International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)-funded project – the
National Agricultural Land and Water Management Development Project (Nema) –
recently organised two - five days training of trainers (ToT) programmes on
entrepreneurship and business development for 60 participants at the Jenoi
Agricultural Training Centre in LRR.
The 60 participants were a mix of Multi-Disciplinary Facilitation Team (MDFT) from the Department of Agriculture, Nema Conservation Field Assistants (CFA), Nema Songhai graduates, business development service advisers from United Purpose (formerly Concern Universal) – a key implementing partner to Nema, and other extension workers drawn from across the country.
30 participants were grouped into 2 blocks for five days intensive training, and each training block was conducted by two different consultancy firms, specialised in entrepreneurship and business development training.
The first set was trained by RCM (formerly Executive Group) and the second training was conducted by 3A’s Consulting. The training modules included: understanding entrepreneurship, financial and operational management, value chain approach, farm and agribusiness systems, financing and expanding your business, business advisory, counseling, mentoring, and coaching.
One of IFAD’s main objectives of financing the Nema project is to assist poor rural women and youth to develop their skills and organisations to take advantage of improved agricultural technologies and effective production services as well as support them with opportunities to improve their income, thereby reducing poverty.
Speaking to journalists, Mr Banky Njie, Nema Business Development Officer and component head of the training, spoke at length on the importance of the training stressing that it was designed to equip participants an in-depth knowledge on entrepreneurship.
The main thrust of the training of trainers was to strengthen the participants’ skills and give them the entrepreneurial toolkit to be able to work directly with farmers in assisting and developing their farms into viable and sustainable businesses.
The Nema project, Mr Njie said, designed the training to help participants to develop a simple business plan for farmers that they are working with directly.
“It is only when you understand the concept of entrepreneurship that you can do the step-down to others,” he said.
He added that the project actively seeks efforts to help subsistence producers transform into market-oriented producers and link them to local, regional and even international markets as a means to improve their incomes in a sustainable way.
Mr Njie finally warned that to follow-up and ascertain the impact at farmer level, Nema will continue to monitor the progress at field level through its field coordinators to gauge the effect of the step-down trainings and how it is helping farmers to transform and get them thinking and behaving like entrepreneurs.
Mr Tamba Jammeh, a Songhai graduate, expressed appreciation for been elected to attend the ToT, saying that the knowledge he gained from the training has equipped him to support farmers to improve production in a sustainable way.
“It was very impressive and I believe if such continues, we will be able to maintain a lot and extend the information to the people who need our services such as the farmers,” he said.
Mr Babucarr Ceesay, agricultural extension worker from West Coast Region youth farming center, hailed the facilitators for their tireless efforts in supporting them during the training. It was intensive and hands-on, with professional guidance and practical examples of how to keep records etc.
His words: “Since day one, our facilitators were able to give us their knowledge. The training was very short and if not we will do more than this. We are very thankful to Nema and the trainers for sharing their knowledge with us. We are very thankful to the team and the camp manger.”
Nato Darboe, one of Nema’s CFAs, expressed delight at the end of the five day training, as she believed she has now gained better understanding on the subject of business and entrepreneurship. She said with her technical knowledge of extension service, she should be better able to transfer the necessary skills and knowledge to farmers on the farm in a simple and practical way.
Mr Ousman Bajinka, Nema CFA, echoed similar sentiments in his vote of thanks, saying he was excited about the usefulness of such training, and how they (the participants) will utilise the knowledge gained to properly carry out a step-down training as agriculture extension workers, to improve the lives of our rural farmers.
During the closing ceremony of one of the trainings, Mr Lamin Marong, regional agriculture director at LRR, challenged the participants to properly use their newly acquired entrepreneurial skills to assist farmers with their businesses to help them grow for the market, make more money, manage their money better, improve record keeping and this will eventually get them out of poverty.
At the end of both trainings, all participants received certificates of attendance.