Madam Louise Paris, the Deputy Director of Operations at the Canadian High Commission in Ghana has hinted of a 125 million Canadian dollar grant from the Canadian government to help improve the agriculture sector.
She said the Canadian government was already partnering the government of Ghana to modernise the sector in the area of rehabilitation, retooling and infrastructure upgrading of all five colleges of agriculture in the country.
She said all five colleges would also benefit from a revised curriculum that would support market-oriented, gender sensitive and environmentally sustainable teaching and learning.
Madam Paris was speaking at a ceremony to officially hand over refurbished and retooled science and computer Laboratories to the Ohawu Agriculture College at Ohawu in the Ketu North Municipality of the Volta region.
She said the projects in all five colleges of agriculture was part of the Modernising Agriculture in Ghana (MAG) programme implemented by the Technical Education Development for Modernized Agriculture in Ghana (TEDMAG) and valued at 15million Canadian dollars.
The project was funded by Global Affairs Canada with support from the University of Missouri, USA and the University of Saskatchewan, Canada.
Mad. Paris said the ultimate outcome of the project was to improve the capacity of agriculture agents in Ghana to provide market-oriented, gender- sensitive and environmentally sustainable services to farmers.
It also aims at equipping students at the various agriculture colleges with practical agri-business, farm management, commodity value chain management skills and environmentally friendly strategies.
The project was also geared towards building the capacity of key agriculture actors; like Agric extension agents, farmer-based organisations, and nucleus farmers working in modernized agriculture production, farm management and value- chain management.
” Through the MAG programme, Canada is directly providing CAD $125 million to the government of Ghana to help modernise the agriculture sector which has significant potential for reducing poverty and inequality in Ghana this funding will be channeled through government systems with district and regional departments of agriculture as well as the national directorate of MOFA, the CSIR and the Agriculture Colleges all receiving funds to implement their approved activities and to deliver on their respective mandates”. Paris stated.
She said as part of the MAG programme and other initiatives, the two countries had over the past five years been working together to advance gender equality.
“Women in Ghana are demonstrating greater empowerment – they have higher levels of financial autonomy allowing them to purchase some land, mould some blocks and put up their own buildings- to purchase rudimentary agro-processing machines, to expand their agro-processing activities and to pay school fees for their children ” she said.
Mad. Paris said her country would like these benefits extended to the girls in the agriculture colleges through the design and implementation of courses that are attractive to and accessible to women as well as flexible policies to increase girl’s enrollment in these colleges.
She said each milestone like the handing over of the refurbished facilities moves Ghana and Canada closer to “our shared goals- through our partnership, we will continue to make progress towards poverty reduction, zero hunger, gender equality and growth that works for everyone”. She concluded.
Mr. Lawoete Tettey, director of human resource and development at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) lauded the initiative saying it was a game changer as far as agriculture programming and development in the country was concerned.
He said the Ministry was looking forward to upgrading the level of education and exposure students would gain from the new infrastructure and curriculum with the hope that it would improve their learning outcomes.
“We are looking forward to them having new experience that is relevant to facilitate market-oriented agriculture in the country-so that they don’t only come out with classroom knowledge but go into practical agriculture as well which will inure to the benefit of the entire country,” he said.
Mr Ernest Abiew, principal of Ohawu Agriculture College expressed gratitude to TEDMAG, the Canadian High Commission, MOFA and other partners for the gesture and promised to make maximum use of the facility to improve teaching and learning outcomes.
He said the college had several challenges including inadequate classroom blocks and hostel facilities especially for female students and a dilapidated place of convenience (toilet), acute water shortage and appealed for further support to address these challenges which he said was hampering smooth academic work in the college.
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