These beneficiaries are being trained at Kura’s Garden in Sotokoi (West Coast Region), NEDI in LRR, and Tumana Agency for Development (TAD) in URR.
The apprenticeship program gives out-of-school youths or even those without any formal education background an opportunity to learn a trade such as beekeeping, horticulture or agroprocessing. These programs are intense and very practical-focused. To better prepare the beneficiaries for self-employment, basic literacy and numeracy skill training are also offered, together with three additional months of attachment in a rural-based enterprise or cooperative.
Yahya Badjie, a madrassa graduate from Sifoe is one of the beneficiaries who recently completed the 4-months course in horticulture at Kura’s Garden: “The training was very meaningful and now with the attachment program, I'm able to put into practice my land preparation skills, market surveys, mulching, drafting amongst other modules learned during the course".
Yahya is one of the recent graduates from Kura’s Garden who is advocating for the proliferation of Gambian produce in the market. This same point was addressed by the Centre Manager, Momat Nyang, as the school supports the students into forming cooperative: “We want to put the horticulture and the agrofood-processing students into one cooperative society so that they will be working together to make sure in the next few years they control the food and beverages in this country to eliminate the large importation of these items to our supermarkets."
Esther Mendy a native of Brikama Nyambai is happy to benefit from the EU-funded project as she has gained enough knowledge in food processing to be able to start her venture in making baby food, mango and papaya jam, tomato paste, pepper sauce to name a few. Currently, Kura’s Garden enrolls 25 trainees in agro-food processing and 29 trainees in horticulture and is expected to enroll 15 trainees in agro-food processing before the year ends.
In TAD, Fatoumatta M. Bah is one of the 25 beneficiaries in agro-food processing currently on attachment at the Centre. She was also trained in beekeeping which she explains has improved her understanding of bees and their economic importance: “People were cutting down trees and smoking the bees which killed so many of them. With this training, we have understood the health benefits alongside the ways we can get honey out of the bees, whilst preserving their lifespan.” Fatoumatta stopped at grade 10 due to financial constraints, but now she has the certainty to earn money sustainably, which will be possible after the one-year program.
Based on the apprenticeship methodology developed in the respective trade areas, NEDI has also trained 100 youths in LRR in food-processing, bakery, beekeeping and horticulture. The training courses in the four trade areas offered are expected to last for three months, except for beekeeping which is for a six months period. Participants are hopeful for a better earning which can sustain their families: With the required tools and knowledge, the ownership of the project is assured as they work closely with and rely on continuous support from their respective trainers and mentors. This, as put forward by the beneficiaries, is a life-sustaining scheme which could not have come at a better timing when the world is going through immense changes and challenges.