The Assistant Representative of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations in Sierra Leone, in Charge of Programs, Mr. Harding Wuyango on Thursday 18th March 2021 officially opened the training program for 40 youths at the Great Hall of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET) polytechnic, Goderich campus in Freetown.
He articulated that the program is to reaffirm FAO’s commitment to the Milton Margai College, admonished the participants to start thinking about entrepreneurship, that the training is between five competitive institutions to create jobs intimating that FAO has other opportunities for them and assured, “FAO has different projects like livestock and crops.”
The FAO National Project Coordinator of the Green Jobs for Rural Youths Project, Mr. Abdulai Bangura revealed that the project is a partnership with the Korean International Cooperation Agency to protect forests and lands, to introduce green jobs to rural youths highlighting that Sierra Leone is among two other countries where the project is being implemented, the others being Zimbabwe and East Tumor.
The training of the 40 participants, at the MMCET Goderich campus, will last for 21 working days.
According to Mr. Bangura, the main objectives of the project are to provide decent employment for youths, introduce green job initiative and the green economy as Sierra Leone is one of the high risk countries prone to natural disasters and for the participants to know about climate change so as to use green initiatives through agriculture to address them disclosing that a grant of $5,000 each for 10 participants to embark on entrepreneurship is part of the package as well as 2 years employment for 30 other participants for which FAO is looking for partners.
Mr. Bangura continued that they would look out for partners in the agriculture value chain that has many benefits and admonished participants to be punctual and attentive as all the training modules are connected.
The Western Area Rural District Agriculture Officer, Mr. Lahai Bangura disclosed that FAO is one of the major implementing partners to the Ministry of Agriculture and has contributed immensely to the agriculture and other sectors in the country.
He reiterated that the selection process of the 40 participants was very credible and transparent, urged participants to be serious during the training and acclaimed FAO for its continued support.
The Youth Chairlady for the Western Area Rural District, Ambassador Marie Bangura said the project is a dream come true, that youth unemployment is high in the country, that 200 youths applied but only 40 youths (20 males and 20 females) were selected and appealed to them to be studious as the project is a case study, the more reason they must prove themselves and create impact for others to benefit from it and promised to continue working hard to reduce unemployment in the Western Area Rural District.
She further informed that in Sierra Leone, the Green Project is being implemented in five districts including Kono, Kambia, Moyamba and Western Rural to benefit 40 unemployed youths who are either graduates on still going to school adding that the beneficiaries were thoroughly assessed and interviewed by various stakeholders including the Western Area Rural District Council, the Ministry of Agriculture and the local authorities
The principal of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology polytechnic, Dr. Philip John Kanu revealed that the day is a moment of joy and fulfilment for him, that several meetings were held with the various stakeholders for the project to commence, that FAO and other stakeholders assessed both the capacity of the college and its lecturers to undertake the project emphasising that the college is part of the success story.
According to Dr. Kanu, President Julius Maada Bio is having sleepless nights to create opportunities for youths, that the college’s Technical University status would focus on youths, that the college has the best lecturers in the country, that the college is the most suitable for the training and acclaimed FAO for the opportunity that is coming with a package of $5,000 for 10 lucky participants depending on their project proposals that would be assessed by experts.
Dr. Kanu also encouraged the participants to plant trees and vegetables that have ready markets and not buy smartphones, commercial motorbikes and tricycles (kekehs) that would help pollute and in the process destroy the environment.
He said the college received a standing ovation in Parliament recently for its prudent financial management, the only college in the country to be accorded such an honour intimating that the World Bank has provided Le3 billion to train students in tourism while government has secured funding to rehabilitate and expand the Goderich, Congo Cross and Brookfields campuses of the college.
Earlier, the registrar of the college, Mr. Sheriff Bangura, who chaired the ceremony, welcomed all.