The Sunyani Youth Development Association, in collaboration with the Center for Plant Medicine Research, launched the Planting for Medicine and Jobs (PfMJs) project to reduce unemployment and create wealth in the country.
The project aims to mobilize young people to cultivate medicinal plants to fuel the plant medicine industry under the Ghana Health Service and for export.
This was announced during the second annual Youth Employment Forum of the Sunyani Youth Development Association (SYDA) to explore possibilities to address unemployment issues.
This year’s forum identified further opportunities for income generation in the agricultural sector, hence the PfMJ’s initiative to scale up the government’s ‘Youth in Innovative Agriculture’ programme.
Initially, 47 interested people (young unemployed men and women) among the participants signed up for the project.
Dr. Kofi Bobi Barimah, Acting Executive Director of the Plant Medicine Research Center, who was the special guest, said that the cultivation of medicinal plants was a lucrative business with enormous potential not only to create jobs, but also to increase foreign exchange earnings for economic growth.
He said more than 55 major hospitals in Ghana including Sunyani Regional Hospital now had herbal medicines on their prescription list hence the government was considering putting the herbal medicines recommended in the national health insurance scheme.
Dr. Barimah said that the cultivation of medicinal plants creates jobs within the value chain and therefore implored young people, regardless of their level of education, to consider jobs in this field.
Mr. Atta Akoto Senior, the President of SYDA, in a welcoming address, said that the Association is confident that harnessing the full benefits of herbal medicine would boost Ghana’s healthcare delivery system.
“Therefore, it is inappropriate for us as a country and as practitioners of herbal medicine to rely on the default planting of shrubs by nature’s own means,” he said.
This, he explained, was due to its unsustainability based on the continued decline in natural vegetation cover due to environmental and forest degradation through bush burning, unconventional agricultural practices /inappropriate and illegal logging.
Mr. Akoto expressed hope that the conscious planting of herbs with medicinal qualities would open up many job opportunities for young people to sustain their livelihoods.
He called on the Bono Regional Coordinating Council and the Sunyani Municipal Assembly to support the PfMJ with financial, logistical and technical assistance to ensure its success.