An agricultural training program for unemployed youth
In 2019, Sabab Lou and its Gambian partner organization, the Rural Development Organization (RDO), collaboratively implemented a vocational and educational program for unemployed youth in The Gambia and for Gambian migrants willing to return. The Gambian Youth Project (GYP) takes place in the North Bank region and aims to train the Gambian youth in horticultural gardening and related business activities, so that they can earn a living with it.
In two year courses, 80 students are trained. The courses place a special emphasis on the business component of farming vegetables. The students are trained in all aspects of starting and successfully running their own business. According to the project’s timeline, 400 young people will have absolved the training over the course of the next ten years.
In addition to the theoretical training through coursework, the students will receive applied training by working in the new NGO garden of the RDO. They will learn and practice all aspects along the value chain – from planning harvests, to planting, to processing and selling.
The physical space, needed for both the farming activities as well as training and living facilities, has been made possible by the community of Ballingho, located on the banks of The Gambia river near Farafenni. In total, an area of approximately 12.5 hectares was transferred to the RDO for a period of 100 years. In addition, a solar water pump and irrigation system will make year-round cultivation possible. A building complex with separate working, teaching, and sleeping areas will serve to train and house students.
With this project, Sabab Lou follows a strictly entrepreneurial approach. In order to reach and maintain financial independence in the upcoming years, the RDO will enter into commercial vegetable farming. The revenues generated by farm profits will serve to maintain the project as well as to finance the project’s expansion in future years. The project has the full support of the Gambian government, and all measures have been developed in a joint effort with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Education.
The project is self-sustaining in the truest sense. Socially sustainable, in that it enables young people with the theoretical and applied tools to become entrepreneurs while earning a living in the field of agricultural. Economically sustainable, because it will be self-sustaining after a few years and the same model can be re-applied in other regions. Ecologically sustainable, because it utilizes solar energy as well as organic fertilization and pest control.