While the middle of a global pandemic may seem like an unusual time for any student to embark on an internship, a group of 30 graduates from agricultural colleges in Ghana are doing just that. As a part of MADE’s coordinated COVID-19 response, the interns will work with smallholder farmers and their rural communities to raise awareness of ways to control the spread of the disease.
Equipped with masks and hand sanitiser, and trained in COVID-19 safety protocols, they will be helping Northern Ghana’s farming communities to ensure the agricultural season continues uninterrupted even in these unprecedented times.
Agribusiness experience out of the ordinary
The Market Development Programme for Northern Ghana (MADE), funded by UK aid, has recruited and placed these agricultural extension graduates as interns to support the work of its agribusiness partner firms in Bono East, Northern, North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West Regions.
The 30 interns, made up of an even mix of male and female graduates, have responded to the call out of their interest in pursuing a career in a modernising, private sector-led agricultural sector. By placing interns with partners firms, MADE has given the interns an opportunity to gain practical experience by working alongside Farm Enterprise Advisors as they provide support to rural farming communities. At the same time, the scheme’s goal is to show agribusinesses the added value of attracting qualified graduates to their sector.
Throughout these four weeks, the interns will have a special job to do. Using tablet-based tools and materials provided by MADE, they will spread messages about how to stay safe and prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the course of farming, processing and marketing. They will also engage in a business related activity to get a better understanding of the challenges that the agricultural sector is facing and experience the benefits to smallholder farmers when working with firms that have adopted MADE’s advanced business model.
Supporting a rural response
The internship programme, launched on 15 June 2020, is one of the ways in which MADE is rapidly adapting to the new health situation and activating its widespread networks in Northern Ghana.
MADE has worked with 114 agribusinesses and support enterprises since 2014, which have empowered more than 108,000 smallholder farmers – 46% of them women – to build better agricultural livelihoods. MADE has helped deliver significant changes in the way these agribusinesses operate and engage with their rural customers. Now, recognising that the MADE model provides an important link to some of Ghana’s most vulnerable rural communities, the programme is also ensuring that their networks will become part of the response to the novel coronavirus.