A group of ten (10) Malawian youths has left today for a nine (9)-month training program at the Songhai Center in Benin. The youths will be trained as entrepreneurs and socio-economic leaders, focussing on technical issues in various primary, secondary and tertiary production units of the Songhai Centre and emphasizing zero waste and sustainable agricultural production, including pre- and post-harvesting techniques. The training of the youth is one of the main activities under the Integrated Youth Development Programme (IYDP) whose overall aim is to promote access of youth, men, and women to appropriate agri-entrepreneurial, leadership and management skills required for their effective participation in the creation of and investment in commercially viable agro-enterprises in Malawi. The Programme is jointly funded by the Government of Malawi (GoM) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The training of the socio-economic leaders, which will take place from October 3rd, 2011 to July 3rd, 2012 offers an entry point for consolidating the establishment of training and production units for Malawian youth at the Neno Youth Development Centre. The youth will assist in setting up the various training/production units and act as trainers at the Centre in Malawi when they return.
Three (3) members of staff from the Neno Youth Development Centre have accompanied the group of youths for a four (4)-month training program at the Songhai Center in Benin. The training of Center staff, which will be in two sessions from October 3rd to December 3rd, 2011 and then from May 3rd to July 3rd, 2012, will combine management and technical functions of the Songhai Centre for replication at the Neno Center in Malawi. They will also specialize in broader technical departments of crops, animals, value addition and integrated systems. The Centre staff are also expected to assist in further consolidation of the establishment of the Malawi centre in Neno when they return. The Government`s vision for the Malawi Centre is to turn Neno Youth Development Centre into a regional and national Centre of Excellence based on the Songhai Integrated Development Model. The vision is based on the recommendations of the Malawi study mission to Songhai Centre in Benin in conducted in 2009.
Songhai Centre is a Private Voluntary Organisation (PVO) – established in1985 as an enterprise, development and research/extension institution, whose core business is formation (training) and production. With its focus on agriculture, the Centre trains local and foreign individuals who aspire to open their own farms; provides micro-finance credit to graduates; and produces a variety of goods and services, including crops, livestock, processed products and provides machines and internet, cafeteria and tele-centre services. It therefore promotes use of local resources in an integrated manner for socio-economic entrepreneurship by linking agriculture with industry and commerce (industry/sector integration); presenting the link and opportunity to add value and generate growth at three levels of production -- primary, secondary and tertiary; recognizing that primary production needs to be supported by processing and storage facilities to add value and avoid post-harvest wastage and ensuring that commodities and wastage in one activity/sector is used in another activity/sector to add value (Zero-waste)
Speaking when he saw off the ten socio-economic leaders and three Center staff at Kamuzu International Airport, the Minister of Youth Development and Welfare, Hon. Symon Vuwa Kaunda emphasized the importance of the training programme in contribution job creation and development of the country. He said, as young people, the youth are important and active participants to the development of this country since they should be drivers of transformation in line with the vision of His Excellency the President, Ngwazi Prof. Bingu Wa Mutharika of transforming this country from an importing and consuming country to a producing and exporting one. He said that Government recognizes the importance of investing in the youth if they are to play a role in development. Hon. Vuwa Kaunda therefore called upon the youths to be committed to the programme so as to acquire the skills as socio-economic leaders who are to champion socio-economic development when they return to Malawi. He urged them to be disciplined, hard-working and responsible while in Benin.