INTERNATIONAL YOUTH DAY: Salesian Missions highlights initiatives that teach agriculture training to poor youth
Salesian missionaries offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 12, 2021) Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, joins humanitarian organizations and countries around the globe in recognizing International Youth Day. Celebrated each year on Aug. 12, International Youth Day was established by the United Nations to raise awareness of issues affecting young people around the world.
The theme of International Youth Day 2021 is “Transforming Food Systems: Youth Innovation for Human and Planetary Health,” highlighting that the success of global efforts must involve the participation of youth.
The U.N. noted, “With the world’s population expected to increase by 2 billion people in the next 30 years, it has become recognized by numerous stakeholders that simply producing a larger volume of healthier food more sustainably will not ensure human and planetary well-being. Other crucial challenges must also be addressed, such as the interlinkages embodied by the 2030 Agenda including poverty reduction; social inclusion; health care; biodiversity conservation; and climate change mitigation.”
Working in more than 132 countries around the globe, Salesian missionaries are regarded as the single largest provider of vocational and technical training in the world and are working to engage youth as global leaders of tomorrow. Salesian missionaries offer more than 1,000 vocational, technical, professional and agricultural schools around the globe. This training gives youth the practical skills to prepare for employment while helping them to lead productive lives and become contributing adults in their communities.
“We know that access to education lays the foundation for a better future for all youth,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “In many countries around the globe where poverty is high and access to education is not universal, Salesians are providing critical agriculture training so that youth can learn the trade and be able to access the most up-to-date practices to increase yields, protect the environment and help feed their community.”
In honor and celebration of International Youth Day 2021, Salesian Missions is proud to highlight Salesian agriculture programs that educate youth.
Salesian missionaries with Retreat-Don Bosco in Yercaud, India, have launched the second round of training for the “CALLS” program. Calling it “CALLS 2.0,” which stands for “COVID-19 Alternative Livelihood and Living Services,” the program provides farming assistance in tribal communities so residents have enough food to eat. Because Yercaud is a hill town, most people earn their living through tourism. Due to the pandemic, residents have seen poverty and hunger on the rise.
The “CALLS” program provides training in greenhouse and plant nursery skills, garden care, and greenery maintenance. The first round of training in August 2020 provided education to 40 people over a 21-day training course. Among the participants were 10 college students who wanted to earn money to pay their college fees, as well as learn a skill for the future.
The second round of training will educate 80 people. Participants are paid a daily wage during the training, which will enable them to gain employment in tourist resorts, private homes, or nurseries to create gardens and lawns, as well as provide greenery maintenance.
Many participants who completed the course in 2020 shared that the training was very empowering and has equipped them with a skill to earn a living. A few local businesses have expressed interest in hiring some of the participants.
Salesian missionaries have launched a support program to help vulnerable farmers in Ashaiman, Ghana, who have been affected by the rising cost and shortage of supplies caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. About 45 farming families have been provided with seeds, agricultural tools, fertilizers and various products.
The Don Bosco Technical Institute in Ashaiman also has an agriculture training program that is promoting sustainable, green and innovative agriculture education for youth and women. People have been trained in courses focusing on organic crop production, management, business planning and marketing. The program is also helping to support entrepreneurial youth farmers.
Salesian agriculture training provides relevant knowledge and hands-on experience related to biological organisms and how to combat pests and diseases. This training helps support good cropping systems that are green, sustainable and economical.
In addition, the Salesian Agricultural School in Sunyani is teaching students how to farm organically and to use greenhouses. These solutions increase the harvest since crops can be cultivated even during the dry season, and the annual distribution of produce can be better managed. Greenhouse crops are also an excellent deterrent against deforestation and climate change, as they do not need much space and do not require forests to be cut down to cultivate the land.
Don Bosco Agro-Mechanical Technology Center (known locally as Don Bosco Legazpi), located in Banquerohan, Legazpi City, Philippines, had the funding to purchase 1,000 chickens thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions.
Don Bosco Legazpi is a technical vocational school offering skills training and a farm development program for youth and local farmers to help them achieve self-sufficiency. As part of the center, Salesians have seven hectares of land for agricultural production, known as the Don Bosco Demonstration Farm. On the farm, Salesians teach agricultural production and proper utilization of agricultural equipment.
There is also the Don Bosco agricultural multi-purpose cooperative which facilitates microfinancing to farmers and coordinates the use of tractors and other mechanics for land preparation, planting, weeding, marketing and training. Part of the agricultural production is raising pigs and chickens. Currently, Salesians have facilities for 14 sows and two buildings for 1,000 chickens each. The chickens provided by this funding will produce eggs to sell to generate an income as part of the training program in entrepreneurship.
Don Bosco Legazpi offers its students an opportunity to combine theory with practice through its hands-on approach. Students use the skills they learn in the classroom by putting them directly to work in the fields that are part of the center’s farm. They are taught theoretical and practical courses in topics such as greenhouses, growing vegetables, cereal crops, gardening, breeding, animal husbandry and veterinary sciences, and dairy products.
Bosco Global recently launched the “Cultivating the skills of young people. Formation in agroecology in Tambacounda (Senegal)” project with the support of the Menorcan Fund for International Cooperation. The initiative is supporting the education and training for 10 students attending Don Bosco Vocational Training Center in Tambacounda and their families, which includes about 50 people.
Youth are learning about organic farming techniques, soil enrichment and water optimization. The students have been assigned rural plots, and some of them have already started working. The project will help curb desertification and enrich the soil that is now depleted due to a lack of nutrients and water, as well as help combat climate change, which is shortening the rainy season.
Thanks to this project, some of the students are already thinking about setting up a business to market their crops. At the end of the agroecological training, students will also be offered a course on how to obtain microcredit.
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