First, let me point out that PST is different for every sector. Second, I have no idea if there are standard schedule outlines for every sector, regardless of host country. Meaning, PST for agriculture in Ghana may be different to that in say…Uruguay. So, any reference to scheduling here and training layout is likely to be specific to Ghana, the agriculture sector and subject to change.
During language training at our homestay village, we generally had two hours of technical training at the beginning or end of the day. Technical training for my group, meant technical agricultural training. After our site visits we had two weeks straight of nothing but technical training and for this, we were based in Tamale, Northern Region. The point of technical training is to make sure all trainees have a basic level of agricultural knowledge (as stated in an earlier post, not all have agriculture backgrounds), see what agriculture in Ghana is like, learn main PC projects and objectives and get an idea of what we could start at our sites.
Our trainers were composed of Nico, our APCD, Emmanuel, farmer extraordinaire and four awesome PCV’s from the last agriculture group: Jimmy, Kyla, Kiley, and Whitney. Along the way we had specialists come in to share their trade with us too.
EASTERN REGION (ER) TECHNICAL TRAINING
Climate in the ER is tropical: coconut and banana trees grow everywhere, as does cassava and cocoyam. We covered topics such as land preparation, organic pesticides and fertilizers, rabbit rearing and mushroom growing. There was also a lot of development theory which meant a lot of sitting down in plastic chairs under a zinc roof that made sounds as if it were raining but was in fact the metal expanding beneath the heat. The practical days we always welcomed as it was a 180° flip from all the sitting in language training.
OFF-SITE TECHNICAL TRAINING (OSTT)
I was excited for this training as it was taking place in the region I would be living in and I would get a chance to practice Mampruli with Dagomba folk (they are similar). We arrived in Tamale a few days before Thanksgiving and would be there until mid December. In this period we covered topics such as shea-butter, cashews, more small-animal husbandry, value-added products like soap making, honey, jam and juices, batik and agriculture business topics like Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLAs) and insurance.
We had the privilege of going to Kiley’s site to observe and participate in every step of shea butter processing. Great side story here too. Turns out Kiley’s counterpart is family friends with one of my former colleagues at Tranquil Space back in Washington DC. Her family used to live in Ghana. Love how small the world can be! I got to meet this counterpart/friend when we visited Kiley’s community. Shea butter is a lengthy and sweat inducing process that in the end, yields too little profit for the people who make it. Especially when I know how private companies can inflate prices. I bought half a kilo of pure shea butter, no additives, for less than $3. How much do you think The Body Shop would have charged for such a luxury? Ok, I could not resist checking. For 6.75oz, it is on sale for $12, from $21.
We went to Jimmy’s site and vaccinate as many chickens and guinea fowl as possible against Newcastle disease virus. It is a big problem, made worse by the harmattan winds as it can be transmitted through air and affects many birds, domestic and wild. It can also be transmitted through droppings and other secretions. Symptoms include gasping, coughing, twisted wings and necks, even paralysis. The vaccine is a liquid we applied by lightly wiping a doused feather tip over one of their eyes.
Fun fact: I did the entire of OSTT with a weave. My first one ever and also the first time going without washing my hair for two weeks. Oddly, I took
SMALL COMMUNIT Y OUTREACH PROJECT
We organized ourselves into small groups to lead a small agriculture project upon returning to our homestay village after OSTT and before our swearing in ceremony. I worked with JM and Chris and at each of our homestays we taught the children how to do sack gardens. We took the big rice sacks, filled them with nice dark soil and a column of rocks at the center and planted around the sides and top cabbage, carrots and tomatoes. I do hope that at least one of them was a success so that others can replicate it next dry season! Before leaving, I checked out the one at Chris’ home and the seedlings were green and perky. The ones at my home – not so much.