Each year, we and our partner, the Rural Development Organization, will educate about 100 young Gambians in commercial vegetable gardening. But what exactly does the two year long program include? Which topics will be discussed?
It’s not as easy as just copying the curriculum of similar agricultural training programs here in Germany and translating them into the local language. This would be the classic paternalistic way of thinking of past days. To ensure that the theoretical education meets Gambias reality, we have to develop something of our own.
For this, we had the best practice. In the last few years of engagement in the Baddibu project, we have learned a lot – not only from each other, but also about the chances and risks of commercial vegetable gardening in The Gambia. Together with the people of the Baddibu gardens we worked on best practice samples during all phases of vegetable gardening – from profitable gardening to marketing and food processing. We know what is possible, and what is important to know if one wants to earn a living as an agricultural entrepreneur.
That is why, with approval from the “National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority” (NAQAA), the Ministry of Education, which licenses and approves all training plans, we will implement a high level hands-on training – with 80 percent practical work in the NGO garden and 20 percent theoretical lessons. For each semester clearly defined goals will be determined.
The theoretical education will extend to 6 hours per week – two hours on three days in the week. The groups will be kept deliberately small – with 12 to 13 trainees in each class.
THE BASIC TRAINING
In the first year the trainees will receive a basic training in
- nutrient analysis
- crop cycles
- organic pest control
- different forms of irrigation
- composting and mulching
- profitability and market-oriented cultivation
- crop rotation and staggered cultivation
They will learn more about
- different types of vegetables and their nutrient requirements
- mixed cultures and vegetable friendships
- seed multiplication
- the pros and cons of hybrid seeds and the corresponding cost-benefit calculation
- crop forecast and consequent market observation
- revenue tracking
- insightful data collection.
In short: the students will learn a holistic approach to commercial vegetable cultivation. But importantly it will be about taking responsibility as a gardener for the plants, animals and equipment.
THE SECOND YEAR OF TRAINING
When the first 50 adolescents have completed the first two semester of basic training, the next group of 50 adolescents will start, whereas the advanced students will devote themselves to all aspects of food processing, or animal rearing, or pomoculture.
In addition marketing, business administration, product development, packaging and sales are taught. It will also be about cooling, storage and transport, afforestation, landscaping and much more. And in the second year of training the young people can not only prove their own initiative, but also grow to be a mentor for the new ones.
TEACHERS AND CURRICULUM
In the first and second semester, the teachers will primarily be the agricultural experts who also work in the garden. But also other professionals will step in, especially when talking about entrepreneurship. In the second year of training, more and more foreign teachers will step in, including from Germany.
The creation of the teaching materials will be a special task for us. We have to assume that many students will not have more than a primary education because of the expensive high school fees. But we want them to be able to participate in the program as well. That’s why we will create understandable and visual teaching materials.
Further education offers
It is a priority for us to especially educate girls and young women in the process – they will form their own group. We want to empower them to build their own independence – so that they are not subject to early marriage and dependence.
Mariama Jallow, a candidate for the youth project, hopes for a better life: “With the wealth of knowledge and experience which I will gain during my training, I will be able to become a horticulturist and hence be able to sustain myself.“
We want to add voluntary weekend offers into the programm. This can be entertainment like sports or music sessions. But we also want to tackle some important issues, such as gender roles, circumcision, child marriage, escape/migration, trauma and re-integration. It can be lectures on health care, nutrition, family planning and education.
In short, we want to do everything possible to contribute to the development of open-minded, capable and responsible young people. We want to give them a new opportunity and self-esteem.