This article was written by the Local Organizing Committee of the ToT Course and posted on their behalf by Damian Laryea
The first ever 10-day Training of Trainers course titled ‘Everything you need to know about sweetpotato’ was held at International Centre for Innovative Learning- Kwame Nkrumah University for Science and Technology (ICIL-KNUST) and Crops Research Institute (CRI), Fumesua, Ghana from 1-12 February 2016. It was attended by 33 participants – 10 of them were women. The ToT course was organized by KNUST, in partnership with the International Potato Centre (CIP) and the CRI. The course aimed to train participants on all aspects about sweetpotato, with a special focus on OFSP and its rich vitamin A content.
Applications were submitted from as far as Ethiopia, Sudan and Peru. However, due to the regional focus of the training, 33 participants were admitted. They included a team of five from Nigeria, and one participant from Liberia attended. In Ghana, participants came from Northern region, Upper region, Volta region and Greater Accra.
Exploring the potentials of sweetpotato along the value chain
Most sweetpotato in Ghana is white or yellow-ﬂeshed, but a few orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) varieties are now available. However, there is very little awareness of their nutritional value. There is also limited multiplication, dissemination and promotion of these varieties. Demand creation campaigns to inform the consuming public of the diverse additional uses of sweetpotato are lacking. This is because of low capacity of stakeholders along the OFSP value chain.
Countrywide, the commonly known use of sweetpotato is boiling and frying as a supplementary meal. However, there are good potentials in processing sweetpotato as flour and its diversified products, baby foods, and into puree form which shortens the process of using flour for its derived product. It is an undeniable fact that there has been little or a total lack of significant investment in demand creation campaigns and utilization for this commodity. That is why training and building the capacity of key stakeholders along the sweetpotato value chain is essential.
The ToT course was adapted for Ghana from an original course, “Everything you ever wanted to know about sweetpotato” developed and implemented by the International Potato Center under the “Reaching Agents of Change” project. Since 2012, the course has been offered to extension educators, NGO workers and others engaged in the promotion of sweetpotato for health and wealth in Mozambique (Portuguese), Nigeria (English), Tanzania (Swahili), and Burkina Faso (French). The seven volumes of the ToT course are available for download in any of the four languages here.
ToT Course builds institutional capacity
‘Everything you need to know about sweetpotato’ adopts a multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach. In Ghana, a local organizing committee was formed and 15 facilitators identified. These facilitators took part in a pre-training course with the support of Dr. Jonathan Mkumbira, a consultant facilitator from Malawi. Mkumbira then took part in the actual ToT training as an observer, while the 15 facilitators took lead.
The process of pre-training, planning and executing the ToT course improved the technical and institutional capacity of implementing agencies, such as CRI and the Departments of Food Science and Technology, Planning, Agricultural Economics, Agribusiness and Extension and Crop and Soil Science at KNUST and the University of Development Studies, Nyamkpala campus.
Participants rate the first ToT course a success
Comments indicate that the ToT course participants were very satisfied and happy with the whole process of organizing and
conducting the course. They felt that facilitators were knowledgeable in the courses they handled.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the course, the facilitators conducted pre- and post-training evaluations. The result showed that there was a 54% improvement in the level of knowledge. They said that the knowledge and skills obtained from the ToT training were highly relevant. They felt confident that the training will translate into improved production, increased processing, utilization and marketing of OFSP in the zones they work.
The ToT course participants identified various opportunities along the OFSP value chain. These included input supply (vine multiplication, vine sales, etc.), production of tubers, trading (wholesaling, retailing), processing (indigenous products, novel products, etc.), transportation and distribution.
Planning to train others
24 of them signed an action plan to show their commitment to train other people. Their target audience includes agricultural extension agents, traders, processors, opinion leaders in communities and community members, staff and students of institutions and stakeholders of the Ghana School Feeding Programme (GSFP). Some participants already coined names for their training courses and identified tentative dates.
The priority topics they would like to address include access to adequate roots, ensuring that nutrition and agricultural extension persons send the same message during delivery, marketing, improving knowledge of processing and nutritional value of OFSP, shelf-life and packaging of OFSP products and public-private partnerships to improve marketing of products.
However, access to funding remains a big challenge for the ToTs. Having received scholarships to attend the 10-day course, they were concerned about whether the people they wanted to train would be able to secure similar support.
The team of facilitators will continue to follow up the first cohort of 33 ToTs to monitor their action plans. Following its resounding success, another training will be held from July 25, 2016 to August 5, 2016. Details of the course can be found here: http://foodscience.knust.edu.gh/events/general/everything-you-need-to-know-about-sweetpotato