By Nelson Manneh
The Gambia Horticultural Enterprises (GHE) has on Friday 11th June 2021 graduated one hundred young men and women onAgro-Food Processing, Vegetable Production.
These young men and women have gone through a three-month intensive training in both theory and practice on agro-food processing and vegetable production.
Momodou A. Ceesay, Managing Director for GHE, said the aforesaid enterprise was established in 1990 as a multi-purpose agro-business company engaged in the entire horticultural value chain from farm inputs and machinery distribution, farming, agro-food processing, marketing and services such as training.
“GHE with its expertise, facilities, and over 30 years of experience in the entire horticultural value chain facilitated these training programs to provide the skills, competencies, and job opportunities for the Gambian youth and women in agribusiness and agro-processing. Investing in skills development through such programs will go a long way in creating and expanding opportunities for meaningful employment in the agricultural and food sector,” he said.
Ceesay said the Gambia is currently experiencing the highest rate of growth in youth and women population. Therefore, he said including and empowering women in the socio-economic development of the country cannot be overemphasized. Speaking further, Ceesay said agriculture is a business and if young people and women are trained and empowered to take a central role in the sector, especially on food production and processing, it will be an effective strategy to build a resilient food sufficient that will create economic opportunities for the youth and women.
“After your graduation we will still be working with you, guiding and mentoring you, to see that you are successful. Our doors will always be open to you for advice and support. Those of you with the entrepreneurship spirit will be selected and provided with Start-Up-Kits to practice what you have learned. It is always good to start small and expand as you learn the trade and understand the market,” he said.
Ceesay said knowledge is power and with the skills they have learned from the training, they can apply it to be successful, saying the opportunities in the agricultural and food sectors are enormous.
“People must eat every day so look for areas you can intervene to make it. You must always be innovative and avoid copying other people’s ideas. Agriculture is business and you must always be market-oriented. Do market research in your area of operation and try to provide what the market needs. GHE will also endeavor to provide access to markets for your products,” he said.
Yusupha Keita, the International Trade Center Technical Adviser, said the project recognized that the role of TVET in imparting skills to the young people and contributing to the growth of the country cannot be overemphasized.
“It has supported the development of the TVET Roadmap, Sector Skills Councils, launching of formalized apprenticeship and training of over 800 youth and women since its launching,” he said.
Hassan Gaye, Deputy Prominent Secretary for the Ministry of Trade, said the Government of The Gambia will endeavor to support similar initiatives. He said they are committed to take lessons learned from the innovative program so that it can be replicated in other regions.
“The Government of The Gambia notes that the traditional approach to building livelihoods and creating job opportunities, where the formal economic sector does not provide adequate opportunities to young Gambians, does not have significant returns on investment anymore. In this regard, we should always be looking for more innovative ways of maximizing impacts of skills training and enterprise developments as it is the only way we can meet the various targets and objectives we have set in our employment creation and youth empowerment programs,” he said.