The administration of the Booker Washington Institute (BWI) in Kakata, Margibi County has introduced a new program in Agriculture Science.
The program aims to enlighten the minds of local farmers and gardeners on agricultural practices, which will continuously be demonstrated with presentations and students/farmers classified into several distinct groups. Each of the groups will discuss topics such as the protection of crops from disease and pest attacks, successful farming during the dry season, and how to add nutrients to the soil.
The first ever National Diploma in Agriculture (NDA) extension program, over the weekend, hosted a day-long seminar that brought together farmers, gardeners and BWI students.
The idea for the NDA seminar, according to Abraham Wowah, BWI’s Post Secondary and Professional Program (PSPP) Coordinator, stemmed from the establishment of the PSPP as instructed by BWI principal and chief executive officer, Harris Fomba Tarnue, a year ago.
The NDA came about as a result of the PSPP wanting the senior students majoring in agriculture to put into practice what they have learned in the class a few months ago.
Mr. Wowah said the NDA’s primary focus is to access difficulties the students face as well as to evaluate them to overcome future challenges in the field of agriculture extension.
“It seeks to acquire feedbacks from the public as to the students’ performances and to also capacitate senior students, who are subsequently preparing for the job market,” Wowah added.
He said the PSPP came into existence based on the instruction from Mr. Tarnue to integrate the agriculture vocational training program with the NDA. The program, he said, also offers short-term courses in computer literacy, labor union affairs and entrepreneurship.
Saturday’s seminar was facilitated by Mrs. Anna Glenn, AgriCorps Fellow, who has been working with the program since September 2016. She is assisted by her husband, Nathan Glenn, a teacher of an agriculture extension class. Mr. Glenn organized and also co-facilitated the seminar.
In separate remarks, the couple said they were gratified to work with the students and the small group of farmers who attended the training. They both are of the opinion that the program will grow to the next level of farming.
AgriCorps Founder and head of Agri Fellow at BWI, Trent McKnight, encouraged the participants to stay focused, “because farming itself is a noble enterprise, even though to grow more food to feed the family and the nation is challenging.”
Mr. McKnight urged them to consider themselves very important, nothing that if food is in short supply, the nation would suffer and the people will starve.
In 2013, McKnight founded AgriCorps, a Peace Corps type organization that connects American agriculture volunteers to the demand for school-based agricultural education in developing countries.
He is a lifelong rancher and businessman in Throckmorton, Texas, USA, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Agricultural Economics and Comparative Politics from Oklahoma State University and The London School of Economics, respectively. He is a past national president of the Future Farmers of America.
He has served as an agriculture advisor to the U.S. Military in Iraq, agricultural economist to the United Nations in West Africa and chairman of the United States Department Agriculture Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Committee. Agriculture, rural Texas and international development are his passions. He is assigned at BWI playing similar roles in the Agriculture Department.
At the end of the seminar, BWI awarded each of the participants a certificate of participation.