By Pacôme Tomètissi (Benin)
A large scale back-to-the-village scheme has commenced in Benin with the intention of training at least 65 per cent of the country’s youths in agricultural innovation. The first 100 young people have now received their certifications and are set to go into commercial farming.
For three months, the young people were trained at the National Institute of Agriculture, on farming and smallholders techniques, tractors driving, entrepreneurship, and trading and value chain. No diploma was required. The criteria for selection include being young and motivated.
“Creating this program to reintegrate youth has been a priority for the government and is the pathway to agriculture revolution,” said Benin Minister of Reintegration of young people, Allassane Soumanou Djemba. “We plan to reintegrate 90 per cent of young people into agriculture,” he added.
He said that 111 participants were selected for the training and 93 of them completed the course and received certification as successful attendants.
“During the 90 days of your training one could see your commitment to participate actively in the activities,” Djemba said.
Moubarak Akonasanta, one of the trainees, the course was interesting. “We will do our best. We are grateful to government for the opportunity. What we now need is micro finance to start implementing what we have learnt.” Minister Djemba promised that the national microfinance fund would be deployed to assist the successful participants’.
In Benin, hundreds of young people leave their villages for urban areas annually while harvest decrease, climate change and rudimentary agriculture are compelling youth to move to big cities where they usually working as taxi driver.
“It is too hard to cultivate. It is not easy to bend down all a day weeding herbs or plowing your farm. My father is only 65 but now walks bended because he stayed bended plowing his farm all his life,” Bossou, a young taxi driver told AfricaSTI.
According to Benin government, the training is to foster the green revolution it wants to reach in the coming years. That’s why a large back to village program has been set up to train the 65 per cent of young people on innovation and access to agriculture technologies.
65 per cent of the 10 million Benin populations are young and Benin government counts on agriculture as a core strategy for economic growth and poverty reduction.
The government recently announced that it will establish in 2013 the first University of Agriculture in the country to train young people on various aspect of agriculture including innovative methods and technology development and use.
In Benin, 33 per cent of people live under poverty line and agriculture contribute up to 35 per cent to the GDP.