First young graduates of the Agricultural vocational training center (CFAR) of Niofoin, Côte d'Ivoire
Around 70% of the population in Cote d’Ivoire rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, most of them being subsistence, smallholder farmers. Access to vocational agricultural training can contribute significantly to enhancing agricultural production in the region and improving livelihoods of farmers and local communities as a whole.
Founded jointly by LDF, French agri-agency Fert and the Louis Dreyfus Company (LDC), the agricultural training center of Niofoin (CFAR) provides training in sustainable and innovative agricultural methods, leadership and entrepreneurship to the future generations of farmers that aims to facilitate the development of family farming in the region.
The center offers a two-year training program combining general education (mathematics, computer science, etc) with theoretical and practical agricultural training. Students also have access to an educational farm that serves as a demonstration site for food and livestock production. This allows students to acquire the multidisciplinary competences and skills required for successful farming, including crop and livestock management, and the mitigation of the technical and market risks that could hinder the farm’s sustainability.
In June 2021, the first cohort of 28 students graduated from the school after two years of intensive studying and training. Each student presented a final graduation project addressing the needs for sustainable livestock and local crop production systems in front of a professional jury. The graduation ceremony – which was attended by 200 people, including local authorities, representatives of the local farmer associations, students’ families and LDC employees - was the occasion to award students with outstanding academic performance and the best student projects. A school fair, exhibiting agricultural inputs and products of local manufacturers and distributors, was also held alongside the celebrations.
Thanks to the knowledge acquired during their training, the 28 CFAR graduates are now well prepared to pursue their objectives and implement their project. They will subsequently receive farming equipment in the form of in-kind contributions from a revolving fund established to support small-scale farmers who are starting out. Graduates will also get technical assistance and leadership skills training for a period of two years following graduation. Lastly, they will be connected to peer farmers and local input suppliers and buyers, in order to facilitate the growth of their activities.
“This is an important milestone - not only for our graduates and for local farming communities, but for CFAR’s mission, too. Côte d’Ivoire registers strong economic and demographic growth, and agriculture is a key pillar of the country’s economy. In this context, agricultural and rural education is a national priority. CFAR was created to train future generations of farmers on sustainable and innovative agricultural methods, contributing to the development of rural agricultural communities in a region where there is a strong need to promote farming among young people,” explains Robert Serpollet, General Manager of the Louis Dreyfus Foundation.
On October 4, 2021 the CFAR embarked on its third year. 28 students were able to start their second academic year of training while 37 new students were recruited and enrolled in the first-year curriculum. The priority for this new school year is to continue working on improving CFAR’s curriculum and teaching methods, and to support the successful integration of students into working life following graduation.