Green Innovation Centers for Agriculture and Food Sector (GICAFS) have been set up in several countries under a special initiative of the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to promote innovation in the agricultural and food sectors in order to combat rural poverty and hunger.
The GICAFS-Benin, which is based at the AfricaRice station in Cotonou, has set up community teams in 21 communes in the country to strengthen innovation systems in agriculture and food sector. To closely monitor these teams, 133 young graduates from high schools and agricultural schools have been recruited.
A major objective of the GICAFS is to provide practical training to young graduates in agricultural innovations. For this, the graduates from central and southern Benin, who have been recruited for the GICAFS activities, were trained in Bohicon, from 13 to 22 February 2017, and those from northern Benin were trained in Parakou, from 6 to 10 March 2017.
It was an opportunity for the participants to become thoroughly familiar with the GICAFS objectives and activities. Presentations and hands-on courses were provided on information systems (wiki and database); the RUN business model for service provision; facilitation techniques in rural areas; farmer field school; and innovation guides relating to rice, soybean, maize, groundnut, poultry and oil palm.
These new graduates from agricultural schools and high schools are thus trained to work for eight months with 348 producer groups in the GICAFS project, in collaboration with 348 school dropouts included in these groups. Their responsibilities, relating to their respective areas of intervention, include:
- Facilitating question and answer services for the benefit of producers in 173 arrondissements
- Conducting practical training sessions on innovative technologies with the 348 groups
- Conducting surveys
- Sharing information with more than 50,000 producers
- Collecting and exchanging data on prices and rainfall
- Supporting the development of business plans
- Creating a credit system at group level
It is important to highlight that the main objective of the GICAFS is to enable young people to strengthen their practical skills and develop their professional network in order to facilitate their integration into the labor market from the agricultural sector.