In the interest of knowledge exchange and benchmarking, also attending the conference were delegates from other countries in the Eastern and Southern region. The Conference observed the attitudinal aspect was missing from the skills transfer in academic programmes in the agricultural sector. This was, in part, thanks to the fact that young learners and graduate shave for long underestimated the potential and contribution of agricultural and allied education to economic growth and general well being of the community. To this end, it was noted, the Higher Institutes of Professional Education (ISEP) in Senegal is the epitome of efficiency and efficacy in entrepreneurial initiatives and job creation. Among other recommendations, the Conference observed that industry players should strive to achieve food self-sufficiency by producing what we consume and limiting imports through the development of the agro-industrial sector.
Furthermore, limiting the export of agricultural raw materials would enhance the much-needed stability in the supply chain of raw materials for the food products and boost the processing sector. The congregation challenged member-institutions and policy makers to lay more emphasis in entrepreneurship skills development, and limit obstacles by making financing available for young entrepreneurs to thrive. The young learners and graduates were also challenged to put their classroom ideas into practice through incubation. The convener, the Association of Technical Universities and Polytechnics in Africa, just like governments, was urged to support the large-scale manufacture, installation and commissioning of the home grown machinery and tools for the harvesting of cassava and potato farm produce. With the support of the private sector, the production and marketing of these agro-industrial tools would become a reality. Also, as a matter of priority, the innovators of these ground breaking projects were urged to move with speed to protect this intellectual property.
As the Conference concluded, it was noted that the paper presenters brought forth good quality work, as exemplified by the comprehensiveness of the results presented. As a result, ATUPA intimated its interest in people living with disabilities in technical and vocational education and training. It recommends their inclusion in the training policies. Going forward, it was discussed and agreed that stakeholders and policy makers should:
- Promote new knowledge about agriculture in general and agro-industry in particular.
- Orient students to trainings and jobs related to agribusiness.
- Raise awareness among women and girls on the importance of farming
- Get rid of stereotypes and taboos existent in our societies about farming.
- Encourage research on agroindustry as well as techno economics to optimize the strategic choices of companies, governments or organizations, by identifying the best solutions that meet technical and budgetary constraints
- Explore the fields of green energies such as biomass in relation to agro industrial development