On Friday, 10 May 2019, the Mohamet Lawan College of Agriculture (MOLCA) of Maiduguri, Borno State, awarded certificates to 200 beneficiaries to mark their successful completion of an agriculture-related vocational skills training programme supported by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The 3-month training provided women and youth from local communities with various skills such as fish production; livestock production; crop production; landscaping and nursery; tie and dye, and soap and detergent manufacturing.
The initiative is part of the EU’s Borno Project, which was launched in December 2017 and targets 600 000 beneficiaries in four key intervention areas (infrastructure, livelihoods, social cohesion, and local governance).
The 200 graduates are part of a larger group of 600 who were enrolled in the vocational training scheme of the Integrated Community Recovery and Resilience in Borno State (IC2RB) programme in March 2019.
The event was attended by various officials including Mr. Shehu Isa Hussein, the Borno State Commissioner for Higher Education; and Mr. Mallum Izge, Representative of the Borno State Ministry for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement (MRRR).
“The college will forever remain indebted to these international bodies for the recognition accorded to it. I hope such collaboration will continue between the college and these agencies”, said MOLCA Provost Mukhtar Alkali as he hailed the EU’s and UNDP’s support.
Ensuring the employability of women and youth through vocational skills training is seen as a pathway to restoring decent livelihoods, improving sustainable recovery, resilience as well as the overall stabilization of communities that have been severely affected by the Boko Haram insurgency that is now in its 10th year.
“We know the demand for vocational skills is high, that available resources are limited and that the Government and NGOs or UN agencies cannot address all the needs. So you must join hands for the accomplishment of this task of building sustainable livelihoods and a resilient nation”, said UNDP Emergency Livelihoods Specialist Muhammad Khan as he urged the graduates to make the best of their newly acquired skills.
“I am looking forward to visiting your farms five years from now to see how you’re applying what you’ve learned and how you are using technology to improve your farming systems and to access new markets”, said EU Representative Kabiru O. Abbas as he adressed the MOLCA graduates.
Fresh from completing a specialization in crop production, Isiah Joshua, 21, shared his plans for a competitive business venture. “I just don’t want to be a producer but an employer. In the next three months, my target is to produce at least 6000 high quality breed feeds for farmers and employ at least 15 permanent staff.”
“Thanks to the EU and UNDP start-up package I intend to rent a farm, sink in a borehole, and to supply local producers within three months.” added Prince Isiah.
UNDP plans monitor the professional development of the new MOLCA graduates by providing qualified candidates with grants to help them launch their businesses.
Applicants will be selected based on a set of criteria such as 70% rates of attendance and performance respectively, and a robust business plan. UNDP has enlisted the services of the Center for Community Development and Research Network (CCDRN), a local NGO, to provide training on business plan development and financial management.