AGCO Agriculture Foundation initiative promotes knowledge and skills for Zambian youth
Program facilitators organized mentorship and coaching sessions, edutainment activities, and hands-on educational learning on vegetable gardening and farm operations.
AGCO Agriculture Foundation initiative promotes knowledge and skills for Zambian youthProgram facilitators organized mentorship and coaching sessions, edutainment activities, and hands-on educational learning on vegetable gardening and farm operations.
Facilitating Access to Interactive and Practical Learning-Based Programs for Youth at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm Community
Quality education and skills enhancement programs are essential pathways for empowering young populations and for transforming societies both economically and socially. Many young people lack education, skills, and access to capacity development programs, particularly in developing countries.
Importance of capacity development programs
Current global trends around leadership, technology and innovation skills, food systems transformation, economic growth, gender equality and climate change affirm the importance of building the capacity of the ever-increasing youth population in ways that are fun, creative, practical and values-driven.
In recent years, the AGCO Agriculture Foundation (AAF) has intensified its efforts to promote and support quality agricultural education and capacity development programs for key stakeholders, including youth, women, farmers and marginalized communities across the globe. This strategic commitment aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Last year, the AAF announced a six-month social initiative to provide interactive learning-based programs for children and young adults living at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm community in Zambia. The initiative received a generous donation from agricultural equipment company CLAAS in honor of the retirement of AGCO’s former Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Martin Richenhagen.
In Zambia, one of the youngest African countries, the initiative has formed partnerships with local non-profit organizations such as the Leadership Bank, Barefeet Theatre and AGCO Zambia Youth Group to provide tailored learning initiatives and personal development activities for the 50 youth participants enrolled in the program.
Developing talents, closing the skills gap
The famous saying from author Mark. W. Boyer explains that “the best help we can offer today’s youth is to prepare them for tomorrow”, helping to shape their minds and thought processes for the present and the future.
In this realization, the youth-focus initiative at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm community in Zambia was initiated to drive societal change, inspire creativity, and build networks of values-based leaders of tomorrow. The program facilitators organized mentorship and coaching sessions, edutainment activities, and hands-on educational learning on vegetable gardening and farm operations.
This is a great opportunity for the youth at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm community to develop both personal and community leadership skills through the series of interactive mentorship sessions,” said Syreeta Chitengi, Director at the Leadership Bank – Zambia. “Through the program, we have worked with the participants on important topics around leadership traits, purpose and values, character building, matters of peer pressure, setting personal goals and community development.
Anna Akapelwa, 16, a program participant, shared that the program had provided her with the much-needed soft and leadership skills that she didn’t know before the program’s start. In addition, she explained how she garnered essential lessons on self-belief, personal planning, and behavioral changes.”
Maureen Phiri, 18, highlighted her learning experience about creating a vision board. She said the program enabled her to develop a personal vision board. “Waking up to my vision board motivates me to work towards actualizing my personal and career goals”. She added, “I have also learned about the consequences of drug abuse and teenage pregnancy, and I’m determined to abstain from it and share the knowledge with my peers in school.
The program assessment shows that the participants engaged actively through a participatory approach deployed for each class. Participant Gladys Tubulu, 18, said the training series helped her reaffirm her sense of purpose and self-belief. “I have not only developed a strong confidence level to stand in front of a large audience but also improved my dancing, acrobatics, acting and self-management skills.”
The assessment from the Barefeet Theatre sessions shows how the program has changed attitudes, behaviors, and improved relationships among the participants.
When the program started, participants were not fully engaged as a group. They also showed low self-esteem, but as the program activities progressed, they started becoming more active and interactive,” said Taonga Tembo, Artistic Director at Barefeet Theatre.
Margret Phiri, 20, said she gained valuable lessons on community development and humanitarian services, especially on adequately managing waste and keeping the community environment clean and healthy. “Like other participants, I see myself as an advocate of change to portray good societal values and share the knowledge from this program with other peers.”
On the green garden component of the program, the participants noted that the experiential learning activities had enabled them to understand the basics of growing vegetables for healthy eating. Participant Francis Samyandulu, 15, said the practical classes on green gardens enabled him to learn and perform tasks such as land preparation for garden vegetable production.
As the participants prepare for a graduation ceremony at the Martin Richenhagen Future Farm compound this fall, they will explore ways to address societal problems and become change agents in their community. AAF and all project partners are optimistic that lessons from the program will lead to a mindset change for the participants to think differently and see themselves as active players for positive change.