Automate agri-business to attract youth into the sector – CEO of Kitchen Huts Foods

The hoe and cutlass method of farming is serving as a great disincentive for the youth in Ghana to venture into agri-business, an Agro-Food Processor, Barbara Mantey, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Kitchen Hut Foods, has said.

Speaking on the Sunrise Show on 3 92.7FM Monday March 1, as part of a Mastercard Foundation partnered Media General’s initiative to celebrate young women in Agriculture, she explained that the agric sector of the Ghanaian economy will need to be mechanized in order to attract more youth into the sector

 “We don’t have access to equipment or machinery that is automated so it makes it very tedious. So we are looking at upgrading and scaling up where we will be fully automated from start to finish and also just expanding into the diaspora,” she said.

Regarding the challenges her enterprise is saddled with, she said “Manufacturing is definitely not easy, very capital intensive. So one of the challenges would be access to funding and also skilled labour.

“For a product like ours it has been quite challenging to expect because of the nature of it. It is fresh and must be kept frozen.

“If it was that easy, it would have just moved in but the nature and condition which needs to be transported makes it a bit difficult so we haven’t been able to do that. These are the three top challenges,” she said.

She added that “In the future we are looking at being fully automated .One of the reasons why a lot of the youth don’t want to go into agriculture and being involved even in the whole value chain is because it so manual.”

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Touching on her entrepreneurial strength, Barbara said that she is capable of venturing into any business so long as she has an interest in that particular trade.

Apart from banking, Barbara had a spell in the telecommunication industry. She was also a makeup artist. She is currently into agribusiness.

She explained that she succeeded in all the businesses she controlled because of adequate preparation.

Explaining the secret behind her success, Barbara said she decides to delve into areas she is convinced that she can excel.

“I had uncles and aunts that had farms but it wasn’t something that we were directly involved. But personally, there is no job that is like a no-go area for me.

“Everything, I will like to try my hands on. I always say this, I thank God for a creative mind and hand that everything that I touch I can add value to  it.

“If I cannot do it, I know that I can’t do it, I don’t touch it at all because it is going to have my name on it. You don’t just produce something and leave it as it is. You need to market it, you need to put a face to it, a voice to it.

“Your personality and everything goes with what you have created so you need to make it that good and then put everything together,” she told host of the show Alfred Ocansey.

Currently, she said Kitchen Hut Foods is available in over 25 retailing shops across the country.

She further explained the rationale for establishing Kitchen Huts Foods. She said “I started of as a makeup artist in the beauty industry and then I moved to the bank and then did a bit of telecommunications as well.

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“Finally, I came out of that corporate space and then it was what next to do especially when I started the farm link.

“That is how the idea came up. We just tested the market in 2016 selling to family and friends. When the idea came up because we say that when you have babies, one of the made in Ghana food products that that helps mothers with lactation, is consuming palm nut soup. But what was on the market which is canned is full of preservatives and doesn’t taste like the originals, I want really interested in that.

“So this is how the idea came about and in 2016 we started selling to family and friends. The feedback was fantastic.

“In 2017 we moved to the regulatory authorities (FDA) got it certified and we have been progressing. It was certified in 2017 and in 2018 we added palm oil and in 2019 spice range and some homemade sources.”

When Alfred Ocansey inquired of whether family and friends give her honest feedback and how she received those responses, she said “That period for me was easy because I have entrepreneurial mindset and so it is not like we did the first batch or samples and gave it out for free.

“We had to convince fronds and family that it was that good. So they paid for it.

“Somebody will not buy something and it doesn’t matter of they know you and then it is so bad and they can’t give feedback whether it is good or bad.”

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The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.  It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.
In Ghana, after more than a decade working with the private sector and government to promote financial inclusion and education through it’s Scholars Program, the Mastercard Foundation launched Young Africa Works, a 10-year strategy to enable 3 million young Ghanaians, particularly young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030.
Young Africa Works in Ghana aims to:

Enable the growth of women-owned enterprises through business development services, access to finance, and access to markets.

Enable young people to acquire skills that are needed by businesses in growing sectors of the economy and strengthen the quality of education to prepare students for the world of work.

Scale digital training and strengthen technology-focused employment opportunities.

The Mastercard Foundation is partnering with Media General to celebrate young women challenging the status quo in Agriculture to commemorate International Women’s Day 2021.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana