The graduation ceremony for the first batch of trainees of the Okuafo Pa Agricultural Training Centre was held in Dormaa East, Bono Region. This event marked the successful completion of training of the first batch of 800 students in the face of challenges posed by the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The Centre was inaugurated in November 2019 in the presence of the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo and the CEO of Eni Mr. Claudio Descalzi.
The Graduation ceremony was scaled down in order to adhere to government COVID-19 guidelines, with a group of trainees in attendance to represent the 800 graduands. Following their 12-month training, the former students are now equipped with the skills required to start-up their own businesses along the agricultural value chain. The areas of training were selected in line with the national priorities of food security, import substitution and export trade. Selected fields include poultry, maize, cashew, cocoa, and tomatoes.
All trainees of Okuafo Pa, made up of approximately 450 men and 350 women aged between 18 and 40 years, will now get post-training support to access the labour market or to obtain credit facilities to set up their own businesses. The long-term vision of Okuafo Pa is to create an agro-industrial hub that will aggregate and develop self-sustainable agricultural cooperatives that contribute to the socio-economic development of the host Region. Selection of the second batch of 800 trainees for the 2021 training year has started and will be completed by end of this year.
The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Owusu Afriyie Akoto, said that “By implementing the project, Eni is partnering with the Government of Ghana in its transformational agenda”.
Giuseppe Valenti, Managing Director of Eni Ghana, commented that “Today we celebrate the efforts and dedication of Okuafo Pa’s teachers and trainees, who completed all the activities despite the ongoing pandemic, showing resilience and commitment, under the effective leadership of the Agriculture Faculty of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).”
The Okuafo Pa Agricultural Training Centre is the pilot initiative of Eni’s Africa Program, aimed at supporting economic diversification in the agricultural sector through skill transfer and business support, in particular by means of self-sustaining agricultural consortia. It has been developed by Eni in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, represented by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Other partners are Italy’s financial institution Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and agro-industrial complex Bonifiche Ferraresi.
Eni and its partners are actively evaluating the opportunity to replicate this initiative in Ghana and other Sub-Saharan Africa countries. The Africa Program is aimed at achieving the United Nations 2030 Agenda’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), in particular SDG 1: no poverty; SDG 4 quality education; SDG 5: gender equality; SDG 6: clean water and sanitation; SDG 8: decent work and economic growth; SDG 12: responsible consumption and production; SDG 17: private public partnerships.