Esther Ocloo was just wondering how she would find the money to fulfill her latest dream - persuading more African young people to pursue farming - when the money came in an unexpected way. She had just written a proposal to get a grant when she learned she had been awarded one already - for $50,000. The money is of a $100,000 grant awarded this fall by the Hunger Project to her and General Olusegun Obasanjo, former head of state in Nigeria, for their leadership in working to end hunger in Africa.
Dr. Ocloo says she had been concerned about the number of African young people not going on to universities, and who are spurning agricultural employment. Too many, she says, head for the cities where they are often unable to find jobs. To make the pursuit of farming easier for them, she drew up a plan by which several young people would be paid during a nine-month period while planting seed and working the land. At harvest time they would market the crops cooperatively, somewhat like an Israeli kibbutz, and invest part of the profit for the up-front costs of the following year's crop.
Mrs. Ocloo says she wants to work through the churches in Ghana to find the ``right types'' of young people for the best results. ``To get them to go into farming, I had to make it easy for them,'' she explains. ``If the idea works - and it will - I can promote it throughout Africa because the same problem exists everywhere. If Africa is going to make it, it has to be through agriculture .... Industries can follow.''