The Okuafo Pa Agricultural Training Centre, a pilot initiative of the Africa Project aimed at supporting economic diversification in the agricultural sector through skill transfer and business support has been inaugurated today in Dormaa East, Bono.
The centre extends over an area of 40 hectares and includes experimental laboratories and farming areas; it will provide theoretical and practical vocational training to 800 students per year in the agricultural, agri-food and zoo technical fields.
The training courses are developed in collaboration with local universities, and trainees can focus either on farming courses or agri-business courses.
“Professional training and skill acquisition is a precondition for social and economic development. Eni intends to play an active role in defining virtuous paths for sustainable growth in the countries in which it operates, and this project is a concrete example of what we can do if we pool our resources and those of our partners,” Claudio Descalzi, Eni CEO said at the event.
He said “since the beginning of our activities in Ghana 10 years ago we invested a lot in sustainability initiatives, from health to renewables, we invested over $7bn to develop oil and $2bn to develop gas for the domestic market, to feed power plants and guarantee power generation for the people.”
“Today we celebrate the first seed of a very ambitious project that will impact over one million people across Africa. We start with 800 students here but we will replicate this project and our target in Ghana is to reach 150,000 people,” he stated.
Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Minister, said the provision of the project was very timely since it would provide skills training in agribusiness and entrepreneurship to transform the recent good performance in the agric sector into big businesses along the entire value chain.
“Beside the capacity to host about 800 trainees, this project will also engender economic activities and employment opportunities in the agricultural and livestock sector through the building of capacities, improving technical skills, supporting access to market and general development of the communities in the catchment areas of the facility”, he stated.
The project, developed by Eni in collaboration with the Government of Ghana, is now enhanced by the collaboration with Cassa Depositi e Prestiti which will ensure the identification of the most appropriate mechanisms to access credit, as well as Coldiretti and Bonifiche Ferraresi, which will guarantee support in the start-up of agricultural activities.
During the event, Eni and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti, in its capacity as financial institution for international cooperation for development, signed a Cooperation Agreement for the definition of sustainable development initiatives in the agri-business sector.
The agreement also provides for a joint definition of mechanisms to facilitate access to credit in favour of the local communities and to use available international funds to promote sustainable development initiatives.
BY TIMES REPORTER