GHANA: Tractor Donation Increases Capacity for Students at Salesian Center
(MissionNewswire) While Ghana’s economy continues to improve, nearly 45 percent of the population lives on less than $1 a day, according to UNICEF. Ghana ranks 135 out of 187 countries on the United Nations Development Program’s 2011 Human Development Index, and rural poverty remains widespread in the dry savannah region that covers roughly two thirds of Ghana’s northern territory. Small-scale farms suffer from a lack of infrastructure and equipment, both of which are needed to shift from subsistence farming to more modern commercial farming which would yield greater incomes and a chance to escape poverty.
Many youth in Ghana are eager to learn job skills to open their own businesses and make a better life for themselves. Salesians in the country are working to meet this growing demand for skills training. A Salesian training center was opened in 1992 and has been developing new programs to meet the needs of local youth ever since. Early on, the center expanded to include training in a wide range of skills from carpentry and metal work to graphic arts. The Salesians have also developed a credit program to aid training center alumni in financing new businesses.
In addition to the training center and credit program, the Salesians run agricultural programs in the country. Through these programs, students learn about vegetable gardening, cooking, annual crops and the business of farming.
Recently, a tractor, trailer and some farming equipment was donated to a Salesian agricultural program in the city of Sunyani. The tractor was a gift from AGCO, an important manufacturer of agricultural machinery, while the trailer and the rest of the equipment were donated by the firm, Africatrack.
“Donations such as these help increase the capacity of our programs and allow students access to necessary equipment to learn the hands-on skills they need.” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Salesian-run agricultural schools offer more than just agricultural training – they are often part of a larger program that also offers literacy education and other vocational training, in addition to feeding programs for hungry children.”
Donations of equipment can have a big impact on an agricultural program. During the handover ceremony for the tractor, Mr. Helmuth Gehling, representing AGCO, said that he was impressed by the Salesian training programs for youth and for the development of agricultural production in the area. He encouraged the community to continue its important work and hoped for further collaboration in the future.
“Investing in agriculture education in developing countries is vital to a community’s livelihood and essential not only to overcome hunger and poverty, but also to ensure overall economic growth for the surrounding villages and cities,” adds Fr. Hyde.
UNICEF – Ghana