A total of 591 learner farmers made up of 403 males and 188 females who went through a six-month competency-based training (CBT) programme in oil palm cultivation have passed out at the University College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (UCAES) at Bunso in the Eastern Region.
The graduands, who were presented with certificates, were taken through specific modules such as nursery establishment, land preparation and plantation establishment, farm management, harvesting and agribusiness management.
The training programme was organised by Solidaridad West Africa in collaboration with UCAES with financial support from GIZ of Germany and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
The training, which is under the Ghana Skills Development Initiative (GSDI), took place at UCAES and the Kumasi Institute of Tropical Agriculture (KITA).
Addressing the graduands at the premises of UCAES, the Head of Programme for Sustainable Economic Development (PSED), Detlev Axel Jahn, said the German Government remained committed to supporting the activities of the Technical Vocational and Educational Training (TVET) sector in Ghana.
He stated that it was one of the surest ways to attain the financial and economic independence that young Ghanaians were striving for.
Mr Jahn said as part of the training, the learners went through practical training sessions at selected agricultural enterprises such as the Ghana Oil Palm Development Company (GOPDC), Voltpalm, and Volta Red, among others.
He congratulated the graduands and urged all stakeholders in the TVET sector to continue to support the efforts pursued by both the government and its development partners to make TVET an attractive field for the youth.
The Programme Manager of Solidaridad West Africa, Nicholas Issaka, said the main objective of the training was to ensure that the Ghana TVET system produced standardised and high-quality education to improve the professional skills of the youth.
That, Mr Issaka noted, would meet the needed labour market as well as promote immediate employment.
He said oil palm production in Ghana was dominated by small-holder farmers without the necessary skills as such, production had been five metric tonnes per hectare, which he stressed could be raised to 20 tonnes per hectare if the farmers had been equipped with the needed high skills.
Mr Issaka pointed out that Solidaridad was providing people with professional skills in oil palm production to enhance their livelihoods.
The Rector of UCAES, Dr Charles Brempong-Yeboah, said the university had been able to transform the graduands from scratch to skills levels in the Agricultural Technical Vocational and Education and Training (ATVET) programme of the oil palm value chain.
That, according to Brempong-Yeboah, would not only empower them economically but help mitigate the adverse effects of excessive importation of oil palm on the exchange rate to position the country on a solid economic path.
Three of the graduands, Christian Agbavitor, Augustina Akomeah and Priscilla Asare Larbi told the Daily Graphic that they were highly excited to be part of the training which would improve their skills and consequently their livelihoods.
They also commended Solidaridad West Africa, GIZ, UCAES as well as other partners for providing them with skills to improve their farming activities in oil palm cultivation.