A delegation from the Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, is in Ghana to observe the progress of “Horticulture in Ghana for a brighter future” project being rolled for some 400 youth in the country, expected to make them employable.
The project; Horticulture for Entrepreneurship, is also training some 40 model farmers as lead farmers who will in turn train other farmers in sustainable horticulture.
“We are here to see how everybody will benefit from the project and scale some of the activities, and to assure of ways we can do things differently by providing the knowledge and motivation,” Dr Frank Ohene Annor, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Delft University of Technology, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview in Kumasi.
“… And with the lands that we have, we should be self-sufficient in terms of food and reduce the importation of food into the country,” he said.
Led by Professor Nick van de Giesen, Chairman of the Delft Global Initiative, Delft University of Technology (TU Delft), the Netherlands, the team, together with partner implementers, including the Kwadaso Agriculture College (KAC) and the Holland Green Tech, had already interacted with the first batch of 25 students undergoing a four-month training in horticulture and entrepreneurship at the Kwadaso Agriculture College in Kumasi.
They also met a lead farmer who was running a demonstration farm.
Dr Annor told the Ghana News Agency that the working visit was also to enable members of the Steering Committee of the two-year project, to meet and discuss the way forward of the project, being funded under the European Union Archipelago.
The steering committee is made up of staff of KAC, Delft TU, the Kumasi Business Incubator of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, and the Oforikrom Municipal Assembly.
Dr Annor said the project was a new model for TVET training being tested in the country, evolving around the linkages between teaching and research, and the private sector.
He said it would also allow the farmer to interact more smoothly with the people within the value chain to ensure productivity.
“It is more like a partnership, while we learn from the farmer, the farmer also learns from us, and together, we try to improve the production of the farmer,” he said.
“The ultimate aim is to make sure that there is a lot of employment for the youth; for the females as well as for the immigrants in the country.”
“We don’t want people to see agriculture as only for the elderly but we are to motivate the youth to also get into horticulture. And the only way they will get into it is when they see it as very lucrative or attractive by using modern technology and having a high turnout.”
Though the project was for 80 students per batch, the number was reduced to 25 due to COVID-19, Dr Annor explained.
He said the students were shown land preparation, soil type, how to create nurseries, transplants, and also shown greenhouse technologies.
They were also linked to lead farmers to see how things were done practically while seeing farming as a business.
The Archipelago is a programme financed by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, with the objective of improving the employability of youth through targeted technical and vocational training services.
It is also to strengthen the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in 12 countries in the Sahel and Lake Chad region including Ghana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Gambia, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Nigeria, and Senegal.
Mr Samuel Darbah, the Head of Crop Science Department, KAC, and Project Coordinator, said the project initiative took a comprehensive approach to horticulture, by working with communities to increase awareness with regard to the importance of horticulture for the agriculture sector.
It was also partnering with local cooperatives and farmers to provide trainees with relevant knowledge and skills while working with farmers to help them increase their productivity, he said.
That was done through acquiring and utilising improved inputs and new technologies, and by linking vegetable farmers with the local, regional and international markets.
Horticulture is the cultivation of plants in gardens to produce food and medicinal ingredients for comfort, ornamental or commercial purposes.