decline in their membership in the near future, resources pumped into missionary work and infrastructural development may struggle to be sustained.
The large following of the churches in the rural communities should therefore help them see the proposed model of agribusiness initiated by PEMEM as a way out of poverty and perennial rural-urban drifts and an opportunity to embrace economic development.
Poverty is a threat to the growth of the church to which agribusiness is an antidote and must be embraced by all. It is believed that promoting agribusiness among the faith-based organisations is a basis of economic transformation of society. When agribusiness gains momentum among men, particularly the models being promoted by PEMEM, there will be a colossal positive impact on families and society as a whole.
The full participation of men in agribusiness is required in improving the food value chain and economically empower them to take responsible positions in society. Agribusiness is a crucial aspect of productive farming system that must be embraced by all. May the golden chance to seriously address their situation not elude them.
Vincent Anane Denteh (Apostle)